Over the past months you may have sighed indulgently – or with irritation – as I’ve described our attempts to get to grips with our peasant lifestyle. I’ve smugly talked about our efforts to get a 52 weeks a year veg. patch going, about going equipped on every walk, prepared to carry loot home: a bagful of walnuts, chestnuts to roast, windfall apples and pears, a log or two for the fire. We enjoy what we do and it matters to us, but frankly, if we don’t get these things right….well, there’s always the market, or someone around who can sell us what we need.
Until now. Now we’re in crisis. We’ve no firewood for the wood-burning stove. Well, not much anyway. A friend’s cousin was supposed to supply us with our wood for the winter, and he did. But it won’t do for this winter, and probably not next either. We need wood that’s had all its natural moisture weathered out of it, leaving it dry and combustible. What we got was freshly-hewn logs. They sit in the grate and spit and sulk. We’ve been busily lugging them to the open first floor of our atelier, and stacking them where the air will get at them and dry them out.
So now, half way through November, we’re asking anyone who’ll listen where we can buy seasoned wood. And the answer is, we can’t, it’s too late. It’s all sold. Like real peasants, we face the prospect of a winter without our beloved wood-burning stove. Unlike those peasants, we do have a few radiators, but they don’t glow cheerily at us after a chilly day playing at being self-sufficient in the great outdoors.
And unlike those peasants, we’ve had another, peculiarly 21st century crisis. Our computer became terminally ill. Its death in the night seemed certain. We were distraught. How to keep in contact with friend in 3 continents? How to pay bills, organise our banking, buy tickets to England for Christmas? Hearing of our distress, friends and family phoned, diagnosed, offered treatments, and somewhere in among all this, a remedy appeared. It might turn out to be merely patching the wound, but it’s working so far. It’s reminded us though that we’re not quite the horny-handed sons-and-daughters-of-toil that we like to see ourselves as. We have some way to go before we achieve The Good Life