Breathing Underwater


June 17, 2013 by Kriscinda Lee Everitt

There is no lawn here anymore. It has officially gone to seed.

There is no lawn here anymore. It has officially gone to seed.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed by this place, which was not the plan when we bought it. The plan was the opposite—to have our own place where we could maybe implement a more peaceful pace of life, and also to get away from people a bit.

After run-run-running for six years straight with school, and living in an apartment building that allowed for no peace if you wanted to be outdoors (not fun for an introvert who desperately needs some fresh air), buying this place seemed like entirely the right idea. And it was; still is. We have no regrets.

Turns out, lots of pretty things happen when you let your lawn go.

Turns out, lots of pretty things happen when you let your lawn go.

But the run-run-running hasn’t stopped, and getting away from people? Turns out that rural suburban folks are nosier than city folks. I suppose when people all crowded in on each other, they do what they can to put some distance between themselves and everyone else, but when they’re not, they seem to go out of their way to make your business their business.

One of the thousand things we need to do: Get the big gas tank filled so we don't have to keep running tot he gas station to fill up the mower.

One of the thousand things we need to do: Get the big gas tank filled so we don’t have to keep running to the gas station to fill up the mower.

This spring, it just seems like nothing can get done in a timely manner—nothing can get done fast enough. And there’s no way to shake the feeling that while you’re doing one thing that really needs to be done, you really should be doing one of the five other things that really need to get done. Things pile up, and it’s just the two of us. So, I’ve been feeling as if perhaps I’m not up to the task (or, tasks).

Compounding that is the harassment we’d been getting from a neighbor about the state of our lawn. I won’t go into it, but it was pretty uncalled for and pretty ridiculous. And rather disheartening in terms of humanity in general, as they were completely aware that our lawnmower was on the fritz. Now they’ve made it so that I don’t want to properly mow the area along their property line, just out of spite. Not that it matters, because I can’t seem to find the time to mow it at all, what with various garden-related things happening almost every day (always something…we’re building tomato supports for our 36 plants right now).

Our first green bean!

Our first green bean!

It’s funny because, while I see them mowing their simple, easy, too-short lawn almost every day, I keep thinking of how much time they’re putting into a patch of vegetation they can’t even eat. Meanwhile, they truly seem to believe that we should view our lawn the same way and, apparently, put it before the vegetable garden that will feed us. If you think about it, it’s pretty stupid.

So, Big A and I were sitting on the porch yesterday, after fighting with the tomato supports for a few hours, having a beer and a chat. He put it into perspective for me. The fact is that this spring, we’re both trying to get the house and yard in order (which is difficult when you’re completely unfamiliar with it and technical difficulties keep popping up) and start a massive garden with which to support ourselves. We’re only two people. In fact, I’d been under the comforting impression that once we just got the garden going, we’d have a breather and get caught up with everything else. But there is no breather, because nothing stops long enough for that. After this there will be all the preserving, which I’ve never done before and so will be twice as difficult and time-consuming as it would be for someone with experience.

Our first squash blossom!

Our first squash blossom!

And that’s the key to my actual comfort: experience. Because we only have to do this once. The chaos of this season will only happen once. Because next year, we will know what the hell we’re doing. I’ll know what the plants in the beds around the house are and how the weeds like to come up through them. I’ll know how fast the grass grows once it starts in the spring (and we’ll have the mower to keep it in check). I’ll know that plot of land that is the garden intimately, and I’ll also have better resources in terms of starting the plants and getting them into the ground.

I have yet to weed around the house (it’s a mess) and we’re barely keeping up with just parts of the lawn, but, damn it, that garden is impressive so far, considering we’re totally green and we built it from scratch. Every time I go out there, I just can’t believe something I grew from seed, either in the house or directly into the ground, is actually growing, and holy crap, there are signs that real, live vegetables are starting to appear. We did that? No way!

This is the property line between us and the neighbor. Yes, we did that on purpose.

This is the property line between us and the neighbor. Yes, we did that on purpose.

In terms of the nosy neighbors, we’ve decided they’re not worth the concern either. True, it makes me feel better to leave a wide strip of grass between our properties, because I know it drives him crazy. But we’ve actually constructed a plan of action that’s good on a couple of levels. We ordered ten strings of Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags, which just arrived two days ago. The plan (once we get these tomato supports finished and we get a dry day) is to cut the grass along the property line all nice and neat, erect the two-foot T-posts we aren’t using from the garden along it all the way to the street, and string the prayer flags. This serves two purposes:

FlagsJuneSunbury11) It will drive the neighbors crazy, because: A) they aren’t the usual, traditional lawn ornament and therefore don’t belong in the yard, B) we will not be cutting around the posts, nor along the lines, so the grass with grow up in that area, and C) these are symbols of a non-Christian heathen religion.

2) It will, on our side of things, represent the re-balancing of our property and our lives. Although we are not practicing Buddhists, speaking for myself, Buddhism is the religion I most relate to. Also, I like the look of the flags, I like the idea of them, and seeing them will remind me that this is our property, the neighbors don’t matter, and dangit, we bought this place to find peace.

