So far, every time I’ve left a place I’ve gotten nervous about my next step. It’s felt like leaving a place that was so *good* in full knowledge that the next place might not be as good. And yet, each time my fears have been dismissed.
I am now on a the Isle of Mull which is part of the Inner Hebrides tucked away on a farm in a small little “valley,” if you want to call it that. We are on the west end of the island, and you can see the sea from the garden. If you walk over to it, you can see the Isle of Iona, a tiny little island that is only 1 mile wide, 3 miles long, and with only 125 people living on it. My hosts are Rosie and Nigel, the most lovely couple, and so far my only regret is that I am only staying here for two and a half weeks. I love this place already.
Rosie is a joyful, happy, sociable lady who is flighty and forgetful and utterly charming. I described her as an “exaggerated version of me,” as she is constantly doing goofy/forgetful things and then laughing wildly about it. Remind you of someone you know?
Nigel is her equal, being probably a little less forgetful and flighty, but just as thoughtful, kind and-dare I say it-right brained. They are both clever little Brits who moved to the Isle of Mull and started learning Gaelic and Gaelic singing, own sheep, chickens, and two cats. They also have a garden and two polytunnels in which they grow such veg as tomatoes, cabbage, squash, pumpkins, beets, parsnips, turnips, chard, basil, parsley, cilantro (coriander, as they call it) and such fruit as apples, blackberries (brambles!), raspberries, currants, and blueberries.
They also have a wee little shop that sells their veg, meat, homemade jams and jellies, homemade bread, homemade soup, homemade cakes, and a few other items they buy in just for funzies. I love how this shop is run, which is off the honor system. They leave the list of prices, a cash box with a minimum amount of money (taken out several times a day) and a hot water maker to make coffee or tea. Oh, and there are picnic tables outside and an invitation to walk around in the gardens. People seem to love it because it makes them feel almost as if they are in their own house. It has the “make yourself at home,” and “we trust you like family” feel to it. And whether or not Rosie or Nigel have ever met them, they are treated like family. Everyone is welcome.
I’ve only worked two days so far, which consisted of me following Rosie around the garden as she tried to organize in her head what needed to be done (and often times resulted at unorganized processes-again, remind you of anyone?) as we picked the produce and did weeding. I also have been put in charge of checking on the shop first thing in the morning and making sure everything is stocked, clean, and the money box in order. On Saturday we cleaned a house they rent out to those on holiday, which meant vacuuming, washing, wiping surfaces, etc. So the work is quite varied.
There is another worker here named Simon, an older gent of soft temperament who has taken it upon himself to cook the first few days I’ve been here, and quickly gets up to do the dishes before I even notice it’s happened. I’m sure this will not persist, but it is very kind of him. I mean, it won’t persist, if I have anything to do with it.
What I’ve noticed most about this farm is how easy going and happy everyone is. Rosie is happy to let the workers take on whatever they fancy or are best at, let them set their own hours and take off on their own. She’s not stuck on routine or tradition. Rosie and Nigel’s gentle, caring and joyful personalities trickle down to the rest of us creating quite the beautiful social dynamic. Today I came back from exploring to find a note on my door inviting me into their home for dinner. We ate dinner, drank beer, had dessert, and played songs on guitar for each other. They also shared a Gaelic song with me and are planning to sneak me into a ceilidh they are singing at. There is evidence everywhere here of people who love life, love each other, and continue living and creating as if it was the first day of their lives.
Again, my only regret is that I’m only here for two and a half weeks. Also, I hope I become like Rosie on 30 years.