The Waking Bee
by M. L. Longworth
“The waking bee, still drowsy on the wing,
Will sense the opening of another year
And blunder out to seek another spring.”
The poet, novelist, and gardener Vita Sackville-West wrote that in 1926, as part of her anthology of poems, The Land. I love how she has the bee ‘blunder out’; they do do that, don’t they, as they sometimes fly sideways over your patio table and then look like they’re about to crash. I enjoy how she dares to repeat ‘another’, too. It works.
This spring brings changes for our family; we’ve sold our small city house in Aix-en-Provence in exchange for an even smaller country house, south of here, surrounded by the vineyards of AOC Bandol. Call it mid-life crisis if you will, or empty-nesters’ syndrome (our daughter, 20, is studying at UCL in London). My husband and I both wanted to feel more connected to the land (otherwise, we argued, we should just live in Paris); we’re looking forward to seeing the seasons change–really seeing them change–or as Sackville-West wrote: “I sing the cycle of my country’s year.”
We felt that, in town, we were living too often in-doors, which seemed silly in Provence. So gardening books now cover the coffee table as our interests turn outside. I’ve always wanted to visit Sackville-West’s gardens in Kent:
And also the gardens at La Louve in Bonnieux, in the Luberon:
Our garden will, alas, not look like either of these gardens, but it will take us outside. This decision to move took about six months, with lots of back-and-forth hesitations: listing all the things we’ll miss about city life (seeing films in their original language at Aix’s great cinema Mazarin, our friends, Aix’s busy restaurants and cafés) and the things we’ll gain by living in the country (peace, great views, village markets…). But the closest baguette is a two-mile walk.
Have you made this change, from city to country? Or vice versa? If you have some words of wisdom, or advice on moving from city to country, I’d love to hear it. A friend cautioned, “At first, the county will be so quiet, you’ll have to have the radio on all the time.”