26 June 2014


Last week we were camping with a group of families who come together every year to celebrate midsummer, we have joined them for the last three years.  Each time I come home and ponder over this wonderful community that I immerse myself in for a few days each year.

Whenever I watch or read about communities or tribes who live simple lives with lots of other families, sharing the tasks required to raise their families and sustain their lives I wish I had been born into their lives.  I cannot fathom why my society feels that this way of life is somehow backward, primitive and worthy of the label second or third world.  Looking at this way of life from our own is to do so through the wrong kind of eyes.

We have water on tap, we don't have to walk for an hour to fetch it but to think that this is arduous and time consuming is to misunderstand a completely different way of life.  This time gives those that walk to fetch it a chance to take a break from what ever else they have been doing, they can talk and chat as they walk, putting to bed their troubles and worries, sharing ideas, perhaps noticing sources of food if they live a hunter and gather way of life.  The water tap when camping was a long walk away my storage container small I had to make the trip often but it never seemed a chore.  We are slaves to time, something I have written about before.  But if you don't live by your clock, but by the sun does it matter how long something takes?  How wonderful to not be ruled by time or the clock.  Whilst I was camping I rarely looked at my watch.  I  didn't need to know what the time was, we ate when we were hungry and went to bed when we were tired.

But the most significant and wonderful aspect of the camping was the community.  We came together to celebrate the midsummer and we shared.  We shared food coming together for some of the meals, we shared crafts and most importantly we shared the care of our children.  Without ever having to discuss it the children always had a adult nearby either at the tents or at the beach (where we all felt it appropriate for an adult to be if the children were there).  We weren't watching over them like a hawk but were there in the background keeping an eye out and able to help out if there was a problem or a hurt.  Most of the time I had no idea where my children were but as I knew that they would always be with someone (another 'rule' we had, don't go off alone). I never worried about them and I always knew that if I had to go off for water, washing up or whatever, that there would be someone else to care for them in my absence should they return to find me gone.  The way we live our lives is so artificial.  As isolated family units with the parents responsible for all the childcare, usually the mother for most of the day.  This is incredibly hard work.  The village I live in is a link back to the past in our own society with extended families remaining in the village and all of the individual families taking responsibility for each others children.  This is not without its own local pitfalls but as a premise it seems far better than the way most of us find ourselves living.  The community doesn't need to be based on family, for me I would want to be part of a community of like minded individuals whose vision of the community values are similar to my own.  I had a taste of that last week and boy would I love it to continue as I return to the madness of clock watching and my isolated family unit.

What about you?  Have you experienced community living?  Are you part of a community or want to be or would it be your worst nightmare?


  1. Lovely reflections. I think we are so lucky living as we do in the 21st century as we are able to take what we want from the past and to also to enjoy the benefits of the present. It's easy for me to say as I don't have to go to work and can separate myself more easily from the present day living my life as I choose and in summer the life you talk of sounds wonderful (though I am not sure about camping and need a proper bed at night!) but I wonder how it would be to live like that without some of the modern trappings such as washing machine (for me) and access to sufficient food, showers or baths with water on tap indoors in the depths of a cold winter? I think the answer is to take from your experience what you enjoyed and find useful and to bring it as far as possible into your modern-day life. Maybe you can do some of the community stuff with those friends without needing to go away somewhere different, you could share other things and although the children may not have the same freedom they could perhaps go to a friends to be cared for by that friend whilst you did other things. I guess the trick is not to be drawn into the present day things you don't care for but to make of life what you will living in the now the way you wish. Sorry I am rambling here!

  2. I love those days when you forget about watching the clock. Something wonderful happens when we get lost in the moment!

