I have been to Europe in June to visit my home country, Czech Republic. What struck me immediately after so may years was how different the countryside was in comparison to Australia.
In Europe, people lived mainly in villages for centuries. Each village was a little world on its own, it had its own church (very important!), a pub and a shop, its own centre, its own gossip and funny characters. The bigger villages had some manufacturing businesses there as well. Most of the villagers lived as farmers. The fields were around the village, but the village houses were clustered together.
Of course, today there are only a few farmers left and people travel out to get work. The farming doesn’t bring as much wealth as it used to, so when driving through these villages one can see that many houses could do with some painting and minor repairs.
But still, the character is there. The peaceful atmosphere, the local farmer who can still sell you the milk from his cows, the sounds of the roosters in the mornings, the fruit laden trees along the winding narrow roads and the occasional tractor with muddy wheels testing your patience.
On this picture you can see that the villages are close together. You can easily walk from one village to the other. There are no gates or “no entry” signs. One can walk freely on the trails between the fields.
Of course, the locals are suspicious towards strangers. It is a small world full of traditions and habits, with its own charm and slow pace.
One of the things that I like is that the tradition to grow your own food is still there. The front yards are often occupied by a potato patch - beside a flowerbed, of course.
You can see a glasshouse sometimes where people speed up their vegetable seedling at the beginning of spring.
A city dweller may find it a waste of time. Don’t we have produce in the supermarkets all year round at affordable prices? Why to cling to this obviously outdated tradition?
Yes, it is a trip into the past. Yes, it is a dying world, being run over by the “global village”. But one thing I know: if you grow your own food, it tastes good, it feels good, there is something satisfying about it. THIS is what I miss in suburban or rural Australia.
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