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The Not So Romantic Parts - Wednesday 10/10/12

Illness. It is upon us and I have observed it tends to occur around the transition of the seasons.
As our bodies slow down to combat the invasion, one can suffer, or one can embrace the time and change of pace we are gifted.
On this occasion, I have reflected and observed some very important and often overlooked factors when it comes to living the much romanticized, almost mythical 'simple life'.

Thankfully my affliction is minor and its main effect is lethargy. But even this can present a challenge. Energy must still be expended if the fire is to be kept fed and the wood supply replenished. Feeling tired can amplify the feeling of exertion and sap morale.
From the perspective of a father, it appears there is scant opportunity for a mother to rest to the extent her body requires. The demands of infants does not slacken, in fact they seemingly increase if the child has also contracted the infection. This in turn appears to prolong the duration of the illness in the host.
Living in close proximity takes on a new dimension as you cower in the extremities of your abode, hoping that the cough and splutter that just erupted from your eight year old and showered your cheek holds no dire consequence.

Relative to most, my family and I do exist closer to 'nature' or 'the edge' so to speak, but the truth is we are no where as near as our ancestors nor indeed the bulk of the worlds population today.

No, unlike most, when unwell we cannot, and do not, lie in bed sipping on mass produced pharmaceutical 'remedies' whilst heating is activated via a timer, food procured from a freezer, blasted with microwaves and reputedly edible in minutes etc.
Nor do we walk a tight rope where pneumonia or the risk of more severe disease is a reality. This is due in part to having friends and family who dwell in houses with the aforementioned conveniences  where we can retreat if needs dictate, as well as having the safety net delivered by Universal Free Healthcare in the form of the NHS. Thankfully we rarely need to play that card, but it's very existence is a comfort and worth acknowledgement.

I am sure I am not the first modern youth who was flabbergasted when told that the common cold swept like a plague through the indigenous population of the Americas, with deadly effect, when first the white man arrived.

Now, I believe I am closer to understanding why. If it wasn't the disease itself, then a contributing factor could have been the ease of its transmission compounded by the difficulty of functioning and fulfilling basic, everyday needs. A whole family, even village could quickly become incapacitated (this still happens today!) and a vicious spiral could easily begin.

Sadly, a lifestyle such as my own is undeniably elitist. Natural selection at work in its ugliest and crudest form. No amount of currency will fill the void of not being able to lift your head off your pillow to light your stove. Your bank account cannot put food into your mouth. Your estate will not magically manifest a watertight shelter.
Consequently, I admit to being probably overly cautious when sawing and chopping wood for instance. No 'injurylawyers4u' will be able to replace the functionality of a severed thumb or chopped foot. A broken leg could easily mean many weeks of hardship not solely for me but for my entire family.

At Lammas I witnessed dreamers from all ages, backgrounds and walks of life come to visit, nearly all wishing to engage in a similar endeavour. For a few, the realisation that they would not physically be able to do so without relying on another was a sobering and hard to swallow truth to say the least.
Nature does not adhere to any amount of disability or equality legislation.
This is not to say these folk were beyond hope. Far from it. Their challenge only slightly increased by the need to re-unite their family. To rediscover the strength a family unit provides. It is no accident why family is so very very important, perhaps not literally and physically so much in the western world, but you need not travel far to see it in action.

I am able to meet the demands and challenges I am faced with, but this will not always be so. Is the answer a pension plan? No. It is my family, primarily my offspring. They are my retirement fund. They just don't know it yet!

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