Friday, June 22, 2012

Rubber Boots and Antique Sieves

My mornings have morphed into a simple routine involving large rubber boots, my pajamas and the garden hose. Each day shortly after waking up and well before coffee, my daughter and I begin our morning rounds, beginning with the kittens, who lazily emerge from under the chicken coop and begin prancing and pouncing around the yard. Lexi checks on the rabbits first, picking one up at a time so they get used to being handled. They are already larger than when we brought them home, consuming large quantities of broccoli as a favorite snack courtesy of my dad and his garden.
Next we move on to the hens, who are impatiently waiting in their coop to be released to the outdoors. They know when they go in the run, Lexi will come out and dump the remainder of yesterday's food on the ground for them, scattering it inside their pen for them to forage. For some reason it tastes better off of the ground and they get excited, with wings flapping and lots of coos and clucks. Then it's off to refill the water fonts and feeders all the way back at the front of the house, which is the only place we have an outdoor spigot. A short bath, a rinse of the dishes and everyone is a bit more prepared to face the day, whether it brings sweltering summer heat or cool breezes and rain. We are fed and sheltered, and we are a happy bunch.
After tending to the livestock, we can take care of our needs: getting dressed, having breakfast, brushing hair and the like. We do so with a greater sense of urgency because often at this point we are running late to a morning appointment or just rushing to that place where we can finally relax, having completed the morning's chores. Something crossed off our list this early feels good, a great way to start the tempo for the day.
I love days like today, where I can spend some time after the morning feedings alone with a cup of lukewarm coffee and my laptop, clicking out stories or query letters at a slower and more deliberate pace. This is the time of day when my head is clearest and I do my best work. I can see the connections in life, between people, things and events, more clearly in the morning sun than I do once the world intrudes on my peace and quiet. This is my time to connect with the earth, say a silent prayer of gratitude and hope, and pour out onto screen or paper all my innermost thoughts and feelings. My writing becomes a sacred act.
Creatives like me don't always move at the same pace as the rest of the world. We need time to lounge and reflect, to piece together the intricacies of the universe inside our minds before we can adequately describe the beauty and pain around us to others. That's why homesteading so appeals to me I think. It is a chance to reconnect to my roots. I can bake a loaf of bread from scratch and imagine my great grandmother once doing the same thing or feed the chickens vegetable scraps and marvel at how efficiently they turn waste into edible protein. I can slow down and experience the world here in awe and wonder, instead of it flashing by me in a blur.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting some older folks at a yard sale where I discovered an antique puree sieve for jam and jelly making. It was rewarding to pause for a while and hear their stories, something I think is often lost these days as we rush to work and school, soccer and ballet. Chasing the ever elusive material success sometimes leaves us tired and empty-handed, slightly confused when we realize the journey was what mattered, not getting to the destination. Instead I heard about chickens and what my county was like in the years before I was born, got a tip on another nearby sale, and learned from my elders, even if only what it means to be neighborly.
I love waking up in the country, smelling the dew on the grass and tending to the needs of these animals before my own. It's what keeps me grounded in a world so bent on consumption and material gain. Here I can hunt down experiences and learn skills that many people don't ever get to have. I know how a metal bread pan leaves the ends of a loaf of bread looking folded and how lemon balm is used in tea and what the ping of a canning jar sounds like. Do you?
Now as I try to cultivate slowness and patience in myself, I pray that I can fit my writing somehow seamlessly into it all and provide for my family with my talents and gifts. If I am only given the chance to prove my resourcefulness, it shines like a beacon in the night. This girl is not afraid of hard work to get there. Every day begins and ends with work on a farm. If given the chance, I'll help prove to the world that its beauty and truth we should be chasing, not money or fame. I dream of a way to share my words with the world and earn not riches but enough to provide a simple, slow and deliberate life for my family, one where we can enjoy the little things that so often go unnoticed. But writers have to eat too, and I need someone to gift me with the chance to make my dream a reality. I want it so bad I can taste it and pray the flavor doesn't change to bitter disappointment.
Say a little prayer for me, that the freelance clients will decide to start projects, that I can find at least part time work doing something I love, and that we can finally include in our routine writing as work.

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