In the countryside, change is always a memento mori


Alberto Manguel on the the hectic life of living in the country @ Geist. When my partner and I settled in the French countryside, over a decade ago, my urban mother’s first question was: “But what in the world are you going to be doing with yourself all day?” Little could she have known (or I for that matter) that these past years have been the most hectic years of my life.Partly, the hecticness comes from the fact that I’m not at home all year round: work forces me to travel, as if I were living under the curse of Cain whom God despised for being a settled crop farmer, not a nomadic herdsman like his brother Abel, and whom he punished by forcing him to wander.

Consequently, when I’m at home, work accumulates. Other than my reading and writing, there’s looking after the house and the garden (I cook, my partner is the gardener), and making sure that the ancient stones remain in place. We have always had the sense that rather than own this place, we have been made its custodians, and we are supposed to see to its well-being: mend the roof, nurse the trees, play with the dog, protect the birds, feed the stray cats, rescue hedgehogs that fall into the pool and see that the big snake that lives deep inside the crypt can come and go undisturbed.

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