31 Dec 2020

64. Back to nature




Like all young people, my generation insisted on believing we could defy the inevitable. We imagined, for instance, we could opt out of the rat-race and go back to nature to plant potatoes in idyllic villages somewhere. A few managed to make it, perhaps even to the Cotswolds or Brittany. But most went back to a ‘proper job’ in London or Lyon, even Brussels. We had not counted on crude reality, nor foreseen how the world was to change.

Not surprisingly, the dream lives on and even goes from strength to strength. For many, life has become unbearable: our cities are inhuman, our work unrewarding, our food tasteless, our relationships bitter, our future uncertain … Today’s ‘back-to-nature’ people, though, are different, savvier. They know there are no derelict farmhouses to be picked up for coppers. They know the earth is way below their knees and that they must have an income. But they also know that today they have a brilliant chance to make it work.

Hideaways ‘far from the madding crowd’ are no longer the exclusive prerogative of successful writers and painters. The pandemic has shown that many of us really can work from home. Air transport since the 80’s has made the world a lot smaller. Computers and modern travel open up all sorts of opportunities, not only to work where you are but also to make where you are work for you.

El Hierro has outstanding potential for initiatives, modest and ambitious, partly because of what it intrinsically is and partly because most of the footwork has already been done. To begin with, its accessibility. Being one of the Canaries, it is easy to get to from anywhere in Europe. IT communications are far better than in most comparable areas on the mainland. The island itself is beautiful. It is quiet and the air is clean. The roads are good and so are our services, especially medical. As long as you don’t pine for the snow, anyone can find within the confines of the island the climate that best suits them. And, of course, El Hierro has none of those things `back-to-nature’ people don’t like. The island is practically virgin territory, just waiting for ideas.

1 comment:

  1. Giuseppe Sartori2 Jan 2021, 21:57:00

    Buon giorno Mr Harris,
    Auguri di un Nuovo Anno Sereno a El Hierro!!!
    For some months I have been reading your considerations and stories with great pleasure.
    I started doing it in March'20 when here in Italy we were all closed at home.
    It was a way to get out of the cage and dream of a place like El Hierro that I understood to be fascinating.
    Like you I am a lover of Nature. I cultivate the vineyard, the fruit trees, the vegetable garden, making my own wine, my olive oil, my preserves and jams.
    Although I'm not a fan of people in general, I like to entertain good friends by cooking, another of my passions.
    I am also a great lover of tracking, which I practice in our Alps and passionate about the sea, fishing in particular.
    I was sorry when I read that your property was on sale. That time your story was a photo of a sad and bewildered writer.
    But then I thought that it had been written some time before because the story that followed a few days later had the usual panache and attention to detail that fascinated me when I started reading you. I hope that sad state of mind is something you already left behind.
    I could retire in about a year and have started thinking about what to do next.
    This is why your "…, just waiting for ideas" stimulates me a lot.
    If possible I would like to discuss with you about a work project to be carried out in El Hierro; the island I mean not your property which I hope will remain yours as long as you desire.
    Un caro saluto a lei e sua moglie.
    Con ammirazione,

    Giuseppe Sartori
    email: pippo.sartori@libero.it