Some five years ago we found an old millkeeper's cottage in the Swedish country side. It made us sleep very well but also woke us up a little.
It's a stone house with walls thick enough to block out the internet and any other airborne signals. It has an ancient heating system that runs on the wood one should have chopped last summer. Water is pumped directly from the lake into the house and heated by that same wood.
Simple. Us, wood, and a lot of common sense.
Across the meadow from the house is an old barn. Carved on one of its walls are names of millkeepers past, along with dates of their passing, some going back 200 years. Likely carved by the wives, daughters or sons of those men.
So we thought, how does one get on such a wall?
After all, we never dove into icy water to repair the dam to prevent flooding. We never risked our lives un-jamming the 12-foot milling wheel so that seed can be turned to flour to bread. We never slayed and gutted the pig the children called their pet to keep from going hungry in the winter.
Our version of millkeeping is nowhere near the same, but we're trying to keep that same spirit, honest care and long term thinking. We're sticking our city-folk hands into country worker gloves to see what comes out. We'll try to do it as right as we can and see if we get a mention on that wall.
Photo by: Stina, wife of Bertil, the last Millkeeper