Summer cottage and the art of idleness

Typical Finnish summer place is a small lakeside cottage and it will necessarily include a sauna, silence and closeness to the nature. The closeness to nature is a great thing but it has its own requirements, too. On our cabin there are no amenities, so all the practical work take up a lot of time. It sometimes feels like spending time at the cottage is an ongoing effort. Carrying the water, chopping the wood, cooking outdoor and sauna heating are everyday chores. At some point you should have time to take easy and relax. I’m trying now to make a list of things that will help you to achieve the status of idleness.

Hang hammocks and put lounge chairs at suitable locations and use them at every opportunity.
Light the fire. Sitting and staring into the fire is mankind’s ancient way to make meditation.
Pick up some book and take a rowing boat in the middle of the lake. Sound of the wave ripple calms the mind and gets ideas to flow.

Go for a walk in the woods. The American philosopher Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) recommends walking, aimless wandering in the wild. Walking is the order of the day and adventure, says Thoreau in his essay “Walking”. He walked daily for about four hours “strolling around through the woods and over the hills and fields completely free from worldly commitments”. Thoreau wanted to specifically go out of the way and path. In his essay he praises wild and free nature.

Go to the pier, lie down and watch the sky. Do you see any clouds in the sky? What shape are they? Will they change shape when they move? Is there a crocodile chasing sheep in the sky and on the other side there might be a yawning cat? If watching the clouds begins to seem as an interesting hobby, you’ve gotten rid of the requirement of performance. Now you can simply enjoy just being, and on the idle summer days to the fullest.
“In short, all good things are wild and free.” Henry David Thoreau: Walking


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