Lately I’ve felt that familiar anxious feeling, the one that comes each year with the onset of spring. To hurry up and get on top of things before summer hits and you’re under siege again. The cicadas are back, baby ants are hatching and spiders are busy making their webs with increased vigour. The natural world is stirring from its winter hibernation. My home, like the forests and river valley that surround me, has its own tiny ecosystem with its own seasonal ebbs and flows.
I’ve come to realise that the arrival of these little creatures is a reminder to surrender to the things I can’t control. To accept that by choosing to live within nature I must adapt to my surroundings and not the other way around. I am the introduced species here after all. I’m resisting the urge to fight this invasion because like most things in life, its about balance, finding that elusive sweet spot.
I laugh when I think of our first winter here. We kicked back and relished that we wouldn’t have to mow again until spring. New projects could wait until the weather warmed up. We quickly learned to be more productive. Blessed with above average rainfall and plenty of sunshine, anything and everything grows here, often overnight! Summer is all about keeping the jungle from the door, which leaves no time for anything else. Inside the house, its spiders, ants and other creepy crawly creatures. They have no boundaries, our home is their home.
I was determined to keep these little folk at bay, naturally of course, but was soon overwhelmed by the impossible task I’d set myself. On reflection, trying to control my surroundings was a means for me to feel in control of the rollercoaster we’d jumped on when we moved here. The perfectionist in me wanted to take command of my situation, to get on top of things. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work to be done on a farm, joy gradually seeps away leaving only hard slog. Letting go of the unattainable illusion of having everything under control has been such an immense relief. My daily chores, mundane as they are at times, are much more enjoyable. This year I’m determined not to let the weight of the whole suffocate me. I’m keeping things simple, slowing down, taking one small step at a time. Multitasking really is the thief of joy.
This will be our fifth summer on the farm and we know much more what to expect. Now we try to synchronise our activities with the seasons to be better prepared for the opportunies and challenges that arise with each of them. We’re gaining a deeper understanding of the country we reside on and our place in its complex and delicate ecosystem.
This post could have had a number of other titles like “How I stopped being a clean freak’ or ‘Less slog, more joy” but I chose to indulge my love of symbolism because the spider and it’s web represent so much of what I’ve learned on this tree change journey. “Our hapless entanglements in misunderstood circumstances are the stuff of the spider”, not unlike me in the early days here, trying desperately to understand my place in my new world. Despite being woven of strong silk, webs can disappear as quickly as they appear, but work always begins anew. To me, the spider forever spinning symbolises patience, perseverance and the impermanence of things. That life is a never-ending eb and flow. That my home has cobwebs but my heart is full.