Today marks the two-months anniversary since we got on a one-way flight from Stansted to Biarritz to begin our new life in France. But it feels more like two years.
Here’s how I celebrate it. I wake up to see rain falling in millions of tiny droplets outside my window and my mind is empty of thoughts or worries. My husband is letting out the chickens first thing and I promise to feed the goats later. When I go out, I put a waterproof jacket on and wellies, as the rain has not gotten any lighter. I first get maize from the chicken coop and notice the chickens have laid more eggs (we already had about five this morning). I must come back for them, I tell myself as I push the wheelbarrow toward the huge bale of hay that sits under a hangar. I fill the wheelbarrow with hey, using the newly purchase fork, and make my way towards the goats hut. They are still inside (they don’t like the rain, so we often present them with breakfast in bed), although the youngest one, uncharacteristically comes out and smells the food I’m bringing. I almost end up on my ass, slipping in the mud, as I’m leaving them stocked-up and fighting over the maize. I carefully return to the chicken coop. Two chickens are laying more eggs (over the top of existing ones) and I resolve to return later, not to disturb them, although the little black one works herself into a panic and flees the nest. I notice that they have run out of water and proceed to cleaning the water tank and bringing it back with fresh water. The goats are ok for water, it’s raining after all.
I am soaked up when I come back inside but it’s warm and it’s so quiet. All I hear is the fall of the rain and the low hum of the refrigerator. I sit down and drink a cup of coffee, while the cat is pestering me for attention or possibly Dreamies. I give him both and he finally settles into his favourite chair (an antique Safari chair that requires the protection of two blankets against his grubby little claws).
When I was in London, I used to beat myself up constantly about needing to make time for exercising and meditation. There was never any time for either but I desperately needed both. During the six weeks we’ve lived in our new home in France, I’ve exercised twice and meditated once. But I feel fit and happy. There are plenty of opportunities around the farm to work-out (try pushing a wheelbarrow full of cut wood on uneven terrain or cut logs into smaller pieces with a mini-chainsaw, while holding is still with your left foot) and I have been so unstressed that I don’t feel the need to meditate in the traditional sense. It’s enough to spend a few minutes watching the river flow, changing colours or to watch the robins and the blue tits feeding on the fat balls on the terrace.
Overtime people asked us how do we feel about our new French life and we always use the same two words to describe it: stupidly happy. It’s stupid because you realise being happy takes so little. Feeding the chickens and the goats, collecting eggs, pulling out hey, playing with the cat, eating good food, not being in a hurry anywhere, laughing and joking with everyone you meet at any given opportunity, watching the stars or howling at the moon (yes, that happened!). It really takes that little to be stupidly happy.