Gathering warmth and light

What a beautiful, strange November.  Many nights the fire is not started, or is allowed to go out while sleeping, and it is rarely going during the day. Still, the light keeps fading, paying no mind to weather that thinks it is September.  There’s something within that whispers a reminder that the temperature will soon sync with the light, despite a son still trying to go to school in a t-shirt every day.

That something within started whispering early this year (or did it just not stop shouting from last winter?), crocheting a winter hat back in June during a visit to a sister who could help interpret a pattern I’d been wanting to make.

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While their garage went up and food was kept flowing, our hats went ’round…

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Between breaks to the pond where I once went to Hornet’s Nest Day Camp (I’m still curious who came up with that name) and romps through the rows of Picadilly Farm

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After time for grandparents’ tree swings, for impressive communal brick oven pizza partaking under the Orchard Hill pavilion….

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While children headed off on adventures with cousins, while gathered around fires…

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Until it was done, this winter hat ready on the first week of summer…

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In an effort to reclaim it, I promised a little girl one of her very own.  Last week we started making it, because surely it will be useful in the not too distant future.  How much bigger she is to crochet with 5 months later.

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We find other ways to save up all the light and warmth we can gather during these friendly November days.  I harvest the still-going-strong calendula flowers, mix with dried elder flowers gathered earlier this year, and infuse them together in grape seed oil.  In a month I’d like to try using it as the base for a face cream recipe I’ve wanted to try from this Rosemary Gladstar book.  For, ahem, “sageing” skin.

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I remember how much I loved morning eggs last winter topped with Cracked Pepper Leek Kraut from the Taproot magazine “Mend” issue, and get another batch started, because goodness there are still so many eggs coming in.

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We make another batch of elderberry syrup (from the same Rosemary Gladstar book), just in time to help with a round of autumn sniffles.

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Every morning on the way to the chickens, I pass by the two garden swales I’d wanted to finish before the first snow flies so they can compost in place over winter, the ones that would double our garden space for next year.  With a little help from special straw delivery, valiant rock movers, and seaweed gathering sidekicks, one more row is well on its way.

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I’m not so sure that last garden swale will get done, because priority is going to windows for as long as the warmth holds up.  Five in on the second floor now.  These are much, much heavier to try to hold up at that tapered outward angle while they are fixed in place.  I can’t quite imagine what it will be like to put in those patio door size windows on the first level…

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Then sometimes there is unexpected last minute winter readying.  Like children “rescuing” hardy grasshoppers from the coming cold.

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The grasshoppers are now returned back to their own weather changing process.  But the rosemary plant has come inside.  And very quickly this was happening to it…

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Not yet, not yet!  How can it be when we’ve just finished eating garden tomatoes?  Josh made a roasted tomato soup from the last batch we picked pre-frost to slowly ripen inside.  So good.  It seemed a fitting way to celebrate that last bit of summer hanging out in the yurt with us.

But now, by the time I’ve wandered to the end of this post, these November mornings are getting frostier.

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At night we tuck in with The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich (how much we all love this book).  This historical fiction based on the Ojibwe tribe living on an island in Lake Superior during the documented small pox outbreak of 1847 makes us all think about weather, land, who we come from.  We think about their winter, so harsh after a poor wild rice harvest, death and weakness from the spread of the settlers’ illness, near starvation.

Quite quickly perspective changes, the impending deep cold dramatically less daunting with harvest at hand (and a grocery store), a hand pump that suddenly seems luxurious, a wood stove at the ready, the grace of health, a sheltering home…

11 thoughts on “Gathering warmth and light

  1. Awesome. November has been sweet here too! Glad to hear your fall has been extended after all the snow you saw last year. It sure is nice to get a reprieve from the weather when you can use it. The new windows look great – so does that hat!

  2. So lovely, all the gardening and handwork and food preservation and cooking that marks my own ideal life!

    Happy Thanksgiving! JoAnna

    In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love. Mother Teresa

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