The Slow Food Road Trip had some health issues from the get-go.
I had a hard time leaving family to hit the road again. I’d been away a year; I missed them and they seemed to miss me too. I had a garden insisting to be planted in Ottawa; it felt unusually urgent my son have kale. It seemed crucial I see the dentist. I hate the dentist.
Still, I set my sights on a June 1st start date to begin my Ontario adventure through farm country.
Then I got an email about a house for sale in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia; perched on a cliff beside the ocean, next to the Buddhist Abbey. I’ve always dreamed of living in Cape Breton, particularly near the Abbey. Every bell and whistle in my body rang, demanding I act immediately. Having a fully packed van, I was ready to leave the next morning.
With only a couple of weeks before the beginning of the slow food road trip, I set off for the highlands of Nova Scotia with the urgency of an arrow from a bow. Never had I felt so certain about a house being “the one.”
Weirdly; I got there, and it wasn’t. I was, however, now in the general area I needed to be for destiny to locate me. Sometimes the Universe takes me on side trips.
I promptly experienced a quick succession of unexplainable “coincidences” including meeting a real estate agent who was a member of the Abbey and who invited me to a sitting meditation with others from that community. As it turns out, proximity to the Abbey wasn’t all that important, as the group met in other locations.
I soon found myself on the most beautiful piece of farmland I could have imagined, knowing I belonged there. In some sort of reflex, lets call it a 60-acre cosmic sneeze, I voiced my intention to be it’s caretaker. Before I could get a hankie to my nose, the offer was accepted with conditions, and I was moving to Nova Scotia.
I returned to Ontario and attempted to refocus on the Slow Food Road Trip, which seemed the perfect thing to do while waiting for the land-deal to unfold. Something to keep my mind off the waiting; something to do in the “mean time.” And it was mean, alright. It should have been a hoot, but I mostly wanted to holler.
Within three days my pants were too tight from the most relentless overeating binge I’d experienced in 20 years. I had a perpetual sugar hangover from all the maple syrup I consumed. Writing was agonizing. My academic brain ambushed all my attempts at simple story-telling.
I found myself irritated with the state of our food systems and unable to think my way to a solution. It was challenging to find local food in June. I was restless and lonely and wanted to be with my family.
Unable to find peace after a week, and still in a destiny-daze from my recent decision to buy land and move to a new province, I went back to Ottawa to recentre with family and friends. Then I packed up the van with everything I needed for my new life, and headed for Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.
Without publicizing it’s death, I laid the Slow Food Road Trip to rest in a private and unceremonious ceremony.
It was hard to admit I’d abandoned my beloved project without good reason. Was being preoccupied a good enough reason? Had I really just bought a 60 acres piece of farmland? Had I really invited a church into my life? What the heck was all this about?
The reason, I’m happy to report, has since been made clear. The universe simply decided I wasn’t moving fast enough.
My entire life I’ve been a thinker.
Think think think. Most of the work of my life has happened from my neck up. The most physical thing I did in most of my career was nod my head. I’ve always felt more comfortable learning than doing. I’ve cared about the earth, nature, sustainable living and local food for as long as I can remember. I’ve always felt intensely nurtured by nature. Connected.
When I felt discouraged or disconnected, I’d buy another book, or watch another inspirational video about things other people did in the areas I was interested in. I think I hoped if I just learned enough, I could somehow be a part of helping. Part of the change this beautiful planet is pleading for. This last month has been about crashing through my place as an observer and a thinker.
It’s just not ok for me to observe anymore. I understand enough.
I don’t need more “expertise.”
I’m 52. If I don’t live a life that matches my values now, when will I ? That’s the gift of 52. The knowledge that “too late” can turn into a real thing in the blink of an eye.
And I’m not alone anymore. Since my decision to buy the land, other like-minded souls are gathering with me to dream and do.
Since the huge shift, I’ve also entered into a second path of stewardship with two friends and we are in the process of purchasing an old church (1888) just up the road from the farm. As crazy as this seems, I sent a text to a friend that said “Do you want to go half on a church” and she said “Yes!” A third friend joined in. We are falling into our respective roles and stirring up a lot of energy. They, too, feel an inexplicable urge to act.
We dream of creating a local food hub of some sort, a kind of education centre for sustainable development, farming and communal housing; a place of celebration and shared community. It’s not clear yet what form it will take, but it is connected to the farm, and will be a shared endeavour. We are in regular conversation with the local church preservation society to better understand their vision so we can continue their work in addition to living our dreams. The church will remain open to the public as a place of meditation, reflection and contemplation for people of all faiths. A new kind of church.
I’ve been hesitant to write this post. It was embarrassing, at first, that I didn’t complete my planned project.
But today I realized that while I had the modest goal of observing and reflecting on local food, the universe said that wasn’t enough, and insisted it was time for me to live it. To create it. To act. Decisively and without delay.
“No slow food for you!” said The Universe. “Enough thinking! It’s time to act! Chop chop!!”
Remember, I had a card reading done in Sedona? The reader said I would need to make a decision about where I was going to be geographically, and she specifically said “You already know enough. Share what you know.” Now I get it.
Today I’m sharing a video I created six years ago., when I planted a small garden in the city and ate local food for almost a full year. I had dreams then, about a world where we had a connection and access to real food.
That was six years ago and while dream remains, my actions are getting louder.
Today I’m going to try to change the world.