I'm telling you, this is absolutely my favorite time of year. There is a deeper blue to the sky which only happens when the sun is sitting farther to the south, plus we get more clouds than we do in summer. I just feel my soul sing when I look up and see it.
This afternoon it's been brisk and breezy here at the homestead, and I've happily been cleaning out the chicken mansion and adding fresh bedding. In the outside run I've added about five inches of straw, just to give the girls something to scratch through and to break down and make some good compost, along with their own waste products. Changing out all the bedding has been moderately good exercise, and something I can easily do without needing the heavy-lifting capabilities of either Big Ag or Groceries, both of whom are occupied with putting rain gutters on the new barn as we speak.
So I've been happily trundling back and forth from the chicken coop to the fallow vegetables beds with a wheelbarrow filled with old bedding, just feeling the cold wind on my face and smelling the deep, comforting smell of burning oakwood from one of the neighboring farm's fireplaces.
This is the life I have chosen, and I can't imagine being happy in any other kind of life. Dirt, manure, blue skies, white clouds, woodsmoke and flannel. It's beautiful.
When you homestead, it's easy to take for granted the things that once thrilled your soul, and its important not to let that happen. Like religion, love, or anything we discover and pursue with passion, we can easily lose the fire, so to speak, once we've arrived.
So it's at the moment we arrive (as well as all the moments afterward) that we need to begin a quest for continual revival in our souls -- a deliberate and conscious stirring up of the passion for those things we brought into our lives because, once upon a time, we couldn't imagine living without them.
The fire can't be permanently renewed from new toys, new animals, new hobbies, or new projects. For the long term, you have to be able to renew that fire just from what you have right now. If it requires a constant influx of the new or the different, you are destined to be a wandering, hungry ghost in this world, no matter where you live.
This week I made soap, made some homemade Bailey's Irish Cream (recipe to follow next week) and did a lot of cooking from our canned goods and stored veggies from summer. It's easy to just consider this the daily grind of country life, but I think its important to stop and think about each task, remembering the thrill I had the very first time I did each of them. Because for me, the country life is not the life I started out with.
This morning while I was inside, I was listening to a station called "Mellow Miles" (Davis) on Songza while I did my chores, and the soft and low tones of the saxophone reminded me of another life -- a life of late evenings spent in low-lit restaurants high above the city, watching the reflection of rain on the streets below, changing through liquid golds, greens and reds as they caught the lights of the traffic signals and streetlights. That was a beautiful life too, just not the one I ultimately chose. But the honeyed tones of a low saxophone playing a slow song can bring it all back, and I still see the beauty in it I saw way back then.
There is beauty to be found in many places, at different times in your life, and as long as you can look out your window and see something that makes your soul do a little flip-flop of happiness, or you can step outside and catch a whiff of fresh air and it smells like comfort and peace to you, then you are where you need to be in the here and now.
If you are in the right place, that's all it will take to renew your passion and purpose in your life...whether its the deep blue of a country sky on a November afternoon or the reflection of a city traffic light on wet pavement at 2 a.m., set to a soundtrack of Miles Davis. That's all it will take.