Even if you are a long ways away from any kind of ‘homesteader’ title, there’s nothing that will make you feel like one so much as battening down the hatches in advance of a ‘NorEaster.
We are due for a heavy load of snow and ice tonight and tomorrow, followed by frigid temperatures on Monday, so today was all about getting ready. I paused on the pantry reduction to stock up a bit on food we could easily eat in the event of power loss, did a bunch of laundry, and made sure the bunnies had a nice clean hutch to hunker down in. We are on Dog-and-Duckle-duty while the neighbors are away skiing, so we made sure everyone was fed and watered. Once the chores were done I put a chicken in the oven with sweet potatoes, parsnips, onions and mushrooms, made some hard-boiled eggs, put a bottle of white wine on to chill, and started a fire in the wood stove.
To say we are tucked up and cozy is an understatement. This is about at good as it gets, life-wise.
My son, who decided he wanted some 1-1 Mom time instead of heading to his grandparents overnight yesterday to ice skate, has been my constant companion this weekend, while Eli wraps up his last few weeks at his day job, before returning to full-time art. Connor was even patient when Mom, not expecting to have him with me this morning, didn’t cancel my hair appointment, and made him tag along. My daughter came home this evening after a wonderful time in Maine, and now we are just, as my children say ‘chillaxing’.
I love this feeling of contentment. I don’t always find time to have it – my list of ‘to-dos’ doesn’t ever seem to get smaller, and there are a lot of things I could probably be doing better, smarter or more/less of. But I can feel those things tomorrow or later or whenever. Tonight is for being satisfied -we are warm, dinner is waiting, and if anyone can be prepared, we are. We don’t have a generator, but we do have plenty of wood, flashlights and candles.
These days flashes of peaceful contentment comes almost surprisingly often. I had a lot of it when I first moved, that feeling of being settled and home, of creating something for myself and the children. And then it got lost for a while in worry and stress. But somehow it has come back, in no small part because of our artist-in-residence, but also because I am allowing myself to acknowledge all I am doing, with an absence of judgement about the things left undone.
It’s a trick I learned from distance running – to focus on the mileage behind you rather than what is left in front of you – it is that, more than anything, that allowed me to pile on the miles. It’s knowing that despite imperfections, I am doing Ok at the Mom thing, the life thing. I don’t know if it’s age, or simply that I have finally given myself permission to be happy, but it’s that sense of ‘Ok, here we are, this is now, and it’s good enough’.
Winter is time for planning, for cleaning and organizing, but most of all, for finding that breath between the moments. Spring will come, and with it the mad rush to finish the garden, get seeds in the ground, a few more fruit trees planted, and if all goes well, transition a new batch of chickens to a brand-new coop with an enclosed run, along with some rain barrels for the garden.
We are slowly but surely headed towards a sustainable life. It’s a process, not something that we’re getting to with any immediacy.
After dinner, the kids and Eli played a game while I washed the dishes and fed the wood stove. Can we do this without grocery stores and regular income? No. Not yet.
But we are on some level, infinitely self sustaining.