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It is a well-accepted maxim that life moves quickly. We say it to each other as we attempt to schedule lunch dates, as we see the rush of growth in a child over a few months, as we marvel that another winter is hurtling to a close. Life moves fast, but many of us don’t feel that we can do anything about it.
Slowing Life Down
My husband and I chose to purchase a small former dairy farm in 2015 in an attempt to slow life down. All we heard from anyone who had raised children was, “It goes so fast.”
We could sense this happening as our children flew from one stage to another, progressing through growth phases seemingly before our eyes.
When the opportunity to purchase our current home came up, we knew that this was the place where we could really make the kind of life we wanted.
Let Nature Capture Your Attention
Our farm life is a simple life. We designed it this way purposely to allow us maximum time both together and outside.
We have eight acres to roam, full of fields, woods, hills. Our little orange cat, Atticus, splits his time between the rich hunting grounds of the corn fields and the warm patch of sunlight on the living room sofa.
Our children spend a lot of time outside and many of their playthings are whatever they find in nature. One of their favorite places to play is under a small grove of box elder trees (weed trees, my dad calls them) that have captured their imagination. I don’t know what they see when they are in their “cave,” as they have named it, but it can hold their attention longer than any television show.
They also play beneath our massive, warped, ancient crabapple that rises up haphazardly from the middle of the backyard, climbing up its trunk to sit in the branches that stretch parallel to the ground. They disobey and climb up the old ladders to the upper level of the barn by themselves and pretend that they have the world’s largest playhouse.
They play in the hammock chair by the garden, climbing and spinning and making it do things it was not designed to do. They ride their bikes or scooters around our large circular driveway and see how fast they can go as the wind whips through their hair.
The Four Seasons
We spend hours outside in the summertime, soaking up warm sunshine and taking evening walks as fireflies peek out of the tall field grass and the yellow moon begins to rise to the east of the barn. We plant a small garden, trying each year to figure out a better way to prevent weeds and increase yield (we’re doing raised beds this year). We spend as much time as possible in hammocks stretched between two ornamental trees at the edge of the old horse corral that now boasts only half of its original plank fence.
In autumn, we pick as many apples as we can from the four apple trees in the side yard, trying to find ones that the bugs haven’t destroyed, since we don’t want to spray pesticides on the trees. The deer come at night and eat the ones that have fallen on the ground, leaving their tracks in the soft ground under the branches. We watch as the leaves along the treeline burnish and glow, then brown and fall away.
In the winter, the snow covers our land with a blank canvas that our children cover with snow forts, snowmen, and sled tracks. The wind howls across the open fields, sculpting snow into drifts that look like sand dunes.
As the snow melts away in spring, we leave muddy boot prints in the ground as we go to the barn to collect eggs and fill the feeder with sweet-smelling hay for the goats. We watch buds appear on trees, sheepishly at first, then with a sudden explosion of green that transforms the landscape and brings with it excitement for the coming freedom of summer.
While our life is in no way perfect, it is decidedly simple.
We focus on spending time together and spending time in nature. We try to keep our schedule simple by being mindful of where our time is spent when we are away from our home. This is something that requires mindfulness and practice, as it is so contrary to our society, but the good news is: anyone can do it. You don’t need a farm or eight acres or apple trees.
All that is required is the decision to live one’s life with simplicity in mind. Decide to live a life that seeks out natural beauty, makes a practice of gratitude, and leaves time for rest. This can be done in a city, in a suburb, in an apartment.
Leave a small space for simplicity to take root in your life, and you will feel peace, joy, and contentment blossom in your soul.