It is the first of January, a new year awakens. The mist still hangs thick outside, but I have to go out and feed the horses. No sleeping late for me today, no matter the excesses of last night/early morning hours.
As I sit down on the old wooden bench on the porch, same as I do every morning, I think about this week’s Mundane Monday Challenge post – a challenge to find beauty in mundane objects. Bit difficult to find something mundane amongst all the tinsel, glitter and sparkle of the Christmas and New Year period. My eyes fall on my old, weather-worn boots, the same boots I pull up every morning and put on without really noticing them. It is just something I do automatically every morning, half-asleep still, without really thinking about it. I put on my old, well-worn leather boots, come rain or shine, before I venture out into the world. I have had this so far indestructible pair for 8 years now – they are now starting to show signs of wear and tear.
They may look mundane and unappreciated there in their dusty corner, but they are essential to my well-being.
Sitting there on the bench in my warm woollen socks, I pause for a moment. I look up, past the horses gathered at their hay rack, past the lake, over the oak trees of our little wood towards the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenées mountains in the distance.
And I think about all the things I take for granted.
Like my comfortable and familiar boots. I should be grateful for these boots. I should notice them, I should pay attention to them, I should be grateful that I own them. They protect my toes from fractures should a coffee plate size hoof come down on my toes with a full ton of weight behind it, they protect my ankles from sprains should I twist them slipping on the mud, they keep my feet warm and dry in all weathers…
They are not the only things I forget to be grateful for, the only things I take for granted. I have so many things to be grateful for:
I live in a beautiful, recently restored 400-year-old French farmhouse in a part of France, the foothills of the Pyrenées mountains, where the air is still as fresh as just-pressed orange juice from the trees in our orchard.
Where the water is pure, without pollution (we have it tested every year), because it bubbles to the surface from lakes deep below the mountains to the six springs that flow into our lake, one that has been diverted to provide water for the house.
Where light pollution is almost non-existent, and the milky way lies unblemished across the sky at night and the only noise pollution we have to cope with is the odd tractor driving by.
Where people still believe that good food, good wine and good company is all that is needed to make to make the perfect evening, where families dine together on Sunday lunches that last for six or more hours while all the shops are closed, where food is grown in potagers and orchards or raised in the back yard and where weekly food markets provide everything else you need, fresh and more and more often organic.
Where our horses can live out in supreme comfort, year round if they so choose (and luckily they do), as a contented herd, as nature intended, with space to roam, various herbs to eat as well as lush green grass in summer and fragrant filled-with-dried-wild-flowers hay in winter.
Where we have managed to create my dream of hosting mindfulness meditation retreats guided by our horses: a peaceful, secluded but not isolated haven where people can come to get away from all the hustle and bustle of city life, relax without a care, sleep like new-borns and learn to meditate so that they will be able to expertly handle the stress that comes their way when they return home.
We have lived here for a year now and we are starting to take all this for granted, focusing instead on what still needs doing, what still needs planting, painting, pruning…
This year, my New Year’s resolution is to be grateful for everything that so immeasurably enriches my life: starting with the most beautifully mundane: a pair of dusty, old, well-worn leather boots.