Maria picked ‘Rock’ for this week’s word, and shared a lovely idea she had involving rocks and stones and symbolism of key concepts.
I was thinking about all the meanings of ‘rock’ and also the fundamentals of my life. I have also, as I described in last week’s weekword post, been very conscious of the role of my home recently. And that all finally coalesced for me. Remember the song, ‘The wise man built his house upon the rock’? It’s based on the parable, of course, and is about the importance of faith, but it actually works on a literal level for me.
As I mentioned last week, people have lived and farmed here since at least the twelfth century, and our house in its current form is very old. The ceiling beams have notches in from where they were used in earlier versions of the house, and our fireplaces (which are big enough to stand upright in) have spaces where the old bread ovens and coppers used to be. And I love the feeling of history, of continuity. I love feeling the presence of those who came before, of knowing that other families have gathered at our hearth, other children have grow up here (in fact, someone told me this week that his grandfather was born in our house, which gave me a lovely feeling!), that the daily rituals of meeting and parting, joy and grief, celebration, laughter, arguing and making up, have all been taking place here for years and years. I sometimes feel the presence of my foremothers as I do the domestic stuff: the housework, feeding the hens, preserving, winding yarn for knitting. Often, if I’m honest, I suspect they’re muttering that I don’t know I’m born, with my washing machine and my dishwasher… There are real joys to living in an old house, and my house and home are central to my life – I don’t just live here, I work from home too, so it really does feel like my world – and all because, centuries ago, someone came along, saw the fertile land by the river, realised that it was on a flood plain, walked uphill a bit until he got to the big rock perched out of the danger of all floods, and thought, ‘Here we are, here’s where I’m living!’. And put a house there. Which was very sensible. After all, centuries later, we’re still here.
We’re currently trying to put in a new boiler system (we’re not on the main gas network, so we burn wood and coal) and this is a bit of a headache. Current regulations aren’t really geared up for this twelfth-century-inspired-by-the-parables thinking. They demand cavity wall insulation, damp proofing and all sorts – but when you live in a house built of timber, horsehair and lime, which has no wall cavities, let alone insulation, this can be tricky. Our house has no foundations. It is built directly onto the rock. It has no damp proof course (apart from in the kitchen). The cellar and the old dairy have earth and flag floors which get damp when it rains. We have to wear lots of jumpers in winter. Like it or not, we have chosen to live on the rock. And apart from when we have to deal with the twenty-first century, we like it very much.
Go to Maria’s blog to see who else has played this week.