Six Ways Country Living is Changing Me
Several weeks ago, I was planting some vegetable, herb, and flower seeds when I realized how unmistakably new yet refreshingly right my new daily routines felt. I laughed as the crisp country breeze blew across the valley and sent my hair flying in different directions. I had forgotten my gardening hat inside the house and struggled as I meticulously planted them. I was tickled by the realization that life is so drastically different from the way it used to be six months ago. This was not how I spent my days in the city.
There I was, surrounded by compost I had picked up from a mushroom farm not too far away, a bale of hay from a local feed store which I'd picked up the day before, some organic potting soil, my gardening tools, and my seed packets which I'd ordered online. Everything about starting a garden in our new property felt so new – yet it all felt so right.
It felt as though I was discovering a happier side of me. It's been six months since we left the city for a simple and slower-paced life in the country. These days, I wake up and discover, to my surprise, how many new things I actually love and enjoy doing. My routines have changed and my overall health has seen amazing improvements. Here are just a few of the improvements I've seen:
1. BETTER SLEEP
The quality of my sleep has improved tremendously. I wake up feeling rejuvenated and eager to get outside, open the windows, listen to the birds and water my plants. Because my early morning routine now includes more outdoor chores, I find I not only get sleepy earlier at night, but my quality of sleep is better, too! I know this is also due to the absence of light pollution from street lights — something I struggled with in the city. In the country, the sky is dark, except for nights when the moon and stars are out...then it really makes me want to sing, "Whennnnnnn theeeee moon hits your eye like a BIG pizza pie, that's AMOREEEEE." The other night, the moon was so bright and visible from our living room sofa we delayed bedtime and stared at the moon.
2. A NEW ATTITUDE ON LIFE
This is perhaps one of the biggest changes I've noticed. I tend to stress and worry less. I'm more intentional about being present and in the moment. I didn't realize it then, but when we were in the city, I was constantly looking for something to be anxious about — something to keep me from relaxing and experiencing true rest and relaxation. I felt guilty for taking naps or taking breaks. I often told Kerwin I couldn't afford to nap in the daytime or sleep earlier at night because I was scared of missing out on getting things done. Now, we live a mile from a lavender farm, so these days, when I'm in need of a short break, I spend time outdoors and take a walk outside. I don't feel guilty about scheduling periods of rest anymore.
3. A VIBRANT PRAYER LIFE
Mornings in the country are absolutely refreshing! The birds are twittering away and Woody the woodpecker is perched on his favorite tree. The morning breeze is cool, crisp and clean. In the mornings, we open our windows and let the fresh air in as the sun rises behind the hills. Our house is southeast facing, so we get to watch the sun's rays stretch behind the horizon. This is now my favorite way to wake up. I love to spend time in prayer and read the Bible by the window where I can see the hills and valleys and listen to the birds singing their morning songs.
I'm beginning to understand why God chose the Garden of Eden as Adam and Eve's first home. Being surrounded by the beauty of God's creation is a constant reminder of God's desire to be one with us. Nature beckons us to praise our Creator and commune with Him daily. It's impossible to be surrounded by His handiwork yet deny His attention to detail.
4. SPIRITUAL LESSONS FROM THE GARDEN
Gardening reminds me so much of my spiritual life. When we lived in the condo and planted seeds in our north-facing balcony, our plants didn't grow very well. They were not in the right environment and didn't have the necessary growing conditions. Our balcony only got thirty minutes of sunlight each day. Since our home is southeast facing, our garden gets at least eight to nine hours of good sunlight each day. And guess what? The fresh country air, sunlight and pollinators have done wonders for our plants!
City life was convenient in many ways, yet my prayer life often suffered because of the many things to do in the city. I was always on the go, and felt as though I was failing to keep up with everyone around me. Busy seemed to be the epitome of every waking second of my life. There was no time to pause, unwind and reflect on God's wondrous miracles. It felt as though I was living in a concrete jungle.
5. ACCESS TO FRESH, ORGANIC PRODUCE
We used to be able to drive three minutes to our favorite organic health food store to pick up any missing ingredients for dinner. These days, if, for some reason, we're missing an ingredient while in the middle of meal prep, we improvise and work with what we have. For items we're unable to buy locally or grow in our own garden, we drive to the city and get what we need from Costco. Kerwin usually sends me a text message before driving home from work and asks if there's anything we need from the store.
We like to support local farmers by buying organically grown fruits and vegetables from neighboring farms and the local weekly farmers' market. We live a mile from an organic farm called Morning Star Ranch and two miles from Stehly Organic Farm. My first visit to Stehly was two weeks ago. I was at Whole Foods with my mother-in-law, who happened to be looking at a bag of organic oranges. The label on the bag said, "Stehly Organic Farm". That's when I exclaimed, "Mom, I just remembered we live so close to that farm! Let me give them a call and ask if we can stop by and get some fresh fruits from them."
An hour later, we found ourselves at the farm. We met Shawn, who manages the farm. He told us about the farm's story. His great grandfather started the farm many years ago. My jaw dropped when he told us they have eight hundred acres of farmland! It's a lot of land! They sell their fruits to big stores like Whole Foods. Fortunately, we can skip the one-hour drive to Whole Foods and save a lot of gas by buying freshly picked fruits from our neighbors' farm. While they primarily sell by crates, they also sell smaller quantities of fruit to customers who show up. I couldn't believe I had never been to the farm — and to think we've been neighbors for six months and I didn't know we were only two miles away from a huge organic farm!
That afternoon, mom and I sampled fruits. She said we were in strawberry heaven! I agree! We returned home with fresh, organic strawberries, black berries, avocados and blood oranges. Kerwin was delighted to return home from work with freshly picked fruits waiting for him. They were all so juicy! For the next couple days, our house smelled like strawberries!
OK. Back to this post!
6. QUALITY TIME IN NATURE
Owning a home in the country is an exciting adventure. My favorite part of country living is getting to spend quality time outdoors with my sweet Kerwin. We enjoy walking on the dirt roads and exploring our area. We love watching the hummingbirds fight over their food! Who knew those adorable little birds are so selfish when it comes to food!
On the weekends, we team up and do our gardening chores together. On starry nights, we step outside to watch the stars, while listening to the frog serenade from the creek. We are finding so many new ways to spend time together without ever spending a dime! And the best part is we get to discover new things we both enjoy doing together!
I'm excited to see what God has in store for us this year, and can't wait to share more about our adventures in the country. There are already so many things to write about...like gophers and coyotes! Haha! More on that in a future post.
Today, I'm thankful for...
our local, organic farmers
fresh, country air
What do you love and appreciate about your neighborhood?
Let me know in the comments section below.