I love celebrating, and Halloween is especially fun with costumes and carving pumpkins. But this year the everyday work of keeping a farmstead going and homeschooling three children alone while Ethan is far away working crushed all hopes of a leisurely celebration. There were pumpkins carved, and costumes made, but these celebrations were done mostly by children alone, while I was out fixing pipes and fences, milking, and building garden beds.
The cold, dry weather is here. The grasses are dormant in the pasture, and a new litter of piglets is rooting around with the big mama pigs. Light frosts in the nights have dusted back the summer weeds that were threatening the winter garden. The winter plants are thriving on the cold – and I am thankful because I couldn’t have covered them.
This season I have felt nearly overwhelmed by all the tasks ahead of me when i rise each cold morning, and all the tasks that still remain undone when the daylight has failed earlier and earlier each day.
This morning I woke while the sky was still dark and studded with stars, and felt a heavy chill settling through the wool and down blankets, making me shiver. The wood stove was only ashes and embers, and I had slept through the time to stoke it in the night.
Instead of making a new fire, I stumbled out into the sharper, more bitter cold outside, pulling on layers of wool as I did so. The kitchen was chilled, only slightly warmer than outside. When I pulled out the milk jars to skim the cream, the fridge felt warm to my hand. The butter I churned from the cream was pale, the color of winter butter.
For awhile I sat in the cold, dark kitchen, with Tabitha purring on my lap, unwilling to face the day yet. The cold felt harsh, and the impossible amount of work felt heavy. The light grew stronger and stronger. I knew the animals were cold too, and hungry, and the thought of their hunger made me set Tabitha unhappily aside.
It was grey outside, and my hands ached with cold through the wool while I filled the turkeys water. I was carrying two heavy buckets uphill to the little pigs, past the calves munching hay with steamy breath, along the edge of the forest, when a light caught my eye, beaming through the woods, it startled me; I thought it was a fire.
It was the sun, blazing golden through the dark trees, shining with light and warmth.