Harrowsmith: getting back to basics

Daniel threw another log on the fire and settled back into his favorite old armchair.He slid his slippered feet underneath Willie's haunches. The golden retriever looked around, shifted slightly, sighed and went back to sleep.Daniel picked up his book and tried...

Daniel threw another log on the fire and settled back into his favorite old armchair.

He slid his slippered feet underneath Willie’s haunches. The golden retriever looked around, shifted slightly, sighed and went back to sleep.

Daniel picked up his book and tried again to concentrate, but it was no use – Margaret Atwood’s Wilderness Tips would have to wait.

It wasn’t that he was sleepy, although it had been a hard weekend and he luxuriated in the body fatigue that comes from strenuous days spent outdoors.

Let’s see, he and Anne had harvested most of what was left of the vegetables. He sank deeper into the chair and thought with satisfaction of the two shelves of chili sauce and pickles they had to show for the labor they had completed none too soon.

Mid-September was here already and, so far, no frost, but it would come tonight, he was certain of it.

Thank goodness for the fireplace. He studied the field stones with satisfaction. It had been a hard job, a daunting task for someone who had never worked with stone before, but now that it was finished, Daniel had to admit that he had done a good job.

Certainly, he would never have tried it without the help of that article in Harrowsmith – that, and Anne’s encouragement had helped him overcome his brother-in-law’s skepticism.

It had been well worth it. Here was the pay-off – a brisk Sunday evening in September, and what was he doing while the rest of the world seemed to be bracing itself for rush-hour traffic?

He was curled up here by the fire, while Anne cleared away the remains of the late supper he had cooked. A salad from the garden along with a perfect omelette made with local eggs.

What a wonderful life, Daniel thought. For a moment, he dreaded going into the city on Tuesday, but his consultant’s business still required his presence there, although he and Anne now managed to stretch their weekends out for three days.

Sometimes, particularly in the summer, they stayed for four.

Anne worried that she would have trouble working at her freelance writing outside the bustle and stress of urban life, but instead she was finding it easier to work in the studio she had created for herself in the former attic.

She had winterized it, added skylights and decorated it herself, and Daniel wondered how long it would be before they would tackle the solarium project they had been researching.

Daniel’s thoughts wandered again to the omelette he had made for himself and the wine they had made themselves last year. Not perfect, but a decent pinot noir.

Maybe next year they would try raising chickens and have their own eggs. The fire crackled, and he was filled with an immense rush of satisfaction.

Everything was going according to plan. Five years ago, he had been a pinched and harried businessman intent on getting ahead, building contacts, a bigger house, a better car, designer everything.

But something had changed, and while he still enjoyed life’s finer amenities, he discovered a growing appreciation for country living’s simpler life.

Ever since they had bought this small acreage with its century-old farmhouse, weekends in the country meant building new rail fences, learning to cook, restoring the old barn and taking up the fine art of fly fishing.

The truth was, that at 44, both he and Anne were more like the people they had been 20 years ago when they first met, fresh out of university, filled with plans for the future, committed to building a better life for themselves and their children.

Now those children were busy teenagers, not much interested in settling in the country, but that would change, Daniel was certain.

For now, they were more interested in planning their futures, universities, boyfriends, career choices. Just this weekend while they were putting the canoe away for the winter, Anne had grown wistful about how little the kids seemed to need them.

It was true, Daniel thought, their lives were gradually separating, and while he would miss the constant demands of parenthood, he also relished the new stage that his and Anne’s lives were moving into.

He looked forward to spending more time travelling and pursuing their new hobbies together.

He got up and gave the fire another stir just as Anne came into the room and settled into the sofa with the new Harrowsmith on her lap.

Yes, life was good, thought Daniel, now that there was time – time to fulfill plans, time to watch the seasons change, time to build and time to grow.

Cecily Ross is managing editor and Fred Laflamme is vice-president, group publisher at Harrowsmith, a Telemedia Communications publication.