I am reading Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucia by Chris Stewart. The cover displays a blue sky over blossoming almond trees, and a close-up of lemons. This gives it a cheerful beauty that makes it a delight to pick up. The book describes how Chris and his wife Ana buy a farm on a hillside near the junction of two rivers in Andalucia in Spain. Previously Chris made a living from music, shearing sheep, and writing among other things. Buying the farm was a commitment to living on the land, and enabled him to pursue a lifestyle supported by productivity – of the land and through his own writing. Soon after deciding to buy the property he describes his dread of the life of the businessman.
We wound down the path through the oranges and almonds and out into the riverbed where we scuffed among the hot rocks and splashed through the river. The sun blazed down on us from a cloudless sky. In euphoric mood I found myself musing on the idea of waiting in the cold drizzle of an early morning railway-station with hundreds of other besuited businessmen, waiting for the daily ride to the treadmill. ‘Whatever comes of this decision, ‘ I thought, ‘it has to be better than this’.
Chris Stewart still lives on his El Valero and he as written three books about the experience so it seems like he made a good decision.
I have my own decisions to make about work, having left my job (in an office) to travel. I don’t think I will be taking up shearing any time soon, and I do find some advantages in being drawn out into the world by a regular job, but I am hopIng to find a better balance between structure and creativity in the future.