Thursday, February 09, 2017

Paddling furiously

Here's the truth, I may have grown up in the country, I may have spent my childhood on a farm, feeding milk to baby lambs and helping move chickens in sacks in the middle of the night, but I have been a city girl for the last thirty years. And as romantic as the wilds of Laurel Canyon are, with our coyotes and deer and skunks, and even raising chickens and growing tomatoes, it's not the same as rural living. I have to admit to waking up at 4am and googling "breakfast" because I was dreaming of DuPar's on Ventura, and its wildly over-challenging stacks of pancakes and bad syrup, delicious diner bacon and endless cups of weak coffee.

My fire-making skills are terrible. I had to call my mother to describe to me in details the shape the paper and kindling and logs make. "Which way does the paper face?" And in between two conference calls in the early evening I drove to the nearest petrol station on the A41 and bought a bag of kiln-dried kindling because my wood in the shed (delivered by a man in a truck last week, extra money for stacking, madam) seems damp. That did the trick. My fire, both last night and this morning, is robust. Charlie is an excellent fire-maker. He would do well as a cave man, minus the dragging me by the hair bit because I have a sensitive scalp. I often find him in the woodshed in his beautiful navy blue Shoreditch beanie, with the cricket on the radio, smashing poor unsuspecting pieces of wood rhythmically with his axe. He is tall and elegant and has a chameleon-like aspect to him, always looking perfect, and chic, wherever he is. He loves his axe, secretly, I suspect. I catch him enjoying it. It's lovely.

At twenty paces, my father could spot a "townie." He was rather suspect of people that didn't understand country life. The kind of people that left gates open and the wrappings of their prawn mayonnaise sandwiches in the hedge. Oddly, however, he would be as sophisticated as the next city dweller when he went to London in his handmade suits and bespoke shoes.  But there were two worlds. Once again, I seem to be straddling both.

I wonder whether there is a weird thing that happens when you are a hybrid, that you don't actually fit in wherever you are. I wasn't an American in America. I'm not a Brit in Britain. I wasn't a city dweller in the city and now, I'm struggling to be a countrywoman in the country. Perhaps that's okay. Perhaps paddling one's own canoe is the way to go. I will paddling furiously.

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