by Laura Crum
I’ve been sick. Yucky bug which went to my lungs and then lit up my asthma. And suddenly walking down to the barn to feed the horses is overwhelming, not to mention sleeping at night is impossible…etc. This has been going on for over a week now, not counting the two weeks I was “kind of” sick with the cough/cold bug, BEFORE it turned into an asthma attack.
I know, you’re all thinking yeah, yeah, yeah, we all go through it, why are you whining? And the truth is, I’m not really wanting to whine. I’m wanting to talk about the benefits of downtime.
For a week now I’ve been forced to stay home and rest. My husband and son have been feeding the horses for me. I’m not doing much of anything but puttering around looking at things. And reading. And writing. And you know what? I really like it.
I have time to drink a cup of tea and watch a sunrise from start to finish.
I have time to watch a buck wander around behind my house.
I have time…I think that in itself is a huge gift. People spend big money to vacation at some cute little cabin and just relax. I don’t need to pay a cent. I just need an excuse to stop being so busy with “doing.” And this being sick is the perfect excuse. I have time to sit on the porch in the sun.
I finally finished an essay that I started six months ago concerning the insights I’ve had about life…etc. And yes, this was an ambitious piece and I’m beyond thrilled that I finally just sat down and finished it. And I’ve been able to process some of the difficult things that have happened lately and see them a little more clearly. I’ve gotten a lot of truth about what is important to me and what is not. I’m actually quite happy to be in this mode—I wouldn’t mind if it lasted another week.
Yes, I miss riding. But after many, many years of riding non-stop, I can take a break. I can stop and smell the flowers (metaphorically, anyway--there aren't many actual flowers in the garden at this point) and not worry about what I’m NOT getting done. This would have been much harder for me in my 20’s and 30’s. But in my 50’s, I see life a little differently.
I’ll tell you one thing I don’t miss. Being out in the world dealing with people. My best friends come by to see me and we talk, my husband and son are here with me. I really don’t miss interacting with the world of people in general. I watch my horses and I watch the wild animals and you know, it’s a lovely world right here. The last six months have taught me some big lessons. I will never be so trusting with people again. It is only too sadly true that some will pretend to be your friend and turn against you as soon as they perceive it to be in their own best interests to do so.
And so I am taking some time to rest and heal and be a peaceful hermit. There is always much here to delight me, and my horses and other animals are all doing well. Sunny is a bit bored and gallops up and down his corral at feeding time as if to tell me, “Look, I’m ready to do something.” But the other horses seem content.
And then there is the magical world of the greenhouse. The greenhouse is my husband’s project. He always wanted a greenhouse of his own (he makes his living growing plants and so has spent many, many hours in greenhouses), and last year we made it happen. By early December the greenhouse was here.
I didn’t originally have a lot of interest in the greenhouse—I thought of it as Andy’s deal. But over the two months it has been here, I have grown very fond of it. It is beautiful and full of life and my husband and son have so many interesting projects they are doing together there.
My son’s hydroponics project—which is providing us with salad every night.
Growing food is becoming a huge passion for our family. We have been very interested in growing our own food for many years. We raise our own grassfed beef, we have a veggie garden and fruit trees and chickens for eggs. Growing your own food connects you to the “real” world in a way that I can’t really explain; those who do it will understand. It is a little like owning and riding horses. It connects us to something deep in our human selves that is connected to the natural world that we truly live in. It helps us feel a part of what is, rather than separate. Not to mention it is good for us and good for the planet. We relate to life very differently when we grow our own food rather than going to the grocery store and buying it.
So yeah, we are loving growing even more of our own food. Basil, cucumber and strawberry plants in the greenhouse.
My husband’s seedling beds.
Finally, I’m going to build a pool. This may not be of much interest to you dedicated horse people, but I have been just as interested in my garden as I am in my horses for many years. And my current passionate dream is to build a small rocky pool. Planning the pool gives me many happy hours of imaginative thinking, and I have many books on the subject—I haunt the websites of some fine designers of garden pools.
So yes, I am sick, I’m not doing much with my horses currently, I’m still processing some shitty experiences I had in 2013. But overall I’m enjoying the magical world I live in right here, and planning the next cool thing I want to do. So you know, life IS good. Despite my being sick.