Start Again

It’s the first day of Fall. Well, technically, the seasons click over in about 20 minutes. My brain clicks over too; the dozen year old sourdough starter has been revived, the word hearth is becoming part of my daily vernacular.

As a young person, with no binding ties and an idealist pure view of how my life was to be drawn, I decided that my life and career was to be devoted to the hearth. I spent years learning the skills, sensibilities and tasks of an early American woman.

Abiding to the time of the year was the hardest hurdle for me to overcome; it was never a concept I had to consider in my young suburban life. If I didn't take full advantage of the day, there was a large chance that I wouldn't be able to perform the appropriate tasks for the season. If I missed this season’s skills, another year would pass before I could finally check that task off of my list. Every skill built off of the last.

The only constant seemed to come from the hearth, and the fire was the driving force. The hearth provided light for all tasks and trades, safety by cooking the food that nourished the household, and heat to warm and dry. There is a reason the saying “the hearth is the heart of the home” exists: it is a living heartbeat on even the warmest days.

Every morning, a dutiful walk to the kitchen garden would determine and provide the day’s menu. The heavy door to the summer kitchen would open slowly, and it would swirl and push  the settled air towards my face. The breeze was always heavy, carrying the weight of the smoke that the rafters held onto during the day. The hearth and the coals banked the day before, smell like spent hickory ash. This was my perfect moment of the day. It was so perfect that in the warm new Spring, it almost made me yearn for the cold Winter day, where the middle of my back aches from being so tense and chilled. It urged me to remember that feeling where my fingers slowly gain sensation after building a triumphant fire. It reminded me to keep the rhythm that our ancestors had to keep, the cycle that kept them alive: build, save, split, hunker, dream, start again.

I grew into a new family way, and moved us to a drafty farmhouse in a field. The wind was cutting in the winter; the space in the fenced area by the front door was unturned and ready. The old growth forest had layers of wood waiting to be split, stacked and used. I knew my path, and how I wanted to introduce this beautiful, hard and fruitful life to my girls. My sweet husband, who didn't have the same education or aspirations, begrudgingly gave in to my still idealist pure view of how I wanted to live this life.

We build a handsome fire, and it heats the room we are in. The smell of woodsmoke sticks to the blankets and our sweaters. The new kitchen garden provided well in the summer; our cupboards stocked with that perfect strawberry, preserved for the coldest night. The second garden is being planned and drawn, and the girls are excited about the idea of corn cobs that look like jewels.

Build, save, split, hunker, dream, and start again. The life cycle of my ancestors that kept them alive, keeps me alive today. This is why I am the way I am.

Click. Welcome new season, old friend.

Our Folklyfe

Earlier this month, we resumed filming our heritage web series, 'folklyfe, ' at the Hibbs House in Washington Crossing Historic Park. We chose this site and subject of open hearth cookery to be the kick off of the larger episodes- it is what I felt safest with. I felt confident and secure in the site and with what I was speaking about, and that really helps me with the whole camera thing. That, and a couple of shots of Fireball.

This year has been trying- we had laid out everything we needed to make this happen seamlessly. But, life. We were originally dissuaded from continuing production early last year because we were contacted by a publisher who wanted to make this a book instead of a web series. I have to admit, we entertained the notion of scrapping the production and running with the book. But the loss of intellectual property, the lack of much needed time to gather an authentic experience to document in said book, and the heavy realization that the promotion and the success of this project would be squarely on us, weighed heavily. After some time, we made our choice. We would write the book, but it would be ours. We would write the book, but it would be genuine in our experiences. We would write the book, but it would be along side of our production; where our children will learn something, where I would work beside my husband, where we would live out our heartsong.

Our book, 'Our Folklyfe,' will be published Fall 2018.

We invite you to join us in our journey, as it will be smelling of wood smoke, heavy with history, and an authentic experience. Thank you for all of the support we were given at the planting of the project, and I know in deepest parts of my heart that this will be an amazing step towards growth, knowledge and security for our family and yours.

'Folklyfe, ' (the web series) is scheduled to be released on March 20, 2018, the first day of Spring.  See you then.



Strong Women

Wearing a dress never slowed down Maude Shope, even at age 76. Whether she was climbing gates, attending corn shuckings, or riding her mule Frank bareback, Maude proved women could do just about anything in a skirt. Maude also believed in respect and honesty above all things: "I say nasty words sometimes, and cuss sometimes. I've done that. But stealin'r'lyin' to y', I'm not a'gonna' do it. I think that is a dirty thing t'do. I believe in bein' honest--tellin' th'truth. That's th'way I feel."