Back to the Country

Travelling back from Portland to Chicago I found myself in a melancholy mood. My voice packed away with my makeup. My city face dissolving back into relief. Dragging my bag like a heavy weary dog with leaden feet on a short leash. Bumping at my ankles – shambling along behind me. I loved standing in front of a crowd again, being entertaining, succeeding, hearing the applause and feeling those smiles and nods and the laughter. I realised how much I have missed that world. I loved the applause. Everyone needs applause.


I especially thrilled at walking through a sleepy Sunday morning Portland the sun shining, so much green it hurt my eyes, hearing people singing, walking dogs, eating street food. I love morning cities.


But I also longed to be back in my own safe other world back here on the farm where I belong.


Are we all two people? Changing the props and our costumes, adjusting the score. I realised that working with animals draws me in, into a solitary world of silence and smiles. Gentler smiles. Always listening and watching and smelling.  Air expelled in small audible sighs of satisfaction. Completely unseen.


Hair and colours absolutely unnecessary in a world of animals. Just those smells and sounds. That constant checking for harm or alarm.  With animals we walk gently. Softening any clipped movements into seamless gentle changes.  We are careful not to jar or clash. When an animal slumbers we let her sleep.  When a pig is running we slow down so they slow and do not do themselves harm.  Keeping a clumsy cows environment safe and planned.


But this world of people is so noisy. So loud and colourful. The emotional jostling and and jimmying for the lead. Positioning and watching. This need to be seen and noted. To stand out. To speak to the right people and be animated and interesting and commanding of attention. The loud laughs these people have. The drop in the pit of your stomach when you realise that the Big Fish have no interest in you at all. That terrible cafeteria pause of where will you sit and at what table at dinner because you have no posse and wish you had a pig or dog with you to make you real again.  Your slightly panicked feeling like a huge forehead pimple. Trying to quickly pick up your dropped poise but it is in pieces from the sheer noise of such a gathering.  And no-one notices anyway. Yet the searching gaze that others have, like they have secrets. Some want to take a finger of yours and put it in their book of pockets, put a pick into your brain.  Others as gentle and kind as spring. Patting your scared cat of a face back into place. portland-oregon-042

I fly home passing over rivers and mountains watching the green bleed from the land until once more we fly into the sepia landscape of Illinois. Dormant under us. Does a farmer look up at my plane as I steadily roar  overhead. On course.


As we fly I think of the things I have learned. That the people who run WordPress are young and alive and passionate about where they are and what they are doing. How they volunteer their time to come out and teach us at conferences like these. How they grabbed at my pages of typed out requests and questions about the new Post Page with glee. They love feed back. They want this to work. They encourage our success.  They lean forward to every question and use kindness in their responses.


I think of The range of ages and the variety of people who attended. Some hand in hand. Some carrying bags and laptops. String bags. Canvas bags. Fancy laptop bags. Worn out handbags.  Some watchful like me and some networking and darting about. Some beautifully dressed and others in worn cardigans and comfy jeans. Happy that you are there. The ordinary bloggers who are searching to do better.

How bloggers are forging a new kind of language and new kind of communication. How it is morphing. How much of our blogging now is truthful and real. Not for money or gain. But as the very true expression of the art we all carry in ourselves. How age and looks and weight and health and popularity are all adjusted to a level field in the blogging world. how ultimately many of us are just as happy alone in front of our keyboards.

I thought about the wonder many people felt when they heard about The Fellowship about how you guys support me and each other.  How when I am out doing chores you sometimes even talk amongst yourselves until I come in for my coffee time with you.  How we break every rule.  And how we prove them.  How we really are an unusual and quite incredible gathering of souls. How did we find each other.   How lucky we are to have done so.


I think about my talk and wish I could do it again. Wished I could have done it again on that day.

And do to our daily Good Morning. For, now, it is morning again. Still dark outside but I am Back out on the prairies. It is Below Freezing. But my body clock is  muddled again from the different time zones and my belly aches from unfamiliar (though incredibly good) food. The mix of relief and longing settling back through my digestive tract.


