Tangcu was a constant for us all, our last connection to a simpler time. His loss has unsettled things; thrown up questions, especially around the land – what to do with it, who will take it on, and as you rightly said, “who’s it for?”
This is both an apology and an explanation, some words and reason that escaped me in the heat of the moment.
Have I been “cowardly”, “selfish”, and “complicit”? Those are poisoned darts my love, which will fester for a while yet while I search for answers.
The reason I got so angry with your suggestion, to cover the far pasture with temporary shelters (or even hand it over altogether), is that I am so aware of all it took to get to where we are now. I feel it – like pricks of ink that scratch the skin – this land, those hard years, have left me marked. Let me try and explain.
Your father and I took on the farm back in 2020. Back then, there were some hot dry summers and wet winters for sure, but everything still felt ‘normal’. Life ticked along – the valley as beautiful as ever, full of life and productivity. It was hard to imagine any emergency. The understanding that a fundamental change was already set in, that we had no choice but to move with it, was a slow creep. For me at least.
You and Dylan were always our priority. While you scurried around my skirt, unsure of our new home, your father and I desperately tried to get to grips with the farm, from the day-to-day to the bottom line, which quickly narrowed to a tightrope.
We did what had been done before, what we knew, focusing on our little corner, to make it work for us, for you. When things took a turn in the mid-20s, we could barely afford to keep the lights on, to buy feed or food. Just like the government, we tightened our belts and narrowed our focus even further. Our resolve sharpened; we were ruthless; we did what was needed to care for our own, to tend our patch.
Of course, like everyone else, we look back at the end of the 20s now with shame. But there are only so many strains a family can endure at once. Our instinct then was to hunker down, take what we could from less and less available – blinkered, building barriers to protect what we cared for dearly but never really dealing with the problem. What seems clear as day now – the mistakes made, opportunities missed- at the time, living it, you must understand, was anything but. It has been a hard truth, hard-won.
Now of course, since we turned things round in the years that followed, saw our neighbours and the land as allies once more, we’ve become a community looking out as well as in. You embody this my love and I could not be prouder: helping those less fortunate find sanctuary here, and constantly asking (and shouting!) for what is fair and just. I know it isn’t easy; you must be weary with the struggle. But be proud my dear too, of yourself, of our community, its intentions and its actions, the best of us that’s endured and drives us forward.
My own contributions over the last decade might seem quiet and quaint, only stretching over the hill and into town, but in some ways my priorities are just the same as they always were – to nurture and protect what we have. Now though, we’re not alone, we have help and guidance to grow and connect, constantly, bigger, better, more joined up. Our regen farming and local deliveries might not seem that radical to you, nor my weekly ‘gossip’ with the community energy group, but it is what feels manageable to me. All I know is that compared to those darker days, the missteps we took, I tell you, it feels nothing short of miraculous!
The fight in us is forged by the challenges of our youth; my response was to nurture and protect, whereas yours is to reach out and connect. There is space and need for both. I hope you can learn to have pride in what we have here, our green resilient home, a community renewed – to see it not only as a privilege inherited but also the result of many hands over many years. In return, I will do my best to look out and beyond, to realise that ours is a blessing to be shared.
So, was I “selfish” and “complicit”? I guess so, but just as much as anyone else was at the time. Was I “cowardly”? I don’t think so, no. I did what I thought I could and should, perhaps even bravely, it was just misdirected, misguided. And for that, of course, I will always carry regret.
I hope at least you can understand me a little better now my love. So, let’s talk again, and I will try better to listen and be open to change. After all, change is one of the only true constants we now have. Between us though, I am sure we can navigate it.
With all my heart,
Your proud and stubborn mother