Thursday, September 17, 2015

Longing for home

A friend of mine just posted this blog to FB and said that he thought he was just about going to curl up into a little green puddle of jealousy.

Even for me, "jealous" hardly covers my feelings:

"But, in all seriousness, my family and I are so blessed to be here. Some people dream of playing professional sports, some doctors, some teachers. For the last dozen years my dream job was to be a caretaker of a monastery. I remember the first guy I met with that job. For years I spun that pea around in my little head trying to figure out how to land that gig. And here I am."

A few years ago I visited a friend at Christmas time who lives in a caretaker's apartment built into the old servants' quarters of a 17th century National Trust stately home in Scotland. I don't remember ever wanting a gig that much. Then it got worse. I was taken on a little tour of the estate grounds, and got to see the large walled "kitchen garden" that was about 1/2 an acre but completely unused. It was just bare raised beds and an empty glass house. I was told that the Trust was looking for someone to hire to start gardening here again.

Then, if you can imagine it, it got even worse when my friend introduced me to the "estate naturalist" - who proceeded to show us where there were barn owls nesting - and I thought I was going to have an envy-aneurysm and just drop dead of acute longing right there on the spot.

When I lived in England I gave some very serious thought to going to a local agricultural college and taking their two-year countryside and wilderness conservation programme. All hands-on, outdoorsy work, building stone walls, laying hedges, learning botany and zoology... I still kind of yearn for it.

Since my visit to Scotland, I've moved to Norcia, which is pretty darn nice, I have to admit. But in truth, it's not my natural habitat. I'm fine with that, and there are of course loads of compensations but Italy will forever be a foreign exile for me. Britain, cold, rainy, overcast, drizzly Britain - with black pudding and fried mushrooms for breakfast and the smell of coal fires wafting through the crisp November air - is where I'm from, down to the level of my DNA. I won't ever stop wishing I could go back, go home, even if I never actually do it.



James C. said...

My boss at the University of Cambridge left last month to take a position at the University of the Highlands and Islands. Her new home is at the base of Ben Nevis, and twice a month she travels around the campuses in Ullapool, Isle of Skye, Oban, etc.

I begged her to take me with her, but she demurred.

In light of the terrifying developments of this summer, more than ever I can imagine myself as a crofter in the Scottish Hebrides or tending puffins for the National Trust on Lundy or moving in with the Transalpine Redemptorists in the Orkneys.

Steve T. said...

I am madly envious of the lifestyle. But of all the people I know who deserve this, Rob is the man. God bless him and his.

Murray said...

Well, we could use you back in Victoria...