A New City And Finding Home In Nature
Whatever peace I know rests in the natural world, in feeling myself a part of it, even in a small way. ~May Sarton in Journal Of A Solitude *
I moved to Tunisia three weeks ago to live with my partner and it has so far been a steady stream of new experiences full to the brim with new sounds, tastes, faces, places and feelings. My partner and I have flitted between city and countryside and I have already had my eyes and heart open wide with what I have seen so far.
We spent a precious day and night in Le Coin Perdu ‘the lost corner’ in the north of Tunisia, an ecological farm and architectural project in the making and home to trees of olive, pine and eucaplyptus, herbs, goats, chickens, cats, dogs, bees and a donkey. When it grew dark the world shrunk to encompass only my immediate surroundings, us around a fire in a lost corner of the earth. **
We also spent a few days on the family farm, tree trimming, eating traditional food made with the love of a mother (that soothed my homesick soul so much) and sleeping to the sound of wind and sea.
When we returned to the city of Tunis after several nature filled days I felt so lost. Not yet having a routine of any sort I struggled to find a rhythm. I was anxious with the possibility of it all, I was as Kierkegaard would describe, dizzy with freedom!
I argued with my partner about little things like tidying the kitchen and I realised I had not found home inside myself yet. We moved about our day in uncomfortable silence and I missed the countryside that even though was as foreign to me as the city, seemed to support me rather than overwhelm me. Something inside of me felt on familiar grounds surrounded by nature and it’s intelligent rhythm of living was recognised by my body.
The view of fields and sea my eyes could see wherever they turned. The smell of fresh air my nose constantly breathed in. The sound of silence, wind and birds my ears got used to. The feeling of soil and grass under my feet. The taste of tea early in the morning at the same time as nature was waking up. The taste of food made with love and local ingredients always at midday when the sun, like my digestive fire, was at it’s strongest.The feeling of sweet rest after a day of moving and being outside. The pure pleasure of closing my eyes when I could not stay wake anymore at ten.
When I write it out like this I realise how much I find home within me when I am in nature, wherever I am. The city in comparison feels less supportive in guiding me to grounded during these early days in Tunisia. The city seems to say find your own harmony within my many options and possibilities. It takes time to make friends with the city.
Back in the city I seek out familiar rituals that I used to use daily in London to keep me balanced within a busy schedule and hectic environment. I find yoga, meditation, an inspiring read, tea in a teapot, writing and kind words with warm people. And I feel myself returning to equilibrium I do, but I find myself questioning if I want to spend my days out of rhythm with nature and yes getting back into balance with tools I love, love, love yet in an environment that does not seem to support my efforts? As me and the city of Tunis get to know each other maybe it's about seeking out a little bit of nature everyday no matter how small.
* I highly recommend this amazing book.
** Another fantastic eco-farm so worth a visit in Tunisia is Mornag Eco Farm; just beautiful.