Last Thursday the power went out ten minutes prior to publishing the week’s lesson in Hearth & Home. This week, ten minutes after. Feeling like that’s a small victory and choosing to revel in it. So here I sit, not a blip of mechanical sound in the house, cookstove fired up so it’ll be hot enough to fry Scout’s eggs when he’s ready to come inside for the day. Might toss some chicken hearts in the pan, too. He likes that. I decided to sit beside the toasty hearth and see if I have any words to share. In the morning we’ll butcher our pigs, and while I hope the power returns for the task, I’m enjoying the quiet right now.
It’s been so long that I feel a brief update is in order. Life has been good and sad and beautiful and heartbreaking and hopeful and lived more reverently than I can ever recall. I have a feeling you understand.
Once the rhythm of harvest and hunting and the holidays came to a close, and we settled in for hibernation, it took a few weeks to figure out what felt so different about this winter. Finally, it was crystal clear. I have a history of ceremoniously hunkering down during the winter months. I don’t know that I excel at many things in life, but true and proper hibernation is one of them. Self-employment coupled with homeschooling has allowed for it more easily than the alternatives. Still, this year felt different, deeper to the point of almost embarrassing luxury. As January neared its final days, it finally occurred to me: This is our first winter with a truly empty nest. No more teenage years, no more college student coming and going. Our daughter now lives in another state with an address of her own. She has a career and a new life, and we are as done with our job of parenting as any parents could be. Maybe I needed time to think about that. Maybe I’ve needed time for other reasons.
They say you shouldn’t write from your wounds, you should only write from your scars. I think I’ve reached a point where if I don’t write from my wounds I may never write another word again. The daily pain of looking out on such a broken world feels impossible to navigate, yet navigate we must. So each morning, a new bandage with a salve of hope, and yet, no visible healing by day’s end. Maybe tomorrow. If not, carry on anyway.
Sure, I keep busy on Instagram, but it’s different. A few sentences about my day or this neat thing I made or these cute pigs does not lay the soul bare. Over there, I feel like company’s visiting. I’m careful. Here, I think I’m still careful by nature, but I don’t spend any time anticipating how a reader might interpret my lived experience then explain back to me what my words really mean, according to them. It’s quite a phenomenon in our fast-paced, thumb-scrolling world today. The writer reveals their life, their heart, their worries, their dreams, and the reader tells them what it is they mean. It forces me to wear armor over there in a way I don’t tend to wear here, which I suppose makes the wounds of the last 2+ years feel all the more tender in this space. I guess that’s why I haven’t shown up.
Gosh, what a downer. I don’t mean to be! Life is good and bluebirds are landing on perches outside the kitchen window. Seeds have sprouted and new trees are being planted. We had a wonderful sugaring season and I secretly took note of the way my husband silently pats the side of each tree in gratitude every time he empties a bucket. He emptied hundreds of buckets this season; that’s a lot of thanksgiving. The best part is I’m not sure he realizes he does it. The steelhead are running and soon there will be nettles and spruce tips to harvest. In two weeks we’ll gut our entire kitchen and rebuild it in our own way, rustic and unconventional. It will surprise no one that knows me. I’m looking forward to it.
I am grateful you stopped by today, I’ll try not to be such a stranger. Seven months is too long.