The flowing river

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.

Paint­ing a sun for the sum­mer solstice.

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.