I watched the mountains pass and wondered about my own mountains and goals.  The immediate one being to feed those baby goats and touch and check every single animal on our farm today. Coming home. Bringing you with me.

I met a lady on the plane whose daughter loves pigs so I showed her Timatanga Moana and with delight we began to make plans for her to bring her daughters to the farm for a visit. Isn’t that lovely. Even on the plane I found kindness and kindred spirits.

Soon I will get up and shiver my way into my farming clothes and begin again. This wonderful farming life I have.

I hope you all have a lovely day, thank you for coming along on yet another journey with me.

Love celi

81 Comments on “Back to the Country

  1. I’m not sure how each of us found you, but I’m so glad that we did. Love my morning coffee on the Farmy.

  2. You’ve had both kinds of fun, putting yourself out there, and then the comfort of folding that public, glamorous, performing Celi neatly back into the box under the bed, and bringing out the comfortable flannel Celi, who knows and recognises the sleeping breath of every animal in her care. It’s Jimmy Choos vs comfy shoes! So glad you’re back…

    • Jimmy Choos vs Comfy Shoes – Love it! Good to be home, now all I need is a little sun and some warm so all the animals and I can get outside into it! c

  3. Celi, I’m convinced you are our Pied Piper … on any given day a note piped will be heard by somebody and they are drawn into the Fellowship. Luckily for us the ending is much happier as we all gather on the Farmy with you and your animals 🙂 Portland street art is fabulous unlike our city graffiti which is just down right ugly. So true your observations about being alone in a huge busy melee. Welcome home. Laura

  4. I thought a lot about your talk as I went through my day here. I don’t farm … but I do share my day with four kindred donkey spirits. I remembered when I first heard about ‘blogs’ and I wondered what they were, how to find interesting ones to read, and maybe … how to write one of my own. My first blog was for my students and parents when I was teaching. But my first ‘real’ blog experience was when I brought home a lonely donkey and needed to learn more. THEN I learned just how powerful a network this blogosphere really is. By sharing my steep learning curve with Paco and my growing donkey herd I met others who had donkeys, who rescued donkeys, who trained donkeys, who cared for donkeys … and just like you said, we taught each other. Now I have a network of donkey families that I can turn to for help. We’ve never met face to face – and yet I know their names and share their daily pleasure of life in the slow lane. And that is how I ended up finding the Fellowship. I branched out to see what others were doing in quiet rural spaces on old farms. Some people have the wrong impression about blogging and social media … or maybe just different experiences than the positive and uplifting one that ‘can’ be there. I too relish the opportunity to live a quiet life with simple pleasures and time to tap away at my keyboard reflecting on my journey.

  5. I am so happy I found the farm it us my morning pause with coffee before the hectic day begins in the city. I like knowing that it is there, where it is kind and safe, animals are loved and treated well. Thanks for those snaps of Portland, we had a great vacation there it was nice seeing it again for a moment. Welcome home.

  6. It should be thank you, Celie, for taking us with you! It was mega. But I wouldn’t change my quiet rural life for excitement and applause in a big city for all the tea in China. As I read your post,I could feel the tension relaxing back into lovely clever kind Farmy Celie, and I heaved a sigh of relief that you wouldn’t be hankering too much for city life. I’ve found a new blogger to follow and who.s following me from among your Portland friends, another quilter.

