Our summer is done. The weather is still warm and the leaves are still on the trees, but our summer of living in the woods is finished. This marks a new beginning for us. We’re rested, refocused, and ready to get Peartree Leather Co. rolling to it’s full potential.
This summer was a good one, but also had some struggles, and we want to share them with you. While our pictures and posts made things look quite glamorous and styled, the truth is that any place can start to grow redundant if you let it. Regardless of living situation, you can either choose to let it be beautiful, or slowly watch it creep into the mundane. We have that choice; it’s not a matter of money, time, or style. It just takes love for the place and a willingness to invest in it and make it better. It means spending time in that environment and imagining good things for it. Bringing friends to that place and spending time together. Making a beautiful space or retreat is not a matter of buying the right things to put there, but investing time and imagination to it.
Our garden this summer was both a huge success and an embarrassing flop. Before this summer, the only thing I had ever grown successfully was a tomato plant (only one of the three I had planted really gave any fruit). This summer I got to dig a bed and plant some vegetables I hadn’t tried growing before. We had planted beans (managed to harvest a good few before we left), cucumbers (succeeded to grow a whole 3 lumpy things off of two plants), mesclun mix (dead), spinach (dead), Yucaipa lettuce (eaten by slugs), cabbage (no progress), cauliflower (failed miserably), onions (didn’t grow), and some herbs (which turned out lovely). The truth is that most of what we grew didn’t turn out. The soil here is acidic and full of rocks, so the plants didn’t have much to grab on to. But the gardening was fun! While there wasn’t much yield, it was still beautiful to watch the way that things change throughout the season. I got to water the garden and take care of something beautiful. Even though it didn’t produce much I’m ready to try a garden again, having learned more than a few lessons about plants.
Our leather work here has felt somewhat similar to the gardening. We’ve been trying to order leather since the beginning of June and still nothing has come through. After having run a kickstarter campaign and expecting to have received our order a long time ago we were left somewhat helpless. We’re still waiting on the leather and things are unsure for us at this point. But we’ve learned a lot through it. We used up all of the leather that we had ordered previously, but we want to wait until everything is made before we start shipping. Like the garden, we lack control in a lot of areas of our life and need to learn to work around that. I will be making adjustments to how I run a business based on experience in the same way that I will be making adjustments to my garden over the years.
Tracy and I had lofty ambitions for this summer. We knew we would have a lot of time on our hands and saw that as an opportunity to load it up with all kinds of things that we have been meaning to do for years. Tracy was going to journal, paint, and read everyday. I planned to run regularly and get lots of exercise. We both wanted to spend more time in prayer over the summer. But things don’t always work out the way we plan. Certain activities took a lot of time out of our day and the fact is that we didn’t always feel like doing those things. Leading up to this time, Tracy and I had both made “the woods” out to be a magical place where everything would change and we would be filled with limitless amounts of energy to do all of the things we’ve always wanted to do but haven’t had the time. But things don’t really change. Well, they do, but not the way we think they will. We are constantly told that we can change by buying the right product, or buying the right home, or taking the right vacation; and that all of those things will allow us the energy to do what we’ve always wanted. But change isn’t so closely linked to the things that we acquire or the places we go. It’s actually tied more to the things we decide not to acquire and where we decide we maybe shouldn’t go. Allowing ourselves the freedom to not do certain things opens up space within ourselves to grow. It’s a slow process that comes from the inside by constantly de-cluttering our time from things that won’t bring life to ourselves and others. We need to refocus and eliminate to be able to find space for the areas in which we wish to grow. We have both been learning a lot from Freedom of Simplicity by Richard J. Foster. He addresses a lot of the questions that Tracy and I had wanted answered over the summer. This summer freed up a bit of space for simplicity, but we’re looking forward to applying it more to a “normal” setting, where we are not so isolated from groups and friends and other’s struggles.
The uprooting from Nova Scotia was a weird one; we still don’t feel like we’re back. We flew from our quiet life in the maritimes to the busiest airport in Canada. The shift was so sudden and so far removed from how we have been spending our last few months that it feels like a whole different life. The truth is that it’s sometimes easier to make a huge shift than to make a small change that will fit into the rest of your life. And this summer was definitely that - a huge shift. It’s difficult being back. We’ve been thrown back into a world where we are surrounded by screens, internet, and fast food with no time to adjust and prepare. For that reason, it almost feels like this summer was a dream. We have reset to the way we lived before we left for the woods. For about a week we will be living with my parents so that we can find a new apartment in Hamilton. Having returned, we need to make sure that we are looking back to where we came from in order to remember what good habits and lessons we had learned there and try to reintroduce them to living in the city. It’s going to be a difficult process but we’re looking forward to it.
So here’s to another beginning. Our lives are full of endings and beginnings, we are constantly transitioning between something or other, the trick is learning how to transition gracefully. Let’s hope we can do just that. This next stage for us will involve learning how to slowly reintroduce simplicity into our day-to-day, and to live a lifestyle that is minimalistic yet firmly rooted. We want to make space for growth within ourselves by eliminating what we don’t need.