To think that to escape the risks of “modern life”, including the coronavirus, life in a small village in the mountains or in a rural house is an option, requires listening first to stories of those who did leave and did not return, so as not to call us into question.
Given the tendency to live in the countryside, often in search of well-being, it is inevitable to ask the question: has life in rural environments become over-idealised? Many people leave the city in search of what they have made into a panacea after meeting it on Sundays. In the face of disappointment, they return to the city.
Those who were aware, before leaving, of the good and the bad continue to move forward without losing sight of the fact that, although their quality of life has improved, living in the countryside does not mean spending the day without clothes lying on a hammock. Some of those who live in the countryside combine teleworking with gardening and herding.
Returning to the countryside is not a fashion, nor has it come about suddenly, but rather it is “a constant drip” historically little visible, except in some specific moments when these movements have reached greater impact. The Russian Narotniki, classical anarchism in Italy and Switzerland and the Utopian communities are some of its precedents. There were authors who wrote the books, but there were also people who, inspired by those works, went to the countryside.
It is possible to combine all the work in the countryside with teleworking, there are more and more jobs related to e-commerce or other areas of the Internet that can be done from home, but it is also possible that this ends up degenerating into a new phenomenon known as “rural stress“. Against those who visit the countryside on Sundays and imagine it as a paradisiacal and relaxing place, life there requires great effort.
To think that, as you are your employer and you set your own schedule, you can live in a relaxed way clashes with the fact that agricultural and livestock tasks cannot be postponed. It is indeed wonderful to go to the chicken house to see how the chickens are doing and to take three or four eggs to make an omelette, and then feed them so that they keep laying eggs, but then you have to clean the pen and see if they fight – and the worst thing is that you have to do it every day, yes or no. If you have to have firewood before it rains, you have to cut it off now; if the fruit is ripe, you have to pick it up before it falls on the ground; we are not even talking about what it means to have a cow…
And all this for your own survival, because if you want to market the product to make a profit, it means becoming a professional farmer and, as things stand, it doesn’t seem like a very good idea nowadays.
Living in the countryside can mean such surprising things as having to collect water from a spring, having your landline phone connected via satellite internet because there is no phone line and using solar panels. Every winter you will need several tons of firewood.
In any case, absolute disconnection is not possible. The idealization of life in the countryside comes to create mirages such as the possibility of living outside the system and without money, but that is an absolute lie. In the end, you always need the car, or tools, or materials. Okay, you cut your wood, yes. But who cuts wood without a chainsaw?
And what about the kids?
That’s for another article.