    Don’t overdo it today – you need a bit of rest after all that excitement.
    ViV xoxox

  7. Celi, you are such a star, keeping us all up to speed on a daily basis. I do wish I could be more like you. I don’t have a farmy or others to look after, other than my Pete when he is home and I don’t find the time – guess I must stop with the excuses.
    Beautifully captured shots C, lovely to see Portland through your eyes and so happy for you to be back home on the farmy with your animals.
    Love to you from a beautiful sunny SA.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  8. Isn’t it fun visiting BIG cities? I have not been to the northwest but have been to LA, San Fran, NYC, Boston, Chicago – and LOVE visiting. I think the North End of Boston and NYC are my two favorites. Chicago is very enchanting also – but I love the walk-ability of Boston and NYC. But while I love visiting – it is just that a visit. I feel living in these big mega cities would be just to overwhelming to my senses. And – since I do live in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex you may think that is a strange statement, but you see, I grew up in the country side where the commute to ‘the city’ was 30+ minutes. Close enough to get the benefits, but far enough to no hear it all the time. I think it would be the sounds that would bother me the most.

    Glad you took us with you! Hopefully tomorrow I can post a link to the beautiful tulip and cherry blossom pictures I took at the Dallas Arboretum Saturday. It was a beautiful day to be in the flower gardens and it was good for the heart to know spring is in deed here. Love to you all! Pat

  9. Glad your back. I couldn’t watch your speech, so I will wait for it to come online hopefully. I love cities and I also love the countryside, given the choice where to live I would always prefer country, city’s are great for visiting from time to time. I love your photos on the plane x


  11. Such a heart felt post, as always Celi. The extremes between city life and ‘fitting in’ there, and the country life with the welcoming needs of the animals and family. Also the references to the young people running the conference and how very helpful they were. How wonderful to meet people so willing to help. I noticed that so often while listening to the conference on the web. What a delight that was! So happy you are home! Do listen to what Viv suggests, take it easy today. Your body and time clock and mental systems are readjusting to life on the farmy. You want to jump into Spring…and it IS coming there too….. with lots of energy. Welcome Home!!!!! xo

  12. I think this is one of the most beautiful, soul-connecting posts I’ve read in a long time. Yes, I do think we all have at least two versions of ourselves inside. And until we find the truest place for expression, we make due with whichever version seems best. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with the world C. You make it a far better place to be. Can’t wait to watch your talk. Please do post when it’s available.

  13. I love your words. I love your thoughts, I love your pictures…can I say ‘I love you’ ? not in a silly slushy way, not in a stalker kind of way…but in a Farmy Fellowship kind a way. thank you for giving so much pleasure to so many people

  14. Ask again which is my favorite post.
    I think that I vote “this one!”.
    Soon, your world will be green and the sounds that are Spring’s song will serenade you and applaud your efforts to care for creatures great and small.

  15. One thing the Automattic Techs did teach me was to encourage you to Share posts that you enjoy, to FB or Twitter or Pinterest This is one change we need to embrace. Getting each others work out there onto the platforms. I am going to make sure I do heaps of sharing in future. Plus remember that if you like an image on my pages just take it – no need to ask- and share that too (if only with your bathroom wall) .. It is sunny here this morning! and warming up! Might even get out of my clown suit!.. c

  16. Once again Celia, you show us what a poet you are. Life is your art form. We all do better, I think, by reaching and withdrawing, reaching and withdrawing from various aspects of our life and experience. How nice to have a home to come home to, to center once again, to keep established the love parts of our lives – husband, critters, growing places like gardens and farms. Welcome home!

  17. You amaze me Celi! I am one of the “behind the scenes” followers. I was quite disappointed that attempts to view the streaming of the Portland event were not realized. Please let us know when it is available. Welcome home!

  18. First, congratulations!! Second.. I’m sure there will be more of these speaking engagements where this came from:) We dreamers want the best of all worlds.. nature, downtown streetscapes.. I think because we can find the beautiful in it all. Love that you were able to do this! xx

  19. I am not sure what is happening this morning, but Miss C you have made me cry. Yours is the second blog read so far today, and both follow a theme of past lives and choices, new beginnings and adventures, and many blips along the way to becoming who and what we are both in life and as bloggers/creators/voices. I have been on a blogging break, only reading but not writing for a bit now…searching for something that I thought I might find within myself. I don’t know precisely how much, if anything, I have discovered but it is becoming clear that perhaps I just need to allow the road to take me on a journey and listen to the voices of those who surround me. This wisdom, shared by so many from both far and near is extraordinary.

