Our greatest nemesis so far is a cat. This one doesn't catch any mice, just digs out stuff from the compost pile and vandalizes the garden. Every night the cat crosses the direct-seeded lettuce patch in the same place, wiping out the rows. Sometimes it will have planted its paws deep into the soil as if admiring its footprint or it rolls in it, I suppose because it is the darkest and warmest patch of land around. We are the kind of people who might leave a saucer of milk out for cats and little people, but if this continues, it's fencing and BB guns.
One secondary reason for moving away from the city was to get some creative synergy. Being, originally, a spoiled American used to detached homes, I have always been uneasy about living in a cube with other people on the other side of the walls, floors and ceilings, even if they are very quiet. (I don't believe you can dream other people's dreams, but occasionally there must be interference.)
The band Traffic were among the modern-era pioneers of the practice of moving away from it all to make music in 1967, though Dylan and the Band were woodshedding at Big Pink in upstate NY the same year; naturally there are a near infinite number of writers in cabins, such as Annie Dillard from my home state. I'm marvelling at where they get their energy. Sure, some of the famous settings are more suburban than we like to think (even Thoreau's Walden was far from wilderness back then) but it's still a different life.
Even in a crumbly city of old buildings like Tallinn, it seems like greenery is constantly eroding the edges and overgrowing the old limestone. It takes a lot of energy to keep a place in the countryside feeling and looking civilized -- the main example here being keeping the herbage at bay in the nearly 24-hour vegetative growth cycle of the summer days.
So far I have been barely able to put together a blog post. My old guitar stands in the corner practically untouched. It reminds me of how I always bring books on backpacking trips but never end up reading as much as I would like.
Still, I wouldn't trade this life for anything. Just ringing the scythe against the grass can be relaxing.
I went into the big midsummer holiday reluctantly. One slightly silly reason is that it would mean a temporary drop in the quality of meals, to obligatory grilled meat and tomatoes and cucumbers. But mainly, it's in the middle of the work week, and we still haven't completed any big projects. In a country where it is very hard to get a straight answer from locals on anything, we have not got a straight answer on the house/cabin and what should be done first. One blustery guy who came over even contradicted Mingus and said we should start with the roof and chimney, which sounds insane.
St. John's Day just seems like a day of too many fires. I like fires, but we had the sauna, the wood barbecue grill, the stove inside the house and a bonfire all going yesterday. The holiday is connected to the ancient calendar but like Christmas, it has become displaced from the solstice by a few days and arguably re-dedicated to power and meat worship.
There's nothing to harvest yet for us except for hay and a couple radish leaves, hardly cause for celebration, and the significance of a victory in the War of Independence, while no doubt moving, seems remote, as does the opening of the huge monument in Tallinn.
Every day the side of one barn probably tilts a micron more. Though we bought the property having written these off as usable structures, I'd like to get a sense of closure, but it has been hard to get answers, let alone workmen. And yet the unemployment rate is the highest in the country here, around 15%.
But it's important to approach these things one day at a time, one step at a time. I did empty the outhouse, which I won't go into, but it necessitated a swim in the River Mädajõgi afterward, which turned out to be incredibly pleasant -- once you get past the clumps of marsh grass there's a deep channel with a clay bottom, and transparent, brown water -- a pristine bog, really. No, I did not wash myself in the river.