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.

My New Year

It might be the weather, and the way we turn into ourselves when it gets cold. Our muscles work harder to stay warm and our brain naturally goes to warm and cozy places in our memory. Or it could be my birth week in November that causes me to reflect on the experiences that formed me and my idea of ideal. I naturally get tired around this part of the year, I want to retreat to my piles of notebooks and earmarked book pages to build the better me. This is my New Year. Although I am ill prepared for the aging part of my life, I can generally say that I am okay with myself. Not in a gloating way, just in a way that says that if I never do anything more than I do now, I think I would be proud. But, those earmarked books and those tea stained idea accounts are in the old desk, and if all goes to plan, next year will be amazing.

September, thus far.

Thankful started back at school this month. It's been a hard adjustment for Prudence, she is always close at heel with her older sister. Shamefully, I have to admit, it's been a little easier for me to get things done. Not by much, but enough to notice. Its not quite Autumn yet, but its cool, and the horse Chestnut tree in the back is dropping mountains of brown leaves. The leaves hide the miniature balls of fury and hate, the horse chestnuts themselves. Inevitably, I will hear one of the hens hoot and holler, and I will charge out in my bare or stocking feet, forgetting my back yards' natural booby trap.

I feel a looming sense of unfounded fear about winter coming on, there is a need to run around and grab snippets of green, take pictures of the melons still left in the garden, gather more and more firewood and hoard food. Is it because of my heritage career? My homestead line of thought? Is it an inherited knowledge from grandmothers past? Whatever it is, it has become my enemy, I cannot enjoy the change in seasons as much as others do because of it.

September so far has been productive and kind to us. We have been able to sell our soaps at a few outdoor markets again; I love connecting and talking with the customers that have supported my journey so far. I love how my soaps look in the sun.  We were able to acquire an old cast iron stove, heavy and enameled black, for our kitchen. Thankful has settled in and feels comfortable with her new classmates, Prudence has decided to eat more and use words like 'treat', 'please' and 'toot.' Our work calendars are filling up (a good and bad thing), and because of this, our cupboards wont be bare because we chose to live out our heartsong.