Borrowers, Gratitude, and Sharing the Load
By Mary Niehaus Ralles | Jan 26, 2018
Hello Grit Readers! After months of silence, I am back with an update on my travels and relocation to reach that rural landscape I’ve been searching for.
I am officially a Hoosier, with a new permanent residence in the great state of Indiana! When last I wrote, I was in the middle of summer harvest for my urban garden. A harvest I knew I wouldn’t be around for the final harvest of my quaint little garden, lined with granite pavers.
My last fence post:
Fast forward to today and we’re in the middle of winter in our new place and I have covered a lot of ground since then. Let me catch you all up…
My house sold just in the nick of time and we moved the end of July. That’s when it got really interesting as I promised immediate occupancy and found myself temporarily homeless. I packed up my two teenage boys, our two dogs, and moved in with a friend, who provided a place for us to stay for two months while we searched for a house. It was the most hectic of times, enrolling the kids in school without a permanent address, putting everything we owned into storage…and me owning a new level of humility in accepting the kindness of a friend…admitting that I needed help.
We borrowed absolutely everything, from gardens to vegetables to canning supplies. The summer and early fall were not wasted and while my new homestead remained TBD, someone else was kind enough to share their own. I spent those weeks working and coming “home” to a gorgeous mimosa tree full of hummingbirds each day. I would sit outside listening and watching other wonders of nature…like deer running across the field…and the hummingbirds! I saw dozens and dozens of these amazing tiny birds, flitting around the tree. In the city, I thought it was rare to see two at once hovering around my feeders.
I helped bring in the garden, picked blackberries, and pickled peppers. We also enjoyed campfires and roasted marshmallows and made s’mores. We couldn’t have asked for a better host or friend. My fire building skills leave a little to be desired, so an assist in that area was helpful too.
As far as actual chores went, it was the first time either of my boys had been on a riding mower. I’m happy to report they learned to ride it and pulled their weight around the house in taking care of the weekly mowing without complaint (trash day…another story). I took a turn a time or two as well…but I had a little experience already…and knew this was one task I’d always seen as more fun than work.
There were less stellar moments like when my yellow lab took the occasional bite out of a kitchen chair…mortified, I looked online for days to find a replacement set (I’m still looking). Then there was the case of the missing AA batteries, which no one fessed up to. And other things you just can’t control when you have two teenage boys in a house.
But the very best moments were the simplest. My theory of finding a better life in the country proved out…even with a temporary delay. We shared family dinners, with fresh vegetables just like I had as a kid. The view of the stars was amazing at night and the moon was a sight to behold. Nothing compared to the early morning sunrise or 5 a.m. walks, where I saw a glow worm for the very first time. Nature speaks to you if you listen. It’s like a symphony of sound and leaves you with nothing but peace and a sense of well-being. It touched me profoundly and I look forward to spring, when I can embrace it once more.
I came to appreciate a way of life I’d just about forgotten ever existed. A life where I was freed from all my belongings and realized just how little is required to live well and be happy. It’s far less than you might think and has everything to do with surrounding yourself with like minded individuals, who appreciate what most people fail to even notice.
I’ve always taken pride in living in a way that didn’t require the help from anyone else. Sure, it always made me feel good helping other people, but the thought of accepting help from someone else made me feel uncomfortable. But after last year, I learned to grow into that discomfort, accept that pride is not a virtue, and I let someone help me without compromising who I thought I was. If anything, I became more aware of who I want to be in the future. And words fail me in describing that future state…just “better”…I want to be and do better in every area of my life.
This journey has been a difficult one, fraught with great happiness and deep sorrow along the way, both for my own family and that of my best friend who opened up his house in a way that made it possible for me and my boys to call it home. People talk about being thankful for things every day as a way of not taking life for granted. During that short window of time, I learned to live in the moment and appreciate someone else’s generosity. I can’t help but be thankful for the bridge that helped move us to our new path. I can’t help but strive toward maintaining my own home in a way that honors this life I’ve been given and privilege in raising my sons in a way that teaches them what matters most. And at the top of the list, it’s people and friends. Give back always, but don’t let pride stand in the way of letting someone else take a turn. And if we do it right…this journey we are all on together, it will stop feeling like any one person giving and will be what it is supposed to be…sharing the load and making life better for everyone.
I look forward to writing again very soon to tell you the rest of the story and reveal my new homestead.
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