  20. I don’t know why but i seem to have lost my icon and my post to you has come out as anonymous it should be a drawing of a jack russell

  21. Perfect description of the different feelings of the country and the city. I am challenged by visits to big cities, so much happening so fast, so many people. Challenges are good though, and I am always so glad to get back to the quiet of the farm. Thank you Celi, for this post and for bringing us all together.

  22. So happy that I am enjoying your blog again. I am a neighbor and friend of your co-new goat owner. Originally from downtown Chicago so when I moved out here 30 years ago, to a small farm, I was in shock. Had 5 acres, horses, a cow, birds and many dogs. At first it was a striking change from living in the city and working in the Loop, but I fell in love. Now I live in a very very small town, but with enough property for my husband to grow lots of food and I have a wonderful flow garden. Hope to meet you soon.

      • can’t wait. anxious to check on your new goats and really want to see your space. Will have our friend bring me over one week-end morning so I can find my way there. Directions out here are so informal and I still get lost after 30 years here.

    • Oh my! So a propos of todays Celia’s great post! Brilliant really (both of you, actually). I used to watch this series such a long time ago, it was one of my Dad’s favourite, it was so nice to remember.Thank you

  23. Yeah, you’re back! I can remember being on stage and social and talky talky with people. Now, I’m calm with the animals and family. We get social bursts with our customers when they pick up their beef each week ( or we deliver ) and the day after, I am exhausted! More exhausted than when we have long, physical labor days. My cheeks hurt form giggling too much.

  24. I understand so completely what you mean about being two people, I used to be Spanish Chica and City Slicka Tanya, now I am Up the Mountain and Down by the Sea Tanya – I love all of them, home is where the heart is. Beautiful post today miss c, very gentle and reflective.

  25. Yes, we are all two (or more) people. You’ve captured and expressed it so beautifully today. I tried to retire from teaching and just enjoy life here at the beach (which is the heart of downtown Long Beach)…lasted about 6 months. I so missed the performance aspect of teaching, of drawing the students in, their reactions and questions, nodding and smiling, even occasional applause – and to witness the learning happening! Now I’m back to 2 courses per semester and feel like myself again, though I do appreciate the spring break which is now, and summers off. The teaching pays for my European travels and some little luxuries, so it’s all in balance.

    Your talk was so good! I plan to watch it again when the digital version is available. I don’t think I had realized that you *really* did not know anything about farming when you began or how you manage to be so consistent a blogger, which is very rare.

    Thanks for sharing your life with us.

  26. Welcome home Celie and Congratulations! I was right, you had the audience in the lap of your hand. A day or two of the high life are enough, before returning to the comfort and familiarity of home. I bet the chorus was loud when the animals scented you were back amongst them. Easy for me to say…. try to take it slowly with plenty pf pants pauses today, until you body is back in sync with the sights, sounds and smells of the farm.

  27. Absolutely beautiful to read this morning, Celi. I do think that many of us feel we carry around two people–maybe we all do, but we don’t express the longings to address our dual personalities with the sense of wonder and awe that you have written here. I have no doubt but that there will be other special speaking invitations and the opportunity to nurture talents that aren’t fully expressed on the prairie, yet I think the prairie and farmy life fuels your creativity with a particularly unique spark. Welcome home, and enjoy some time to synthesize the variety of sights, sounds and experiences. We are all quite proud of you. ox

  28. What a great post. It certainly resonated with me. I left rural, highland Scotland for the weekend in order to attend a national writers’ conference in Glasgow . You describe my feelings almost exactly. It was great to attend and be part of a wonderful, positive and inspiring gathering, but, yes, there were moments of shyness, vulnerability and self-doubt too. I was glad I went, but it was good to come home too.

