Thursday, February 5, 2015

Emerging from our Dark Days

 Avery is skipping around the house singing of summer as I sit down to type. She has been at it for at least ten minutes; singing of riding her bike, playing in the mud and in the garden and even itching from bug bites. It is that time of year. The dark days of winter are behind us. Days of sun on sparkling snow and a brighter blue sky are ahead. As I walked up to the chickens today carrying a bucket of scraps and a jug of water, I noticed a chickadee with a different call than I've been hearing. Not their usual short trills and chatter as they go to and fro from the trees to the feeders, but longer and louder calls like he actually had something important to say. As I paused to study him I noticed that for the first time since November, the sun was hitting the tops our Birch trees. I'm not yet dreaming of mud, aching muscles and sunburn, but I am looking forward to sun warming my face as I play outside on warm sunny winter days. I'm dreaming of the deep blue sky of March.

I feel triumphant this time of year. The darkest months are the hardest for me, and those are behind us. Some Januaries I fall deep into books, not to emerge until the month has past, shaking off a fog only to realize that yes I rested, but I have nothing to show for myself, none of the after Holiday crafting that I'd hoped to continue. This winter I've been listening to more audio books and knitting. This past month I knitted myself the Clodach hat pattern in a gray baby Alpaca, the Lace and Twist gloves in a similar shade of gray and I've almost finished a gift for next Christmas. I pulled out all my yarn the other day and am trying to come up with something else I can make without having to buy more yarn, but have yet to form a plan.

My new Clodach hat.

Lace and Twist Gloves

This winter has been so beautiful. Every day I have walked outside and admired the winter beauty all around us. It helps to have reduced my farm chore load significantly. I'm more inclined to take a walk with Avery anytime she asks. We stroll leisurely and toss sticks for the dog. I miss our goat walks, but our walks now are much more peaceful. I don't have to chose between whether the dog or the goats come along. Avery can gather dried leaves and moss as she likes to do without the goats tackling her to nibble on her gatherings. Noah built me a flat bird feeder that Dustin mounted outside my kitchen window. Now I can wash dishes and look at chickadees just a couple feet from me. Red polls and Pine Gross Beaks have also been coming to the feeders and we enjoy watching them immensely. Watching the birds on cold days is comforting, to see that there is still so much life carrying on outdoors, even in the cold.

 Kids playing with the dog near the wood piles.

 Newest chalkboard drawing.

We are having productive school days. Noah and I are just getting in to studying the Haudenosaunee. The chalkboard drawing is the beginning of our morning blessing. I hope it sets the mood for our studies to come. We will be building a small longhouse and maybe even a larger one in the garden this year. Avery has started reading over the past couple weeks. She spent a couple days on the beginning readers and has already moved onto more challenging beginning readers.

 This week and next we are working with the days of the week and the months of the year. Most seasonal poems do not synch with our seasons here, so I wanted to make a poem that described what we are doing here during each month. Dustin was give a Steelers Football calendar and that is all we had so far, and I didn't think I could look at it all year, so the kids and I made some water color paintings yesterday thinking of different months and today we began writing on them. They came up with ideas for their month's verses and I tried to help make it sound ok.

I realized today that I don't want to vacation anymore in the middle of winter. I appreciate the beauty of this land more when I am here all winter to enjoy it. When we leave to a tropical paradise for sun and sand and heat and then come home, how can one not be disappointed at the muted gray tones, dry air and lack of sun. I'd rather just keep a steady pace all winter, moving through each day of wood fires and lanterns, stories and songs, noting the subtle differences in each day, the gradual gaining of light and the days where everything just sparkles even in the winter sun. I like extremes. But flying somewhere hot for a short time and then coming home with months of winter still to go is just a tease, bound to bring on a bout of winter blues. Well, that's how I'm feeling today, yet at the same time I'm already planning next year's winter vacation.