If you live and work in a big city, you can probably attest to the fact that as city dwellers we rarely give ourselves permission to slow down. Our day-to-day is fast paced because “fast” means “productive”, and boy do we love to get stuff done! Somedays it can feel like an endless race; masses of people rushing to get places, filing in and out of down-town offices on a 9 to 5 clock. It’s enough to make me stand like a rock in white waters – to throw my hands into the air and yell “what is it all for!” Suffice it to say, a 24 hour hustle leaves me feeling tired and unfulfilled.
In my experience, a visit to the country is a sure way to gain perspective, reconnect with your true valves, and reevaluate your priorities. Here are my top 7 things to love about visiting the country.
1. The Permission to Slow Life Down
Mantra: “Be here, in this moment”. I think of visiting the country as an invitation to slow down. Simply becoming aware of the tiny beautiful happenings of the present begins to set life on a slower track. The warm breeze brushing over your bare arms. The hum of cicadas in the surrounding trees. Ask yourself, “Where is my mind wandering?” and “Why is it there?” Mindfulness for the gifts of the present moment breeds gratitude like you wouldn’t believe!
2. Filling Your Lungs with Fresh Morning Air
I am the furthest things from a morning person, but something about the country air has me up bright and early without fail. Here’s how I greet a country morning (usually still in my pyjamas): three or four deep, energizing breaths with my faced turned towards the rising sun, followed by simple stretches to work out the kinks of slumber. This is also my favourite time to practice yoga, for as little or as long as I like, while honouring how I’m feeling on that given day.
3. Visiting the Farmer’s Markets
Grab your wicker basket and walking shoes for a visit to the country farmer’s market! The variety of food items always astounds me! Fruits and veggies are guaranteed to be grown within a few miles range, and they were probably harvested yesterday (if not today!) My husband and I have fallen in love with heirloom carrots, fiddle heads, and foraged mushrooms. In fact, going to the market makes me feel like a forager myself! I always return home feeling rather proud of my organic treasures. You may or may not have exact plans for your market bounty, but collaborating with the family on how to pull together lunch and dinner is certainly part of the adventure.
4. Picking Wildflowers for the Table
Venture into the country brush and you’ll find incredible beauty amidst the tangled chaos. Blooms of every size, shape, and colour coexist in harmony. Buttercups and Daisies, Tiger Lilies, and Lily of the Valley are perfectly eclectic, and look nothing short of charming as a table centre piece. Gather 8-10 blooms along with a few simple greens as filler. Fill a vase, mason jar, or any handy vessel with some water, and casually arrange your flowers. Although I usually give my bouquet a gentle shake before placing it in water, I recommend reserving your wildflowers for alfresco dining as there may be a little bug or two who are keen to join your party!
5. Doting on Antique Charm
Old family photos, fresh blooms, and crocheted doilies are just some of the quintessential charm you’ll find in the country. In my eyes, every nook becomes a picture perfect vignette, from grandma’s beloved cello standing in the corner, to Uncle Florian’s vintage cookie cutter collection adorning the walls. Everything has history and often a very interesting story. So if you see photos or ornaments that pique your interest, ask about them!
6. Harvesting Garden Vegetables
Pull some root veggies straight from the soil, and twist bright red tomatoes off their vine! They’ll be the testiest plants you’ve ever had, largely in part because self-sufficiency is so satisfying. With my sunhat on and hands covered in dirt, I could spend hours digging and weeding. For me, gardening is about being engaged in one task, with my entire body – a sort of moving meditation. Leaps and bounds from the desk-jockey slog, gardening keeps your body active while your mind is free to wander like the clouds overhead.
7. Dining Al Fresco
Sun drenched days are followed by languid evenings spent outdoors in the temperate breeze. We carry out the flatware, and the dish ware, the stemware and the wine! It may seem like a lot of effort to move the dining room outdoors, but it’s a country summer must and my favourite way to dine! This is my idea of simplicity and luxury.
When I visit the country and I begin to slow life down, I enjoy hard work as well as relaxation. I begin to really listen to the people I’m with, giving my full attention to their thoughts, their feelings and their stories. It’s in the country where I being to feel that I’m connecting with my true values – and friends, isn’t that what life is for?