WIDENING MY HORIZONS
The first time I met Mariken, she hugged me so close, without knowing me at all. We had talked briefly via email, via Help-X, which in itself is a WWOOFing platform, which in turn is a movement to bring volunteers to organic farms.
Previous to this meeting, and even before my study-abroad exchange I had talked with my mother about the possibilities of working for room and board. Or rather, my mother had conjectured the idea, and I had hated it. But now, five months into my transformative journey, I found myself wanting to widen my horizons.
So there I was, at Brenazet, a small campsite inhabited by all manner of interesting beings. They were: Mariken and Ron, the good-natured Dutch couple and all round extraordinary individuals, their sons Igor and Nikola, the black dog Elza, a stable full of ponies, a brood of chickens, and all of the guests.
And oh man, were my horizons stretched in that one week!
THINGS I LEARNT AT BRENAZET
That it is possible to find an extra family, at a home away from home. Also, that it is possible to keep that extra family in your heart and mind for a very long time.
That it is possible to get up every morning, make tea, do yoga, go on a hike, dig in the garden, and bake a cake; to do all of that, and make it your life.
That there are people out there who build their own homes, their own pizza ovens, their own barns, their own ponds, and their own ecological water filtering systems. That there are people who don't care that someone told them it was improbable, and did it anyway.
That I am one of those people.
That raw carrot cake can taste good, even though all those other ones tasted so bad.
That nudity is not such a big deal
That you can put bee pollen in smoothies. Also, that you may eat, if you wish, the plantain that grows in the grass in your front yard.
That belief can be part of the creation of a reality, and even though there may be two people with two opposing ideas, it does not mean the other's reality is any less valid.
That people will do kind things for others, will paint them a masterpiece to hang on the stable door, or will save garlic for their neighbors.
That French wood cutters also do yoga.
That I have a deep-rooted desire to spend my future days building and gardening and sprouting beans; my evenings reading, and talking and painting with kin.
That it is an amazing thing to simply listen to one another, with a wide open mind.