MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

My wonderful neighbor Christina has written a guest post about dream vs reality of living in the country. If this doesn't make you laugh, I don't know what will. Just a note: the original version was of course in German but I hope my translation does it and her justice.


Over to you, Christina.


I live in the middle of nowhere. Because I want to.


I love being immersed in nature. I love watching the flowers bloom and grow, seeing the seasons change and soaking up the sun, wind and rain. It's all so much more 'dramatic' in the country than it is in the city. In big cities, you'll often only notice that winter has turned into spring when you see people going all 'al fresco', sitting outside cafés instead of indoors.

And I always used to think it would be lovely and quiet out here in the country. I thought I'd really enjoy the peace and quiet; listening to the birds sing and gentle breezes rustling through the leaves. I thought I'd be able to sit and really soak up that silence.


Pah! I'm afraid that's not quite the case. As soon as the first rays of sunshine start to creep through my blinds in the morning, my neighbors seem to have already unpacked every single garden tool you can purchase at our local hardware store. Why are they always trying to create order? Even in nature?

It's all about mowing the lawn the second it's more than an inch high, blowing leaves out of every corner of your garden, taking screaming chainsaws to annoying trees obstructing the view, shredding branches, power-washing decks, chopping hedges into the neatest of shapes. There's so much to do! And for each of these tasks, there's usually a corresponding device – most likely it's motorized. Because (mostly) boys and toys. And because everything needs to be clean and tidy. They seem to be the two pillars of human civilization.

Where did we get this idea that we're in a constant battle with nature and only garden tools can save us? Do tons of organic waste really need to be shipped to China because we don't have space for it in our own countries? It's highly possible that the Chinese use it to produce good-quality soil, which is then shipped back to us so that we can toss it on our gardens and grow more things to hack at with our machines.

I always find myself wondering how we survived all those thousands of years before the leaf blower was invented. How did people get rid of all their leaves? They must have been walking around on a layer of leaves that was like a mile deep. Because I can only assume there used to be way more trees. And we must have been drowning in all the blossom they produced. We must have had to wade through moss with wild, rampant hedges growing up the sides of our houses and we must have been smothered by grass as tall as trees.

Where did we get this idea that we're in a constant battle with nature and only garden tools can save us? Does tons of organic waste really need to be shipped to China because we don't have space for it in our own countries? It's highly possible that the Chinese use it to produce good-quality soil, which is then shipped back to us so that we can toss it on our gardens and grow more things to hack at with our machines.

Could this ship be transporting lawn cuttings, chopped branches and fallen leaves?

Photo: Fotolia/Ophie

There must be some way you can save yourself all that work and not have to keep turning to modern technology to protect you from nature's 'filth'. You could live in a fortress for example – one that completely shuts out the natural world behind towering concrete walls. Then you'd have no problem keeping the place clean and tidy and you could place big screens everywhere displaying natural scenes to make it feel cozy. You could even play audio of singing birds and rustling leaves. Because obviously, your house will be pretty quiet behind those extremely well-insulated triple-glazed windows. Sadly, you wouldn't be able to use your machines because the second the leaves started to fall on your screens, all you'd need to do is press stop and stream the next video. One displaying a perfect lawn.

As for me, I adore being immersed in nature. I love it when a gust of wind blows a pile of leaves onto my deck. And I like it when my dog traipses them into the house, shaking them out of his fluffy coat, all over the floor. Really, I do!


I can always bring out the vacuum cleaner if I want to keep things tidy indoors.

Christina Jacob

Works as a freelance author and writer. Originally a 'big city' girl, she now lives with her dog and cat in a little cottage by the Upper Bavarian Lakes. Sounds romantic, but her romanticism is pushed to its limits every winter when she has to heat her whole house using only wood.

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