Solitude, a beautiful gift.
“The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil” Thomas A. Edison.
“I have to be alone very often. I'd be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That's how I refuel." Audrey Hepburn
A few of my friends gave me a strange look when I said what I was going away on my own for a weekend. They needed more of an explanation “but why” they would ask when I said my plan was to be alone. There look was of suspicion, was something wrong I wasn’t sharing? Why would someone want to be alone? But in solitude is rest, peace, refueling and then inspiration. It’s a spa retreat for the soul.
Kippilaw House, Picton
Well I wasn’t totally alone. Recently we had a lovely woman attend a workshop and an invitation to stay at her Picton B&B had been extended followed by me jumping at the chance! The result of that is I am now sitting in luxury writing overlooking Picton and surrounded by bush covered hills. Maragret McHugh, chef, teacher, hostess and total foodie gave me a warm welcome when I arrived at her gorgeous B&B, Kippilaw House. Upstairs in my antique furnished room with views of hills, and houses, boats and people walking by. Every attention has been served, nibbles await me, wine is chilling, and the bed is big with beautiful linens. My bathroom is beautiful and I have my own sitting room complete with a library of food books. Perfection!
There is something very good about being in a strange place on your own. I have no children needing my attention, no house work to distract me, no T.V or music playing. Just me and a small bird singing his spring love song outside my window. Our lives can be so busy, so full and at times demanding. To just sit, to breath, to dream, is not just nice but necessary to our whole wellbeing.
I lie on the bed, eyes wide open, gentle breeze from the open window brushing my cheek and imagine. I have come away to write my first book but first I need to have pictures, I struggle with projects I can’t see how they will be in my mind.
Soon I can see the book cover, the recipes forming before me, I can almost smell the sizzling bacon, taste its goodness, I imagine people together creating the blackberry beef recipe, and I picture it hanging in a garage, a wine cellar, a curing cabinet. I wonder about lavender and salmon and jot down a recipe I want to try when I get back. I picture tables spread with dishes using home cured products and anticipate the flavours. I want to mark seasons too, harvest elderflowers through to elderberries. Soon my mind has gone to a rush of too busy to focus on any one thing, it must be time for wine and the aroma of wild game pie is stretching temptingly round my door.
Wild Game Pie served in style
My weekend was spent eating Margarets wonderful food, reading by the sea, writing in my room and of course I had to share a little of my porky passion. We cured ½ a pig together, whole bellies infused with salt, sugar and spices lay soaking up flavor like sponge does water, salami, pepperoni and chorizo hung fermenting, the aroma’s drifting through the house.
Yum! Skill share with my host and her neigbour.
The neighbor, a lovely lady joined us. She was here to learn about curing then, Originally from China she is to share a secret and showed me how to make traditional dumplings. I am amused as she openly laughs at my slow progress with rolling out the little circles of dough with a thick spot in the middle to stop the filling falling out. She made 5 or 7 to every one of mine and found great delight in this, I just rolled my eyes at me being the entertainment knowing full well why she was so good at it. Because in her family, the tradition had been kept alive, passed from one generation to the next, as children joining the family to help. That is the way it should be. Sharing our knowledge, stories and traditions over the table. The dumplings themselves, I am told, are circle to symbolize the family circle, its members coming together to make food and share with each other.
We laugh, share stories and cook. Strangers but somehow friends feeling a connection through our joint love of food. This little interlude with strangers is as much like tonic as my solitude but I must retreat, with a tray of soup and dumplings I retreat to my room, my books, my imaginings and my words.
As I drive home again I am struck with the beauty of this amazing country, I promise myself to travel more. Being away has been good. I decide I shall do it at least once a year. I enjoyed my own company, I feel refreshed, inspired and ready to get back to it. I also miss my family and can’t wait to cook them the plate of dumplings I have made that nestled on the seat behind me. I picture the evening I will pour a glass of wine for my husband and I, to listen to the kids tell me all they have been doing, to share our stories as we share the dumplings.
That night I am not disappointed. I feel refreshed from my time away and sit quiet as I listen to the family around the table. All talking at once, all sharing their thoughts, stories, surely the dinner table is where life is found, tradition formed and I am suddenly aware that the most important conversations of our lives happen right here.