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I canned all afternoon yesterday. It seemed appropriate to labor on Labor Day. When Nick called from town in the early evening to make sure he had the grocery list all set I was in the middle of a batch of wild plum jam and my hands were full. I gave the phone to our precocious three-year-old, who loves to talk on the phone, and I filled half pint jars with jam while Sadie told her daddy everything she could think of to tell him, which is about three things. Then she was done and she tried to give the phone to me, but I was still measuring hot jam into jars so I said, “Keep talking.”

She put the phone back up to her little three-year-old ear and did her best, but she couldn’t think of anything to say. So she said, “This is awkward.” Then, “Not you’re awkward. I’m awkward.” And then, “I don’t even know what awkward means.”

I died laughing. I don’t know what old soul was born into that little body that makes her say things like this. But every ten minutes since then Nick and I have saying it to each other, each to make the other laugh. “Well, this is awkward.” It’s awkward that the color treatment on the steel bridge doesn’t look quite the way either of us hoped. It’s awkward that it turned cold this week and though we have plenty of dry logs we haven’t even begun the hard work of putting up cut firewood. It’s awkward that we have a guest (a stud) in the goat barn so Hazelnut has to sleep in the chicken coop.

Of course, we don’t even know what awkward means.

If Nick is always saying that we’re looking to test our limits, to see how life much we’re capable of grabbing with these two hands and this number of years, we just for sure hit the upper limit. Boom. Oh, hey, there it is. The YouTube channels are going to be quiet for a few days while I figure out how to manage homeschool and out of town visitors along with my other two or three full-time jobs.

My life is so beautiful, but it is…so…full.

At bedtime I didn’t have the kids’ quilts because that’s what Nick was doing in town, going to the laundromat to wash all the quilts. So I wrapped them up in their fleece blankets that their aunt made for them and I lit a fire in the little old woodstove, which has faithfully kept us warm through cold nights and frosty days for the last three years. It was like meeting up with an old friend.

I sat for a little bit in front of it, because it’s really not correct to do the first fire of the fall any other way, while the kids looked at books with their headlamps the way they do every night.

It’s awkward, that we’re so vulnerable…in these mortal bodies so able to experience discomfort and disappointment and even harm. I was just reading a great article by a friend about disability. How she goes through her life saying, “Thank you,” and “I’m sorry.” I thought how the real trick to this whole life is figuring how to bump up against your limits and have grace doing it. See also: how to see others bumping up against their limits and have grace seeing it.

God knows we all have our days when we’re flat out.

The sunflowers are finally in bloom. Our little baby duck is growing up fast. The other night we had a hawk touch one of our chickens and fly away without it. Like a warning. Nick is steady like always. But if you look closely he’s going from tense to elated and back again like a washing machine spin cycle. I don’t look forward to the middle of winter for any reason except to see my husband rest.

Milo is nine years old now and reading Percy Jackson and trying really hard to not freak out when his little sisters mess with him. I had him peeling pears (we did pears before we did the plum jam) and he was quiet for such a long time and had such a deep, thoughtful look I had to ask if he was okay. He answered with a question. “Why do wasps get so big?” I said I didn’t know. He said, “Because of the Vitamin Bee.”

Stella is crocheting washcloths at a rate of approximately one per day and trying really hard to not torture her brother, even when it’s incredibly easy to do. Sadie, besides working on learning how to correctly use the word, “awkward,” is interested in watercolor paints and coloring and grandmas.

I don’t know if I’m moving fast enough, to meet all the expectations over me right now. I don’t know if I can. Honestly, I might be headed into some awkward moments. But I can only hope I can meet the things I can’t do with half the courage of a little child. I can only hope that though I’m stretched thin I’ll still be laughing.

Wishing you all some place where you can be fearlessly awkward, and the strength to be that place for someone else.

With love (from the yurt),
Esther

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