Seven Months Is Too Long

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. 

20 Responses

  1. You always speak directly from your heart, and I hear you directly in mine. I love what you share on instagram in all its prettiness, but I truly love what you write here. While I rarely comment here, I have read all of your posts. Every. Single. One. I think as a homeschooling, homesteading mama there’s bound to be a connection, but also being zone 3, having a deep satisfaction with self-sufficiency and soaking in nature, finding contentment in simplicity and the poetry of daily living – these things catch the breath of my soul. I have also found it so hard to *write* for the past two years. There’s a very deep and complex story that needs to be told, but for now it’s stuck. I think about it daily, but it’s not ready. And that’s ok.
    So, a long winded way to say I’ve missed you here, and I’m glad you’re back.

  2. I think so many will be feeling this way, it’s good to hear about how others cope, thank you for sharing.

  3. Hello Heather,
    It’s so nice to hear from you today! I love taking the time to slow down and read your thoughts and see your photos.
    I am reading a series of cookbooks from an author who is from Ukraine, and her stories are so like you. One of her books, “Summer Kitchens” is about the little buildings on their land where they do the cooking in the warmer months, told from the older people’s lives (with lovely photo also) and the history of the recipes. You just have a way of telling stories that are to be treasured. I remember you sharing with us about your Home Journal.
    How exciting for you to be getting the kitchen you’ve dreamed about for years! I’m sure you have your temporary kitchen all planned out for using during the demolition process. And I assume the porch is coming along also, according to a few teaser photos?
    Thank you for sharing with us.

  4. This may have been your best piece of writing yet. It’s raw and real. You will disappoint no one in being yourself. My collage poetry and writing professor would tell me that. I understand about your feelings of writing, but look, you did it. And your words that you may never write again if you don’t, sound loudly in my ears. I don’t think I’ve written once piece and I’m writing this on my tiny phone. And I’m concerned about the same thing; although I didn’t know it until your words were placed in front of me. I’m crying. I think I need to sit down and write even if no one reads my inner most tender feelings. I don’t know how anyone can write a book these days. My heart is broken for many reasons which I’m not sure I can put to paper, not because I don’t know what or have anything to say, because I surly have plenty, but how it may be misinterpreted. I so loved your writing today. It has brought a beautiful rain to my heart with sunshine.

  5. You have put into words almost exactly what I have been feeling. As always, thank you so very much.

  6. I was so happy to see your story (I think?) on IG this morning mentioning a new blog post, and I waited until I had a little quiet time this afternoon so I could sit and read your words on a computer and not just scroll through in a hurry on my phone. (It feels different, I don’t know why, really.) I’m happy to see you back here, and I’m so happy that y’all finally get to start renovating your kitchen! I know that’s something you’ve wanted to do for a while. Hoping we get to see the new one, either here or in H&H. 🙂 I have a feeling it’ll be cozy and functional and just right for you.

  7. Always love reading your writing here, Heather. I hope you guys have a lovely spring.

  8. Heather, thank you for sharing your heart in the real way that you do! I feel like Instagram is becoming far too commercial for my taste so it’s lovely to be in touch in other ways like this. Much love to you and all that you do!

  9. Hello Heather,
    Your words really resonated with me today. Although Social Media has an amazing reach for connectivity and bonding, it’s commercialisation is becoming increasingly tiresome and draining. Yours words in longer pieces whether on your blog or on my favourite space on the web, H & H are of increasing importance. I often will re-read pieces from those spaces as and when the mood takes me, more nurturing as a space.
    I often think of our ancestors and how they navigated periods of time of extreme sadness and upheaval in world events. I noticed they spoke about ‘head down, get on with it survival attitude’ that they collectively endured globally, but admitted it was some years past, sometimes decades before they were able to reflect and put it into words. As you say, spoken from the scar and not the wound. But we are all sitting with the wounds right now and (whispers – the world is tired right now) so a little reflection and acceptance with that is healthy and creates community globally.
    There is still so much to be grateful for and anticipate including your new kitchen!
    Enjoy & savour the transformation 😊

  10. Melissa, would you please share the name of this author? It sounds like just the sort of reading that will help to both comfort and connect. xo lesley

  11. Yes, you have been missed but that woodpile has been rather entertaining. I’ve wondered if it’s in need of replenishing, tried to imagine what the wood was used for, what creatures lived in-beneath-atop it, where it came from, if mushrooms grew on it . . . I even wondered what the wood witnesses. 🙂
    Be well.

  12. I miss your posts Heather. Hopefully you’ll share more recipes, country living and life in VT again soon! <3

  13. What a lovely post
    I hear you. There is so much grief about the state of the world
    But your 2nd to last paragraph gutted me. We still must live, not despite but because of the grief and terror in the world. We make the best life we can, we find joy in the every day, appreciate what we have. Thank you for the reminder!

  14. Yes, Hello Lesley,
    The author is Olia Hercules.
    I’m familiar with you also, as I follow your Blog, “Wild Simplicity”. Thank you also for your sharing.

  15. I’m so glad you are back ❤️ I am a member of hearth and home but I come here often to see if you have updated. It’s always such a pleasure to read whatever you have to say. Your blog is so peaceful and encouraging. I often come here for inspiration. Your blog just seems so real and such a comforting home life.

  16. “There’s a very deep and complex story that needs to be told, but for now it’s stuck.” Yes, I’d have to agree with you on this sentiment. Here’s hoping we get it unstuck but, for now, let’s try to be gentle with ourselves.