Country Roads

Walking around the hillside area and exploring the fields and paths really cements the fact that I live in the Shire. The wide open spaces, hills and valleys make me wonder why on earth I would ever return to the city! Maike and I took another sunset walk this evening, and this is the loot I came home with:

It is difficult to explain to some that I so far remove from metropolitan life that when I step out of my gate, I don’t have roads with stoplights, sidewalks, cafes every three metres, a supermarket or small grocery shop always within a stone’s throw, or even a bus stop and train station. Nope. All I have are cows, sheep, tons of cats and dogs, birds, and some of the most picturesque farmhouses I have ever encountered. There is so much to discover during these walks that I forget I am not watching an elaborate movie production, but that this is my reality! Me, the girl who spent most of her life in cities with over ten million residents, is now roaming the countryside and falling hopelessly in love with the stone walls and abandoned cottages!

One of the things I treasured about my life in Germany was the accessibility to the great outdoors, open spaces that were inspiration for poets and philosophers alike. The restless silence of the trees, and chatter of the rolling hills, and the drama of the changing leaves during the seasons always took my breath away. If you truly need to silence your mind and soul, the European countryside is definitely the place to be.

Portugal? I recently had a conversation with someone who moved here seven years ago, initially drawn by the surfing crowds of Cascais. He came, he surfed, he found his music, and the rest is history. No regrets. This is not the country to get rich in, but is definitely the country to find inner peace and happiness, he said in-between cigarettes and cocktails, and that is all the wealth you need. It took me a while to digest this, but after moving up here to the Shire, I understand the sentiment completely.

My neighbour was taken to hospital yesterday. The baker arrived at his usual time this morning and was a little disconcerted that his faithful customer was not at the gate to receive his daily loaf of bread, and when I informed the baker that he was sick, the baker wrapped up the bread and left it at the door. The farmer who brings my weekly fruits and vegetables grinned when he handed over my supplies and asked if I was happy with the produce and if I needed anything else, to just holler (well, email or call), but the point being, they are willing to go out of their way for those of us who live out of the way. This is the kind of social networking that I have missed and yearned for. The generosity and kindness that is lacking in the big cities nowadays, where you clutch your bag tight on the train or walk faster when passing a shady looking pub. Here? The only bag I carry is my sling pouch with my camera, and the only shady characters are the cows whose peace and quiet I dared to interrupt.

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