Every summer during my teenage years and most Saturdays I worked on a farm. We were always outside doing something. I loved bringing in the hay and the memories of the sun and the sunburn, the white bread sandwiches eaten outside, and the cups of tea are still vivid. I remember the great hunger you would have for those sandwiches after a day in the bog, nothing to this day compared to the taste of those sandwiches.
There were many lessons to be learned and many were not at all welcome for a young teenage lad. Tying plastic bags around our knees with bailing twine whilst spending hour after monotonous hour thinning mangles in grey cold drizzly west of Ireland summer was high on the list of something I never ever wanted to do again.
Then there was the absolute dedication to stop and take a moment at 12pm and frequently at 6pm too when the local bells tolled. In my mind now the idea of stopping and appreciating the present moment and our surroundings is a true blessing. These days in our frantic lives, there is so little time simply to be and to notice all that is wonderful with the world.
How will we notice when the first swallows arrive on our shores, or the humble bee going about his trade, or the little flowers in the grass or the deep deep blue of the sky? All can go by, and we can be oblivious.
We miss the inter-connectivity of all things and their sheer beauty and energy. Will we notice the touch of the wind on our skin or the first raindrops on our face? Mostly and I speak for myself, we don’t, and who could blame us, there is no external reason to stop and stand still, we have to fight for that freedom to be still, away from our phones and the endless stream of social media and all the noise.
This week for us on the farm we have been trying very hard to get a tonne of work done and taking the time to appreciate the beauty of nature around us has been challenging.
The bees have been breath-taking and we feel truly honoured to have hives managed by beekeeper Gerry on our farm. We leave the kale flowers, we grow wildflowers, and crucially we use no chemicals, all these things mean their population is healthy and growing, and at least on our little farm they are safe.
If you go and stand in the middle of our kale and be still with the bees flying all around you can feel truly connected. But even on a farm and being outside, feeling the pressure of the weather (that it might break at any minute) and the endless list of equally high priority tasks, it is difficult to find the discipline to stop and be still, there is a craving to keep moving and doing.
Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the bells started to ring again at 12pm every day as a reminder to stop, I think I for one would appreciate it.