“Look, mushrooms!” The tiny rental car hiccups to a stop. The moving boxes slide dangerously, but we manage to squeeze past them and out of the car. Freddy is already on his knees at the base of an ancient pine tree. Everywhere we look, we see mushrooms popping up from among the fallen needles and leaves.
We are in the middle of the Berkshire woods. We picked up the moving boxes a minute ago from someone who offered them second-hand. He lives on an estate that seems to have been converted into a haven for well-to-do retirees. We’re pretty sure picking mushrooms isn’t allowed, but Freddy takes a few to identify them at home.
The mushrooms, moving boxes and a muddy little boy make it back home safely. We have taken the first step towards our departure from the United Kingdom. We’ve been living in this country since 2012, and two and a half years ago we settled in Reading. The place where Y. was born, and where he now plays with his friends at nursery. I myself changed careers and started working as a volunteer coordinator, which I thoroughly enjoy. We’re going to leave it all behind. Not an easy thing to do, but there are many beautiful things that we take with us.
Our narrow Victorian garden, with the big willow as a waterfront watchman, felt like home right from the start.
The river flows past our garden and will take you to the Thames if you let it. But that is mainly Freddy’s habitat, when he goes out with his canoe.
I myself walk upstream with Y., where the river passes by the park. Roaming around here day after day, we have become part of this place. The blackberry bush on the corner, which we could pick all summer long; the arguing magpies that chase each other; the parasol tree that has such beautiful autumn leaves.
Together with a friend who also has a little one, we mark the changing of the seasons. Simple words to reflect on the passionate growth in spring, the abundance of summer, and the slow dieback in the fall.
In the UK we discovered movements like Dark Mountain and Extinction Rebellion. Here is a podcast (by Nomad, a group of theologians) that features Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion.
Thanks to Freddy’s efforts in the allotment, we eat what the season has in store for us. Recently Freddy has also become a mushroom forager. He has already found some delicious edible mushrooms. Unfortunately, the ones that he found during expedition “moving box” turned out to be too tricky to identify for sure.
Can you take a sense of rootedness with you to another place?
The river flows on.
Our next stop is an eco-village in the Netherland, ecodorp Zuiderveld. We hope to move here at the end of December, so we still have plenty of time to pack our boxes. While clearing out shelves, I found a birthday card from last year. It has a poem by Confucius:
The course of the water.
I follow the course of the water. I sit still, do nothing.
Spring comes and the grass grows by itself.