I put up 200 pounds of tomatoes this weekend. I also turned off my Internet for a couple of days. The tired had gotten all the way down into my bones, and when that happens the only rest is good hard work — best of all good hard work done leaning slightly on the porch post with a view of the hills turning to autumn.
My kids are working into the thickest part of the homeschool season. Now that we’re started and before we get fatally distracted, there’s about three months of solid homeschool magic. Stella is beginning her times tables and we’re all drawing the life cycle of a frog and words mean things and mostly at this point learning is fun. I try to drink it up, because learning and my family are my two favorite things, and these days are numbered.
It helps that Milo is still doing his writing work based on the children’s fantasy author Percy Jackson. This is a bit unorthodox, but we’d better do these fun things while we still can. And this is the kind of work that saves me, too, when I correct papers about Cyclops and how hero kids play capture the flag and the Council of Arcadia. “No, honey, Cyclops is only capitalized if it’s a particular cyclops. Is there only one? Or is it a whole category of magical person? Let’s discuss.”
Meanwhile, our crochet factory is getting into gear. I just finished my first project of the season. And Stella’s scarf is long enough that she can work on it with it also wrapped around her neck, smiling out at the world from her nest in the slanted light.
We do love the fall for all these cozy things. Low slanted light and ordinary days. No pumpkin spice lattes around here. But we don’t miss them.
Our family’s one fall birthday is Sadie’s. She will turn four in the month of October. It is always the birthday kid’s privilege to set the dinner menu and she’s just young enough and just old enough that this is an adventure. Sweet Milo wanted chicken casserole for his birthday dinner. So now Sadie wants chicken casserole and roast chicken and also rice and bread and canned peaches and ice cream. So there you have it. What else is there that is wonderful in the whole world? Really? She’s pretty much got it in the bag.
I still have a lot of chores in the morning. We have rabbits now, in a hutch in the garden. I’m not sure that having another animal around here is defensible, but it seems to have happened anyway. I’m still childbearing age and we’re not having any more babies, so maybe that’s a part of how it is that baby animals keep showing up here and getting loved.
They grow quickly, though. Our little baby duck – the one baby duck of the whole season — is two-thirds the size of her mama now. We’re getting ready to give her another family who needs a duck hen. So maybe that averages out.
There’s wood to do now. The wood shed isn’t empty but it isn’t full either. It’s our constant fall labor. And as soon as I’m all cleaned up from the tomatoes I’m doing 2 gallons of elderberry juice – enough to share – and then we’re starting apples. It’s also the season for us of gifting. We’re giving away eggs and jars of jam and cookies and duck hens and things made of yarn, trying to live and share the feeling of ordinary abundance.
My iphone is probably somewhere, but I’m not sure where.
The church is still in ordinary time. Not that I know much about these things — liturgical calendars and such — but the seasons of the church are rooted in the seasons of the soul and fall is one of these. It’s the season of this kind of work that brings a soul to rest, leaning on the porch post, stirring the sauce and looking out at the fall coming on the hills.
For me it’s like this: one foot in front of the other through these ordinary moments of harvest and preparation. It’s like walking through caverns of crystals, or walking through gold sand. You can have all the wealth there is as long as you let it wash past you.
The news cycle doesn’t feel very ordinary. Here in the US we had our presidential debate this week and I know some people are hopeful but I’m mostly very uneasy. I don’t like the way our public debate has turned. There’s too much language of hatred and disrespect. I worry about the way we claim the right to anger, and the way we lean into our fear. It maybe isn’t new, that politics would play to the very lowest of our urges. But I can’t call this necessary. And I can’t imagine how it will help, at a time when there is so much need for help.
The woods are still in ordinary time. The woods are still in days of details upon details adding up to riches, the kind of age that adds instead of taking away. The woods don’t follow famous names. Out here we are still in the life cycle of a frog and the innocent imagination of children and the squirrels who have their stores and are sitting pretty waiting for the snow. There’s no excuse here, to give in to fear.
We try to find a balance, turning off the Internet and breathing and giving little things away. We try to live fully in this ordinary time: lives overflowing with shards of meaningful things, lives grounded moment to moment in something I sometimes call reality. There’s no excuse here, to give in to scarcity.
Wishing you all some ordinary days, this season. Wishing you all a strong center and strong faith and the kind of work you can breathe in. And all the rich abundance of a humble life.
Love from the yurt,