Sunday, 1 June 2008

Out of the city

We have been out of the city for most of this weekend. 8 years ago we went halves with the Husband's sister in a cottage which sits just under the brow of a hill in the middle of a field of sheep which you reach by driving down a dirt track through a wood. For miles around there is nothing but fields, woods and parkland. Despite being on the edge of a public footpath we rarely see anyone pass by when we are there. It is a truly beautiful place in a quiet, unshowy and jolly British kind of way.

Getting this place coincided with the beginning of our treatment for our complete failure to get pregnant despite a couple of years of no contraception followed by fruitless charting and inconclusive trips to the GP. Many weekends were spent in those first few years walking through the woods crying inconsolably at the frustration of not being able to do what everyone else seemed to be able to do effortlessly, frustration that the doctors could not come up with any particular reason for why we could not and finally frustration at the slowness of the NHS. I think I must have been hard to walk with in those years and I expect that the Husband (I think I need a better name for him) was mighty glad that we were in the middle of nowhere rather than in the very public parks of the city.

As well as using the countryside as a place to walk, talk and cry out my grief, frustration and hopes I also dug vegetable beds, built paths and a wall, planted and weeded and spent hours outside in any weather. So weekends, when we were by ourselves, were a heady mixture of emotion and manual labour. During the work there was no time to dwell and really no inclination at all as the physical actions seemed to cancel out any mental turmoil - well at least whilst I was doing it. We would end the day so tired that we were often asleep by 9 o'clock.

Without the work on the garden I would have found the emotional times when walking too hard to bear. I have never been one for opening up much as I have an abundance, despite my mixed cultural heritage, of that old cliche British reserve. The idea of any kind of therapy was, and in many ways still is, abhorrent although I can when I look at it rationally see why it is so popular and useful for so many. So I needed to follow the talking with something completely mindless - although mindless is the wrong word - it is more a feeling of total involvement in something physical, rhythmic and with a purpose. Something which binds you to the earth and which cancels out or at the least reduces to a bearable level not only the immediate frustrations of day to day life but also the things that you think you will never overcome.

Over the last few years we have spent less time at the cottage for various reasons partly connected with family and partly due to inertia. This weekend however we were back there and I walked through the wood with the Girl. There were no tears. Instead there was log balancing, there was fox spotting, there was laughter. She found the place a delight. I found her a delight. I also thought back to the tears and the frustrations and how the cottage and its surroundings helped us get through. When we got back to the house and the Husband and the Boy I decided to counteract my bout of melancholy by clearing a vegetable patch which we haven't planted this year and decided that this weekend at least I wasn't going to dwell on what is likely to be another natural cycle which will get us nowhere. But that is for another day.

Hello to all of those who have come by from NaComLeavMo. I am planning to come by to all of your blogs now that our holiday week is over.

29 comments:

wish.wait.hope.pray said...

What a beautiful post. I could see the whole thing so clearly and its made me miss the English countryside so much (we left the UK in Oct).

I'm really looking forward to following your blog...

calliope said...

here from nacomleavmo.

You described your cottage and how it heals you so so beautifully. Thank you for sharing that.

Jodi @ SNAPPED said...

What a wonderfully written post. Sounds like an amazingly beautiful place.
I hope it continues to heal you. Thank you for sharing your heart.

Here from NCLM
~Jodi

OvaGirl said...

Hello Betty. This is a great post and I really identified with it. In a way I think what you did with the garden may have been similar to what I did with my writing throughout that time, I was determined, on some level, to have something good eventuate even though the writing seemed hard and at times pointless. Gardens are beautiful, they encourage you to have faith and just keep taking one step after the other. I also very much identify with your point about revisiting places where you experienced such heartbreak, but with a child. This has happened a couple of times to me and when it does, the incredible swirl of emotions is sometimes almost unbearable.

Not here from nclm ;)

Aunt Becky said...

I felt as though I was walking with you. Does that sound weird?

I need a nap.

Portia P said...

The cottage sounds perfect. I'd love somewhere to hide away.

PPX

JamieD said...

What a beautiful post. Sometimes I think we all could use a little English cottage where we could garden and get some things off our chest. I am glad you had a good holiday!

Almamay said...

Good to see you blogging. Lovely post. I couldn't agree more about gardening. It is good for the soul and muscles. I've been doing a lot of it myself.

Busted said...

Here via NCLM - I'm so glad that you were able to replace some of those unhappy memories at your cottage with these new happy ones. It sounds like a beautiful place.

surpriseofunfolding said...

Here from NCLM. This is such a lovely post - it makes me wish I was a green thumb. I keep working on it but fogretting critical parts like watering and such. The way you describe working in the garden is re-igniting those ambitions.

I'm glad the cottage was there to provide a kind of refuge.

korechronicles said...

Although I was born a long way from the UK, my DNA is 100% from there. This post tugged at my heart, for the lovely picture you paint of the English countryside of my ancestors and the way it helped you through such difficult times. How lovely that your Girl found delight in it too, and I hope that it continues to bless your family for years to come.

Here from NCLM.

DC said...

The cottage sounds wonderful. :)

Nit said...

Hola from NCLM :)

Your vacation sounds wonderful...nice & secluded. I'm glad that it has always been a place of comfort for you!

Julia said...

The cottage sounds like a true refuge. I am glad you have it.

Echloe said...

Nice to hear that your cottage has changed into a place of happiness for you after having been your pseudo-therapist for so long. I love a happy ending.

**NaComLeaveMo**

Rachel said...

Sounds like a wonderful time with the Girl.

Vanessa said...

Sounds like a nice place, made all the sweeter now by the pain of the past. NCLM

Kim said...

I loved this post! Thanks for sharing your memories. NCLM

Baby Step said...

I tagged you! Come by to see what you need to do.

Sharon said...

I am so glad that I stumbled upon your post today via NCLM!. The cottage sounds wonderful and a lot like where I was brought up in Maine...I have been to the UK but it all seemed the same...the woods...your girl.....Now I am in the Northwest...Seattle and it is a lot like your place here...at least in the woods...thanks for bring all that back!

I hope your blog helps you!
Wishing you all the best!
Sharon

Brigindo said...

What a beautiful post and it sounds like a lovely cottage. I hope the rest of your vacation is as sweet.

Here from NCLM.

C said...

What a beautiful story about a special place. Thank you for sharing.

Via NaComLeavMo

Panamahat said...

Dropping by from NCLM. I am sorry to hear of your fertility struggles and your recent loss. I am glad you have a healing place to retreat to. I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

Wordgirl said...

What a beautiful post -- and not simply because I have tons of romantic ideas about the English countryside...

I find gardening has helped me immensely -- there's something in the quiet, the dedicated tasks...it soothes me.

KimboSue said...

sounds like a gorgeous place. look forward to reading more. NCLM

DC said...

Hope you're doing well. Please check in soon.

DC said...

Ah, a fellow lupus sufferer. It's fun stuff, huh? ;) Do you know whether your IF was caused by your lupus? Are you in remission?

Hope we can keep in touch!

Kate said...

Here from NCLM. That was a very nice post - thanks.

alicia said...

this place sounds wonderful. It is great to have a place like this, I think I need to find one.

here from nacomleavmo