When I first met Peter he told me a story that actually made me fall in love with him. It was about a man who was a Buddhist. He goes to a market and is tempted into buying a chicken with the intention of eating it. But first he has to kill it. He hides behind a hedge to wring the chicken’s neck but someone walks past and sees him. The story continues with the man trying to find places to kill the chicken and always being discovered, until he finds a cellar. He locks the door, there’s no window and no-one can see him. As he is about to wring the chicken’s neck he realises that the CHICKEN SEES and he cannot bring himself to go against his Buddhist values. Well yes indeed, the chicken does see. So for the past 34 years, which is as long as Peter and I have been together, every time I do or think of something that goes against my moral code I remember that the CHICKEN SEES. It may seem a bit odd that my moral compass is a chicken but it works for me.
In the country, I’m told, it is very important to get on with your neighbours. In fact it’s quite a good idea to get on with them in the city as well and I have never had any problems with my neighbours, ever, except when I moved to the country! Well so much for country advice. Country advice drives me insane. It’s as if there’s a different code of conduct here, which is crap. When country people visit the big city, do we city folk tell them how to behave? I don’t think so. When we city folk (derogatively known as townies) move to the country however, we are constantly told (by some people) “that’s not the way we do it in the country”.
That said, one of the things I love about living in the country is how friendly everyone is. I’ve joined an aqua aerobics class at Fordoun (http://www.fordoun.com/). Our instructress is a lovely woman called Julie and the class is made up of mostly over 50-year-old women. After attending a couple of classes, I was invited to join the group for coffee and cheesecake over the road at Blueberry Hill because it was Julie’s birthday. Since then I have been greeted by name by everyone when I arrive at the class and I’ve had to make bloody sure I remember theirs.
On a Friday night our local butchery, Linga Lapa, opens for dinner (http://www.lingalapa.co.za/). Ian, the owner, is a fantastic host. We usually settle in at the bar first for a pint or two of a locally brewed beer, my tipple being the pie-eyed possum pilsener. Ian is always on hand to introduce us to other locals at the pub and often we land up chatting to some of our other neighbours, as well as complete strangers, before tucking into our steak / lamb chops, chips and salad in front of a roaring fire. This is bliss. And it beats all the 5 star restaurants I’ve ever eaten in (okay Kiera, except for Spice!). I know you can’t generalise, there are people who will challenge the chicken and others who warm the cockles of your heart, but for the first time in a long time I have a sense of belonging here. It’s got a lot to do with my love of the land but also the feeling that I’m starting to be known here and I know that it’s going to be good.