New Internationalist

Enough!

I’ve been living on this barge for the better part of four months and I reckon the time has now come to stop blogging about it.

The approach of winter with fewer opportunties for bragging - though I’m told the otters should soon come back, after taking their leave from the human holiday season on this part of the river - may have something to do with this. But, mostly, it’s now my home, much like any other, and I must get on with living in it, much like anyone else.

It’s a good sign that I long to return whenever I’m away. It may be a bad sign that the demands of maintenance - I now have a wash basin - are relentless. This may prove expensive, in terms of both money and distraction from more solemn pursuits. Never was pottering more easily done.

This morning I found a fishing rod adrift by the barge, though Bob says the fish taste too muddy to eat.

Soon I shall have to set about digging a garden, so that next year I’ll be able to match the green beans and marrows and eggs I sometimes find waiting for me on my return.

The one clear change I can recognise already is in my outlook. More or less everything I use I have to replenish. This means I notice what I consume, which is near impossible to do in a conventional house, even when paying the bills. I feel more vulnerable to nature, and therefore more respectful of it. I am beginning to find life of all kinds where at first I saw nothing at all.

I don’t move house that often, but whenever I do I’m taken aback by the amount of stuff I’ve accumulated since I last moved. Here that kind of hoarding is simply not possible. Even gifts sometimes have to be tactfully declined because I can’t think what to do with them or where to put them.

Books are a blessed exception. There’s more space for them than I guessed. So I’ll retrieve some of them from store and make cases for them out of the old wood from the barge, which is weathering under the trees.

No doubt there will come a moment when the water pipes are frozen, the generator has broken down, the sleet has been falling for days, I’m stranded by floods and I bury my head in my hands.

But maybe that will also be the day when I fire up the engine and set off around the next bend in the river…

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