  29. I am heartbroken that I missed it. I set my alarm so I wouldn’t but for some reason it didn’t go off. Is it available to hear it again? I love the way you describe the WordPress people, it gives me great confidence that it was their platform I selected over all the other blogging platforms. I am still in the process of considering to go to self hosted but I recently had to reinvest in a new computer and it’s broken the bank for a bit. I am so glad that your speech went well, I knew it would, you are charismatic, intelligent and lovely to listen to so I’m not at all surprised everyone loved you and applauded! I do hope you can direct me to a link so that I could listen to it.

  30. Glad you’re home safe. I think we adapt to wherever are, so that we’ (hopefully) retain our own comfort. Although it is good to be encouraged beyond our comfort levels sometimes. Aposite for me too as I’m in London for one night, for work. I lived and worked here more almost 20 years ago (eek!) and find the minute I step off the train and head for the tube, I’m in London mode again. But, I love getting back on the train, exhausted with the effort of it all, and then the bus home and a gentle walk back up to the house, with hills, and peace. Back to my place rright now. I love the way you make me think sometimes, and other times just being able to enjoy the descriptions of your day and the animals. And that cafeteria moment… I am still v shy, but am better at hiding it, but I know that feeling well.

  31. It is you, it is you who brings this about. From the Fellowship to a stranger on a plane – it is you who shares the magic and spreads it around!

  32. Superb post; I love Portland and Powells; surprised to see so many kiosk type setups; you are the best, and your blog posting was superb!

  33. Words cannot convey how wonderful it was to witness you do your thing, that other part of you that you magically wove the Farmy, blogger part into, and succeed. It was, you were, sensational.
    Your words today strike a cord, the balancing act between two aspects of self, in two places. Many people now assume I’m from the city, and I am comfortable here knowing the ropes and the right things to do and say -less is more. I walk the city streets self contained knowing one day I’ll step off my own stage, be gone, back only as a visitor, much as you express. As my country roots are true, surprising even myself when I step out as I do regularly, instinctively into the country ways of smiles, eye contact, waves, hellos, more time and space, slower pace.

  34. Your post has made me very emotional. I’m sitting here weeping thinking about you. Oh how I wish I had been there with you. I would have grabbed you to sit down in that cafe .. No joy in dining alone. I too wonder if we are two people I feel much like you. I love my farm and life here it is safe and so rewarding. Celi, you always have such wonderful things to say about people and you see so much with your eyes wide open. Thank you so much for your honesty and for sharing so much from within! Hugs

  35. This post really found a reflective piece inside me and is bouncing around quite nicely now. Thank you.

  36. I missed your talk, the times were all wrong for NZ 😦 I cant wait until the recording comes out. And I am GLAD you are back with your animals. It was your sensitivity to the creatures in your care that drew me in, animals are so important especially when you live miles from other people and do not see another living soul for days and days.
    🙂 I know “Mad Cat Woman”, I confess, but I like my birds too… not always a good combination – cats and people like birds for different reasons.

  37. So glad you had this opportunity , and you were really a very good presenter.You shined and we could hear people laughing with your portraits of the animals and oohing and ahhing at the photos.Followed it livestream from sunny Portugal and was so glad to hear your real voice – newzealand accent and all.Couldn t watch the later panel you were in, my connection kept falling but will look forward to it when and if it becomes available later.You are great and we are all very proud of you.Isabel

  38. Ups!meant to tell you in previous comment that I am one of your shy/silent readers and have been so for the last 3 months.Best morning injection of energy, inspiring stories and beautiful pictures I ever found.Thank you for all your work and sharing it so beautifully with us.Isabel

  39. I do love an occasional trip to the city because the experience alone is just amazing. I reflect on many of my life’s trips, but I also remember how good it felt to be home at the return. I often throw off my shoes and just plant my feet on the home place ground, feeling the vibration of my roots. I know it is where I belong… but oh, that gypsy in all of us loves to get out and ramble about a bit. I loved the city photos… and your musings gave us all a little to ponder about our observations of people and places and what it all might mean. That’s something I love about you… you manage to say very eloquently what we all might have thought or wondered, but never say out loud.

