As with all things living, we have a time limit, a sell-by-date, an end point. This is not a post about the after life and my Christian belief of spending eternity with my Saviour, it is more about the practical aspect of being used up, wrung out, cast aside. Perhaps it’s the end of a month, full moon and all that…
If I walk about 20 minutes westerly, down a steep hill, along the road of this charming rural hideaway that we find ourselves so comfortably isolated from the world, I come to a farmer who sells milk. He supplies a consortium who process the milk into yoghurt, pasteurized milk, cream, etc., but not for cheese.
If I walk about ten minutes, along the more level part of the same road, but in the opposite direction, I come to a farmer who sells delicious cheese.
In between these two farmers are a number of other farmer’s homes and sheds, as well as one of the local beekeepers who sells the finest alpine honey.
Climbing the steep slope behind our house, I find the lovely couple who run a few hens and who will sell their excess eggs, when the hens are not molting.
All these rural mountain dwellers have small vegetable patches or fruit trees that produce enough for themselves and when they have excess, they place that either at their door, or roadway for others to help themselves to.
This is an ideal solution to share one’s excess, without actually engaging with each other.
The Swiss mountain folk are shy but kind, inhospitable but generous, basically a contradiction in every way! They all greet one from behind the wheel of any vehicle, but only with a raised hand and a partial smile. I have been charmed to see how my more effusive greeting is received: in response they seem to come alive as they share a wide open smile that reaches their eyes, and a wave that is more meaningful than merely an acknowledgement of being seen. We’ve even had one of the old farmers stop his car to “chat” – a one-sided conversation in his strong Swiss-German dialect and us smilling and nodding along!
The Swiss architecture speaks directly to this contradiction too: the very large eves at the front of the house serve multiple purposes but mostly it affords shelter without having to extend hospitality. One can meet & greet another at the front door, out of the rain or snow and never needing to open that door and invite them inside the home. These eves are ideal places for washing lines to be located as they are mostly adequate for keeping the rain and snow off the laundry in the event that it has not been brought inside. They also serve as extra storage space for anything from firewood to bicycles and of course, the most important reason is to keep the snow from piling up at the front door!
And so it is with this simple lifestyle that I can relate, not only because it is not so dissimilar to my rural farming upbringing (except for the vastly different take on hospitality) but because of the stage of life I am now living: middle aged, menopausal, musing…
Am I as used up as the dairy farmers milk cows that no longer produce milk because they can no longer carry a calf; or the hens that are no longer producing eggs; or perhaps as emotionally used up as the Swiss mountain people seem to be with their lack of friendly hospitality?
NO! Now is the time to grow more, give more, listen more, share more, adventure more, BE MORE!
A new month awaits with new challenges and adventures a-plenty!