The Scribbler

7 November 2011

Dreaming in the firelight

We get most of our food, meat and vegetables from a small organic farm in Northumberland. Every week, we get a box of goodies delivered to our door in the early hours of the morning. We’ve been doing it for a few years now and it’s completely changed the way we eat. No more processed, packaged ready meals, lots more vegetables and some non-meat meals and learning to love the cheap cuts and leftovers.

This weekend, there was a working party on the farm. A chance for box-scheme customers and friends to come and visit, see what it’s all about, help plant some trees and fix some fencing, with the promise of a tasty meal at the end.

I’d originally planned to do an aquathlon on Sunday. But I wasn’t sure how well my bite wound would heal and whether swimming would be wise. And having taken some time off training anyway, I decided to ditch it and just enjoy my day on the farm instead.

And it was a wonderful day. We got up there early to help clear up and set things up for the visitors, sweeping out the packing shed and setting up trestle tables and hay bales for seats. When the helpers arrived, I joined a crew planting trees, dog rose and blackthorn which will act as a windbreak for the vegetable garden.

Sunset over the fields

Sunset on Bonfire night

The weather was kind. Bright, clear and surprisingly mild, but with just enough coolness to make you glad you were keeping active. We dug, and planted, ferried muck from the heap and settled the trees in. As the afternoon wore on, we began to tire. But tempers never frayed. A bite of an apple and a swig of water and on we worked with the dogs, ducks, geese and chickens inspecting our progress.

As the light began to fade, we stepped back to see the fencing done and over 300 trees in place. A good day’s work.

A quick splash under the standpipe and into the shed for pumpkin soup, topped with stir fried sprouts, chickpea fritters and plenty of proper bread. There were many second helpings. And still room for almond and rhubarb tart for afters.

Stepping out into the pitch dark, looking up at the Big Dipper shining out in the stars; we gathered around the bonfire, watching the flames flicker orange, blue, yellow, purple and green.

My decision to do a little bit less meant I enjoyed what I did do a lot more. Rather than worrying about how I would perform the next day, I was able to enjoy the present. Just relaxing and enjoying being active and outdoors, feeling like I accomplished something. It’s a quieter feeling of satisfaction than a good run, but the wholesome ache of muscles and a hot shower and bed were just as welcome.

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