  40. OH, Ci, your wandering thoughts are ….now what which word?…so collected memory /philosophical/ astute/ wandering familiar paths. “My voice packed away with my makeup.” Felt that way after so many conferences and meetings. I’m glad you got to walk around a little bit.
    Farms may be experienced and appreciated best by the very young who are enchanted with all to explore and the older who welcome the quiet sounds and it’s own sort of ordering. In between people are mesmerized by other people – and those stages of performance and applause.
    This is a special coterie and you the magnet that draws all to one place while so far apart.

  41. Oh Celi Gunther, now you have me in [happy] tears again . . . perhaps mostly because today you have enunciated SO clearly why SO many people with SO much daily doings in their ‘real’ lives right around the world never fail to drop in for the cuppa! Many now with the added picture/sound besides the writing. Methinks this Portland conference has added so much depth and form and understanding to the Fellowship!! I am a typical Gemini [whatever that means!]. I have mostly been a city gal! I looked at your Portland photos [have been there half a dozen times never to be midtown:) !] and there was but little attraction . . . . . live semi-rurally now: that will do just fine!!!! [smiling about readers commenting on your accent – would they not have fun coming to both Australia and NZ and find out we ALL talk like that 🙂 !]

  42. C. Again you expressed so eloquently my thoughts exactly yesterday after meeting you, finally in person. Knowing you…the Farmy C. I could sense that weariness about the the big city C. I believe I guess because I felt somewhat the same. Although I did not have to meet all those new people, give a speech and have that terrifying cafeteria experience that you did, it was still sensory overload for me after 2 days in Portland! You truly must have been exhausted! As we sat deflating, watching the ocean waves yesterday after our visit, I somehow knew how you were feeling traveling back to your beloved and safe Farmy!
    Until we meet again…thank-you for making the world a better place and by founding the Fellowship!
    I can’t wait to hear your talk…I know you were brillant! xo

  43. I found you on a random search for a recipe and never looked back. I read your posts every chance I get! (and if I miss a few days, then I scrolly scrolly back to find them all to catch up!) I am so happy your conference was such a success. Congrats!

  44. When I read your post this morning I couldn’t comment because you have this ability to leave me speechless and so full of emotions that I have no words just feelings. You say things that I feel deep inside me over and over in your posts. Thank you C.
    P.Sl. I shared you on Twitter and Google+ but can’t find your Facebook Share 😁

  45. The words are inspiring. The truth. The honesty.. The utter joy of sharing ones life. A good way to start my day Miss C.

      • I am feeling calm and relaxed today cousin C. This part of the journey will be over in a couple of hours. It is a gorgeous spring morning here on the farm. Another reason to smile and be happy. XX Virginia

  46. DEFINITELY everyone needs applause.

    I was in conference / über-social mode last weekend myself. The other half of myself, that is. Charming them all, hugging old friends, laughing loudly, making the rounds, absorbing inspiration, being witty… I was performative waller / semi-retired academic rather than solo-toiling, slightly antisocial waller. (I was clean and fancy waller rather than dirty Carhartt waller.) I know what you mean. Two selves. Warm recognition from a crowd washing over you is a beautiful thing…

    And then, if you’re me, the introvert has to return to a cave and hide for a brief time after expending so much energy with All of the People!

  47. You captured the essence of downtown Portland better than a native. Wonderful photography. I do envy your farm life with all the animals. Each of us has different needs at different times. I live in a small suburb outside of Portland so I have the best of both worlds in some respects. I could have listened to you for hours but I’ll settle for reading your blog and living vicariously with your wonderful animals. Thank you for coming all the way out here to share your wonder.

  48. What a gift you have to get up in front of others and speak! I dread it. It’s interesting the emotions that get churned up when we get a taste of a former life. I really loved the shots of the snowy mountains out the airplane windows. Great shadows and colors!

  49. Thanks for taking us along, but I, too, am glad to be heading back to the farmy.

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