I was staring blankly at my window pane this morning listening to the sound of birds. The trees offer a different feel with the wind blowing off my face. Summer's almost over and to observe the recurrent pace so attentively is just awe-inspiring. Such I must say is one of the pleasures of living in rustic Britain. This summer has been hot, but the hint of autumn, and the rebirth of the land it promises, has got to be significant.
A year or two ago, a campaign to warn pensioners against moving from the city to the country was launched. A certain prolific author and a perpetual inhabitant at the countryside served as its ambassador. "Tough, a little bit dangerous and not for wimps". This is how the author described living in the rural area. The campaign attempts to dismiss myths about the countryside that few people who live there would recognise. The paradise that is the green villages', roses slopping out of a log cabin garden, dancing around the pole and a seasoned landowner dragging beers ended being a common fact very long ago. Most likely it was once all country paradise.
I've read and heard so much about the British landscape but probably one of the more striking literatures written was that of Jacquetta Hawkes. She wrote: "Recalling in tranquillity the slow possession of Britain by its people, I cannot resist the conclusion that the relationship reached its greatest intimacy, its most sensitive pitch, about two hundred years ago." So much has changed since the Great Industrial Revolution. Technology has eaten so much of what used to be the Garden of Eden. At present, large strips of the rural area are covered in factories, thoroughfares, retail squares and manufacturing sites. Still I would never miss having the chance to live here for the world.
A few years back, I acquired a small farmhouse in Cotswolds. And no, it wasn't an easy adjustment on my behalf. I still live in the city and still tend a house over there so switching from the city to the country is something I had to learn.
Before I made the big decision to give the countryside a try, I was living in a flat in London. I would miss a ton of things about living life in the metro whenever I am in Cotswolds. For one, I love the idea that people are so engrossed with what they do and that time does not seem to suffice. It feels as if they always need more than 24 hours every day. However, there are things I couldn't now live without such as carrying firewood into the house; the sound of wind in the forests; the continuous yet slow transformation in the backdrop; the feeling of not having to hurry; the peace; the insatiable odour of summer; the moonlight revealing the brook underneath the house; the community itself.
In the city, you get to choose your community. You can build a community through the workplace, your preferred sports team, a club for voracious readers, your kids' school or simply your friends. It's unlikely, however, to include your neighbours. You may rub shoulders with residents of three or four diverse communities in the duration of a weekend, and still remain clueless of the names of every single one of them. In the countryside however, your neighbours are your only community.
I would say I am lucky as I got to live in a place with a solid sense of community. Celebrations are based on key dates from the calendar. My favourite thing really though is the beer that's affordable and well-kept. There are activities every night of the week like singing and dance workshops, fitness classes and other things that help us further familiarise ourselves with our neighbourhood. Urban people often have a tendency to be snotty at all this but the point is that no one need feel excluded. "People get the type of community they deserve", said Adlai Stevenson once or not. And to be able to have the opportunity to live in both alternately allows me to provide a better judgement of the two. For now, I would gladly live in both the city and the countryside and submit to the adjustments. And that campaign that advises against elders becoming secluded in the rural area: It has to be your conscious choice to be here.