I’ve been asked a lot over the past weeks how I am coping with living the quiet country life and working from home, whether the silence is not getting to me yet. It is, admittedly a radical change for me, but then again, my whole life as been about radical changes. I don’t think I would be the person I am today if I did things by the book and predictably. The silence of both the house and the area do take some time to get used to, especially after lively Lisbon, but now, after a month of the Frobbit House, I can’t imagine any other life. It is almost like constantly being on retreat or living in a monastery of sorts.
It is Tuesday, so the friendly farmer delivered my weekly box of fresh goodies. I received some gorgeous herbs, aromatic arugula, and more ginger than I can possibly consume in a week! But he is a welcome face each week, and even the CTT courier knows me well now. Life if anything ut boring around here, especially with so many things to discover. Last week, for example, I stumbled on a very interesting website for cheese – Queijo do Campo, a farm located in Odemira, with an unusual story. Well, I wasted no time in placing my first order from them, as I absolutely adore Gouda, and if they offered varieties with herbs and spices, who am I to turn my back on such delicacies? It reminded me of a similar service I had found in Berlin before the pandemic hit. Delivery was prompt and my cheesy box arrived today in mint condition, perfectly sealed and protected.
The baker brought some peculiar new rolls that were pink (fuchsia?) in colour and I was too curious to let it pass. They were rhubarb rolls and softer than the regular ones. I didn’t really taste the rhubarb but the novelty of eating something of this colour was too entertaining. Would I crave for them? Probably not, but at least I got to try something new!
I may no longer be able to have my daily croissant and cappuccino at my favourite cafe in Lisbon, but I do make my daily cappuccino before work. This entails heating up the milk on the stove and making sure I don’t take my eyes off it, like I did the other day. All the cats watching me (there were at least six pairs of eyes on me, including Cherry, stared at the little enamel pot while the milk bubbled over. Well, the mess was contained but there was some bunt milk stuck to the bottom of the pot. I stared at it for a moment, contemplating my options. I could either attack it with some aggressive effort, running the risk of ruining the pot altogether, or take the gentle path and give it time. I opted for the gentle path, which meant soaking it in water half a day, and then putting it back on the stove with water to simmer, before adding baking soda. Thank goodness for baking soda! Where would the world be without it? Works like a charm every time, and the bunt milk stuck to the bottom of the pot came off easily with a soft sponge.
That got me thinking about life in general. When we embark on change in the hope of bringing something new and flavourful into our lives, we end up in some unexpected situations along the way simple because we took our eyes off the goal. We can either insist on the short but aggressive approach, which can result in more damage to the body and soul, or make a conscious decision to be patient and wait for the right moment to arrive. If you give it time, and give yourself the time to wait, the desired result will be achieved. Patience it not everyone’s strong point, and there is a reason it is referred to as a virtue. Remember that classic saying – good things come to those who wait. The burnt milk was a reminder of that.
I leave you tonight with some of John O’Donohue’s wisdom. This is not the first time I share this poem / prayer, but it is dedicated to all those undergoing change under duress.
At the end of the day – a mirror of questions
What dreams did I create last night?
Where did my eyes line today?
Where was I blind?
Where was I hurt without anyone noticing?
What did I learn today?
What did I read?
What new thoughts visited me?
What differences did I notice in those closest to me?
Who did I neglect?
Where did I neglect myself?
What did I begin today that I might endure?
How were my conversations?
What did I do today for the poor and the excluded?
Did I remember the dead today?
Where could I have exposed myself to the risk of something different?
Where did I allow myself to receive love?
With whom today did I feel most myself?
What reached me today? How deep did it imprint?
Who saw me today?
What visitations had I from the past and from the future?
What did I avoid today?
From the evidence – why was I given this day?
– John O’Donohue, from the book Benedictus