• Staying Grounded: Remembering a Trip to Somerset, England

    Our fast paced world has so many advantages. With the click of a few buttons we have access to information from all over the world; we can make reservations, manage our finances and shop — all from the comfort of our own home. As technologies become faster and faster so do our expectations. We often get frustrated when a Google search doesn’t produce the information we need, our internet fails, or we can’t get that product we need by tomorrow. We might find that we have less patience in general with errands that are more time consuming such as a stop at the dry cleaners, the post office, or having to take something back to the store for a return. One could argue that our modern conveniences clear up time so we can attend to more important things. But sometimes, I think, life is what happens when we are waiting in line or when we are in process.

    I’m remembering a week spent a few years back staying with a fiercely independent and energetic relative who was just shy of 90 years old. Elizabeth, a widow of 40 years, lived in a rural village of Somerset in England. The table was set for breakfast the night before. And in the mornings we would wake up to the smell of fresh bread and coffee. After breakfast we would take long walks through the countryside with Kelly, Elizabeth’s devoted german shephard. I remember the distinct smell of the barbour coat that captured something of the earthy essence of this particular time and place. Going to the post office was not merely something to check off of a to-do list but a way to get a taste of life in this particular village. I remember being introduced to Heather, the clerk at the post office. Elizabeth asked after Heather’s parents and extended family and she, in turn, clearly had heard about us, the American relatives. I was surprised and delighted to find that the post office sold fresh eggs as well as stamps. In the afternoon everything would stop for tea time. The tea tray was laid out just the same way it had been done by her mother many years before. This ritual set apart time to recharge and reconnect. A very different spirit than going through the drive-through at Starbucks to get a caffeine hit.

    Today Show contributing nutritionist Joy Bauer named “clean” as the health trend for 2015. Although there is not a precise definition for what constitutes clean eating, it has to do with consuming foods that are as close to their natural state as possible and minimizing artificial ingredients or highly processed foods. It seems that if we want to eat cleaner we need to be much more conscious about food. It also likely translates into more labor in the kitchen and maybe more stops to get ingredients that are organic or fresh.

    This summer I’ve taken some small steps to eat cleaner. And I’m realizing that these activities that I initiated for the sole purpose of eating healthier are also nourishing in themselves— breathing in the fresh air at a farm stand, the beauty of the brightly colored produce, and the tactile pleasures of getting my fingers in the soil. Although I’m not living in a cottage in the English countryside nor on the California farmland where my parents grew up, I’m feeling more connected to the land and the natural rhythms and this helps to keep me grounded when I simultaneously can’t imagine living without my cell phone — my connection to the world at the click of the button.