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November Embers

We work harder maintaining our country homestead than we did when we lived in an apartment in the city.  In the city we were DINKS (double-income-no-kids), and there was some cleaning, but there was no yard to mow or dirt coming in from outside.  Kids create additional labor in any household, but our rural, off-grid life creates a number of extra chores.

Our laundry never sees the inside of an electric dryer.   We do the upkeep on our solar inverter.  Heating with wood (whether we buy or cut it) is more time consuming than simply ordering a winter’s worth of oil, but last night as I was working on dinner, I thought of the unexpected annual rewards we are about to reap from our labors.

For the last few weeks, we’ve been stacking wood.  We’ve been stocking the freezer and the pantry in anticipation of snowy weather that can bind us to the house for days.  We’ve been catching up on laundry that will dry inside on racks for the next few months.

As November rolls in, however, the load becomes lighter.  Filling the wood bin becomes our one regular outdoor task.  Snow is imminent, enforcing a welcome break from mowing and sowing.  And the question of ‘what’s for dinner?’ is always, as it was last night, answered by the contantly bubbling pot of Stone Soup on the woodstove.

Last night I wandered back and forth between the pantry and the pot, tossing in dried veggies from the garden and other odds and ends from a cupboard that is stocked for the winter.  There was no recipe and no stress.  And when the pot was full, I sat on the couch to snuggle with the boys as it simmered.

This is our winter pattern.  It’s slow and quiet.  It’s warm and close.

So when night comes, the flames in the wood cookstove become embers that will kindle another fire in the morning, we may be tired from the day, but we never regret the labors we took on when we chose a life closer to the land and farther from the madding crowd.