FlagsJuneSunbury2From now on, I need to be comfortable in this state of things, which is a little like being underwater and forcing yourself to breathe deeply, as if you could become one of the fishes by doing so. I need to figure out how to become one of the fishes, because the waterline won’t be dropping any time soon. In fact, I foresee not being caught up, well, ever, and the only way this will end is when winter comes. And then I will probably go nuts for something to do after going full speed for the previous ten months.

Breathe deeply…become one of the fishes…

14 thoughts on “Breathing Underwater

  1. I know I would not have nearly the energy required for a lifestyle block. Growing your own food can be hard enough and come harvesting time it’s pretty relentless but it’s great, very comforting, going through winter with little to do and a whole lot of food stored. Having shit neighbours is horrible, makes one just want to stay inside! It’s ok to feel overwhelmed, it’s alot of work, anyone would. And yep, country folk are nosy, Roger and I tend to keep to ourselves now…don’t need to answer to anyone or provide entertainment :) You don’t have sheep to eat your lawn?

  2. Hear ya feel ya although not the nasty neighbour. Fortunately ours are rather good but our gardens are still a bit of a disgrace and across the road they have a very well manicured lawn. When I begged the lawn clippings (which they gave with no issue) and I offered to help mow she declined as she needed something to do that day. As a stay at home mum to 3 under 5 I couldn’t and still can’t get my head around that.
    And if you think watching the seeds you planted grow into something, just wait for your first harvestable item. And then just wait until you bite into it! :) Well worth every second of the effort you put into getting it to harvest time. :)

  3. Linne says:

    If you have a freezer, you can freeze quite a lot of your produce and then do the canning or jamming or whatever you plan to do in the way of preserving, later, at more of your own convenience. You may need a BIG freezer, though . . . Mum liked to do that (years after the kids were all gone ;-) She’d freeze berries and fruit, then make jam in smaller batches in the winter, when the heat was welcome. Too bad we never had a freezer when she had all nine of us at home . . . I don’t know what your finances are like, but have you considered hiring a teen to help out sometimes? Of course, it depends on what’s available in the way of teens, too . . .

    It will get easier, though . . . and if you find yourself languishing once the summer/autumn rush is pretty much over, there’s always the new sewing machine . . . ;-) ~ Linne

  4. Amanda says:

    Hi! I was linked to your blog through my friend Carrie (your wedding photographer) because my husband and I want to start a homestead in 5 years, but I’m learning some homesteading skills in the meantime. I’ve read through a few of your posts, and it’s very interesting! I’m going to read all your posts from the beginning because I’m very interested in your process of setting up the homestead. Also, this post reminded me that I bought Tibetan prayer flags two years ago and have yet to hang them. I will make it a point to do it this weekend!

    • Kriscinda says:

      Hello, nice to meet you! I don’t know if our process here is too enlightening, really. It’s less a recognizable process than it is just us flying by the seat of our pants and kinda doing whatever it is we do. I hope some of it is helpful. =) And hang those flags!

  5. Moonwaves says:

    I do want to move to the country (or at least a very small town or village) one day and what you’re talking about with the neighbours is one of the things I’m most nervous about. I really think it’s a good idea to leave a strip like that between the properties though – very environmentally friendly and, what do they call it, oh yes, helpful to biodiversity. :)

    As for the garden, yep, nothing will beat that thrill of eating stuff you have grown yourself. When it comes to processing, I find slow and steady is the way to go – one batch of tomatoes every day rather than trying to get ten done in one day for example. Do you have a dehydrator? That’s also a great way to preserve stuff that isn’t too labour intensive. My favourites so far are tomatoes, apples, strawberries although the peaches were pretty good too. This year I plan to too way more tomatoes (quite a lot of my summer budget goes on buying tomatoes – one day I’ll grow my own and save myself a fortune!).

    • Kriscinda says:

      Hello, Moon! Yeah, our neighbor situation is about to get much, much worse, which I’ll post about soon. I’ll say, though, that how this turns out with them will really determine whether or not we stay here, which is horrifying to me. We’ve put in so much work already…

      Speaking of which…I was thinking about a dehydrator, but maybe next year. We’ll see how we get by with the canning and freezing over the winter first, gauge it from there and adjust accordingly. Too many different things at once (even if they’re all rather simple) tends to just fluster me, so…easy-peasy this time around. =)

  6. Moonwaves says:

    P.S. scything takes a bit of getting used to but is a great therapeutic exercise if get the knack of it. It’s more physically exhausting than using a mower, obviously, but if you get good at it wouldn’t take that much more time. Would it drive your neighbours absolutely wild to see you out scything rather than mowing your lawn?

    • Kriscinda says:

      They would lose their minds if they saw us with scythes out there. Funny, i was just gifted a fantastic old scythes a few days ago…if it wasn’t old and fairly fragile, I’d be out there with it…hahaha…

  7. […] our neighbors without really having to get into it here, but alas, no. I mention it a little bit here, but I don’t go into exactly how stupid it’s actually been, and, of course, as things […]

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