A day out in the community

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finding daisies on the allotmentWhat a refreshing day! I must admit to having reclusive tendencies. Although I want some kindred spirits in ‘real life’ and would love to live in a self sufficient community; I also want my own front door. I know my limits and boundaries. And for many years I have lived a somewhat hermit-like existence.

For better or worse, my keyboard has become my window on the world………….

This week four trees came down in our village allotments. We phoned and asked if we could give a home to the wood for our wood burner. We were told a few days later that the wood was going to residents (ie us and other families) so we could go and collect what we needed whenever we wanted. Yipee!

If you don’t run a wood burner, I don’t expect you to feel the least bit of excitement here. Or to share in my joy or revel in my happiness. I don’t even expect you to smile for me, but if I can talk your language for a moment; it’s a little like someone offering to pay your fuel bill for a couple of months………….

Wrapped against the cold north wind we made our way to the other end of the village to collect our gorgeous loot from the allotment. What an amazing place! I have driven and walked past this place hundreds of times over the past ten years, but never actually set foot in there.
Mr Green working hard to keep us warm next winter
There were two women leaning over the gate talking when we arrived. With smiles and cheery hellos we introduced ourselves and trundled along the path with our trusty wheelbarrow to the stream where the trees had fallen.

Little Miss Green hot-footed it across nature’s playground. What can possibly be more exciting to a seven year old than a pile of logs and mounds of sawdust next to a fast flowing stream? With cries of ‘I’m the king of the castle’ she was away in her own imaginary world slaying dragons and chatting with the fairies.

There was a septuagenarian elder, dressed in open necked shirt and cravat taking a few pieces of wood. Let me put you in the picture here. These weren’t small logs, ready to put on the fire. These were tree trunks, cut into foot long pieces that required serious manhandling and splitting.

I learned so much through observing this man. It was the Hare and the Tortoise in front of my eyes. His work carried wisdom and grace. He never faltered and he whistled a happy tune that I can still hear, throughout his intense physical labour. He drove a metal wedge into each piece of wood and hit it with an axe repeatedly, until finally, the wood fell apart like a Terry’s Chocolate orange.

Little Miss Green learns how best to move a heavy object!He worked like this for an hour and then loaded up his wood into a wheelbarrow and took it away. He was a man of few words, but it was interesting when he said he was gathering bits here and there in the belief that sooner than we thought, more and more people would be wanting wood as our oil resources run out.

Later, Little Miss Green approached a couple of women working on their allotments. She spent the next hour doing what sociable seven year old do – learning everything about these people from names, ages and favourite numbers, putting them into boxes and labelling them. I saw her digging, weeding and turning compost heaps. So much for learning nothing when home educated!

I spoke to one of the women and stressed that if she had come here for solitude, she was free to send Little miss Green back to me. Fortunately, she was delighted to have her company and I discovered a woman who shared so many of my views. We could almost finish one another’s sentences as we discussed our views on education, creativity, freedom and the ;eft and right brain (yes, really!). It was a true pleasure to meet her and I sincerely hope we bump into one another again.

When we were loading up the car, our elderly friend came out to talk to us. We hadn’t seen her for a while, so it was good to catch up with her. Looking as sprightly as they come in one’s late eighties we put the world to rights and swapped news.

She held Little miss Green’s hands as she balanced precariously on a piece of wood pretending to surf. When we got home, I was huffily asked why our friend had held her hands. She took it as a ‘be careful’ message. (which she loathes with a passion as we have always given her the opposite ‘you can do it’ message).

I explained that our friend probably hadn’t seen anyone else this week and perhaps she was literally reaching out to be held. In our society, so many of our members are lacking in human physical contact and go days, weeks, months without a hug or someone to hold their hand. Many of us will know about the work of Harry Harlow in the 1950’s who discovered the vital importance of emotional attachment to our physical well being.

It’s a shameful thing that we no longer reach out to one another. Teachers are no longer allowed to comfort children. My friend was once verbally attacked by the mother of a child when she reached out to stop her child running across a busy road, with threats of ‘keep your hands of my child.’ Mr Green standing on the old tree stump

We’ve replaced the importance of a hug or a friendly arm around our shoulders with ‘independence’ and emotional detachment. I look around at the teenage drink and drugs problems, adults with eating disorders and two in three relationships failing and have little doubt over where this arises.

Anyway, this was supposed to be a happy musing as it *was* a great day. It was so good to be out there, with the people from our village sharing, Being…………

When we got home the first thing Little miss Green did was to pop around to our neighbour’s house and offer to go out with her and her dog for a walk.

Interesting that the first question you get asked when you are home educating it ‘But what about socialisation?’

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