  3. We live in a small village (that has no shops - so it's a strange kind of village) and as far as the eye can see we are surrounded by my husbands family/extended, so my 'community' tends to comprise of them. My boys are in school with their cousins (which they think is great) and at weekends they all - plus school mates - meet up (mostly in my garden)! My husband jokes that they'll never get up to any mischief in the village as everyone knows them (just recently got a call from an aunty to tell me the boys had just gotten told off by her as they were trying to 'free' her husbands meat rabbits from their cages!!). Before having the kids I found all this family a bit overwhelming but now I find it quite reassuring. Our village does organize lots of get togethers but I don't really think a lot of us have much in common other than where we live. I've recently joined a two groups that have similar values as my own but it's early days and I don't really feel part of them yet...maybe that's just my personality?
    I do really like the idea of community and your midsummer camping experience sounds wonderful.

  4. I think it's a shame that we've lost our community spirit, many people don't even know their neighbours, never mind pass the time of day with them or look out for them if they've got a problem. Even when I grew up in the 70's, neighbours would look out for all the children in the street, not so these days. People are so busy in their own little worlds these days and everyone is in such a rush. It would be nice to go back to the days when people had more time for each other.

  5. What a wonderful experience you get to share every year. I love the idea of less is more and no clocks and community. I hope you find a way to continue on in your day to day.

  6. I agree we are not meant to live in isolation in our little boxes! So pleased that the sun shone on your get together. I must admit I wish I could let Benedict wander free, but the unpredictability of the diabetes makes it very difficult at the moment and we also spend a lot of time clock watching as a result!!

    Smallest looked lovely in her outfit, has she asked you to make an outfit for her? I am currently in the planning of stage of Sara's wedding dress, *gulp*

    I cannot remember if I left you message, but here it is again, to say thank you for the lovely bag patterns, they are much appreciated!

    Hope you have a lovely weekend

    San x

  7. Firstly, there has to be some way that I can follow you because I LOVE your writing! I love this post and wished ever so often that I could go "Off-grid". In so many ways, our civilizations have alienated us from our humanness...I love that the indigenous Red Indians have no swear words in their vocabulary, some African tribes have the least recorded crimes in the whole world. I know that rural Indian villagers do not face behavioural trouble in their children's early years because of the phusical proximity they share with their parents! We've lost so much, yes we've gained a lot too...but at a price! I love the idea of community...and I suppose a lot of us ache for that, else a whole horde of magazines wouldn't be making the money they do (Kinfolk, Cereal, Gather and countless others..) We're on the same page, Sustainable Mum! x

    1. Aw, thank you! You are right about losing so much but gaining to, I am not sure I am in tune with gains which is perhaps why I feel out of step :)

      I would love you to join me there is a few links at the top of the page on the right hand side to a few ways for you to follow me......

  8. Although not quite the same as where you live, our small town is the best place I've lived for community. Our neighbours brought us tea and biscuits when we moved in and we had a long chat. I now have a group of friends here with children and we all help each other out. It makes day to day life much easier. Sadly, I see so much apathy towards others in the uk in general though. Your camping experience sounds like the mediterranean approach to life.


  9. I think we home educators generally experience more in the way of community than most. And I'm mighty glad I don't need to fetch my own water on a daily basis!

  10. Lovely post. What a wonderful way to celebrate Midsummer. I too have been reflecting on clock watching and time keeping and also on community, lately. I have just finished in my job (as you know) and the children have just finished preschool for the Summer. Suddenly we have all of this unscheduled time before us for the first time in.... actually, for so long I can't pinpoint it!

    It's such a liberating feeling, but hard to adjust to, as time-keeping is so ingrained in me, but I'm slowly, slowing down and trying to be calmer in my everyday.

    The community aspect is interesting too. I live very close to my extended family and am quite friendly with some of my neighbours. Yet, we rarely have anyone to babysit for us from my family and my neighbours and I haven't really broached that level of friendship yet. That, to me, is the BIG one. Yes, we share food and belongings, but the most important 'village' is much more difficult to establish, it seems.

  11. That sounds like a lovely celebration - idyllic.


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