It’s not really Tuesday anymore. Even though yesterday was over 32 hours long, I am just now, in the wee hours of Wednesday, starting to write. It’s jet lag. I flew home from Europe yesterday, making that amazing journey of 16 hours that transports you from one world to another. I am still in a different time zone but I am secretly loving these quiet and sleepless hours of the night/morning to reenter slowly.
I just spent 10 days biking around the mountains and countryside of Slovenia. What a gift that I have a group of women who invite me to adventure with them. With hours of biking everyday, there was plenty of time to soak up the surroundings.
There were plenty of take aways from this trips but what struck the deepest chord with me was how quiet and how simple life seemed to be as I viewed it from my bike. It didn’t take long to notice the sounds – the wind, the church bells, the cows and their bells, the birds, rushing water, and the hum of a tractor cutting hay. The word bucolic kept coming to mind, immediately followed by peaceful.
While I won’t claim to have any deep understanding of Slovenians and their culture, what I saw and felt in the countryside was a connection to the earth and her rhythms. Every house we passed, every single farmhouse – and there were countless – had an amazing and abundant garden. Most of the time we saw someone tending the garden, watering each plant from watering cans – not preprogrammed drip lines – and picking weeds by hand. The garden tenders ranged from young mothers with children playing nearby to old men who looked like the might not be able to get back to their feet.
Every single farmhouse had overflowing window boxes of thriving flowers. We wondered if it was similar to a US housing development covenant rule – if your farmhouse did not have the requisite flower boxes, you would be heavily fined or asked to move out of the village. We made a point to find any rose bush that needed dead heading which took three days and 100 miles of country villages to locate. We could feel the pride in those flowers and gardens. Not a haughty show offy pride, but the pride that comes from hard work. We saw people working in their gardens and fields because that was simply what you did. People seemed to be enjoying their work and that simplicity of it. We didn’t see anxious hurried faces, or preoccupied weed pulling, and definitely did not see a single ear bud attached to a box of entertainment.
So, what of this can I bring to a classroom? Take away the noise. Not just the actual noise but the noise of excess. Boil it down to what is essential and don’t let the busyness of the rest of the world change our focus. Keep the expectations simple yet high. Tend our own gardens daily by hand.