Sunday was just about the most awful day possible, beginning very early with a leak in the kitchen roof. All morning I did chores outside in the almost freezing rain, and in the afternoon Mirin and I had to clear brush from the road so we could get a hay delivery to the cows back there.
Off and on I struggled to light smoky cook and heating fires with wet firewood in vain hopes of a hot bite to eat. Later we rushed away through the drizzle, very much enjoying the heater in the car, to get feed to replace a feed storage disaster that ended up with the better part of the expensive 1,500 lb tote of grass fed dairy cow ration becoming a giant block of mold. It was then that I realized Clothilde had climbed on the windshield and broken one of the wipers, making it very tedious and difficult to navigate the highway traffic through the pouring rain.
Just as we were almost home, feed successfully obtained, our mean neighbor called to say our extremely bad dog had run off and was at her house. We rushed over, hoping she wouldn’t call animal control on us again, and almost got stuck on a lime rock road that looked like pancake batter.
After I managed steering with the skid and over hidden bumps and through sketchy puddles with limited visibility because of the broken wiper and arrived at the neighbor’s house, she grumpily informed us that Cloudy had escaped her and disappeared.
When we got back home Cloudy was waiting for us, tail spinning madly, as if she had never been gone. We had dinner guests waiting for us too, and an awkward evening ahead full of unsucessful attempts at conversation with two city slicker friends from high school that i have absolutely nothing in common with anymore. They departed earlyish at least, because everything was too rustic for them, leaving us at last in damp, chilly, smoky peace.
Some days you just can’t win, no matter how hard you try. Needless to say, i started the week feeling depressed and anxious about everything.
I woke up from a strange dream the next morning smelling a smell that reminded me of when we first lived here, the sunlight baking on the rafters perhaps, and i thought of how happy i had been and wished i didn’t have all my difficulties of the present day. Then i remembered the nine hard months we were without steady income then, not knowing what the future held for our family. I tried to remember what the difference was between then and now, and i realized that somehow, caught up in busyness, i have forgotten to welcome Thrift into my life.
I used to think of thrift as stingy, cheap, and pinching pennies, but I’ve come to realize that Thriftiness, cultivated as a virtue, is a secret to happiness. It is a sacred mindset, rooted in gratitude.
Thriftiness is about recieving and appreciating all the gifts and blessings that are offered, on grim days and through dark difficulties. Indeed, when I stopped dwelling on Sunday’s misadventures and started to think of all the gifts I was being given at that very moment – and no gift is too small to acknowledge through Thrift, I started to feel better and better and happier and happier.
Each breath, each heart beat is a gift, the singing of the birds, the sun and moon and starlight. Suddenly the child whining and tugging at you for attention doesn’t annoy – it is a gift of love and companionship, and you can reach for the little one who one day will not always be there beside you, and kiss their rosy cheeks and hold them close for that moment.
I know that when i walk with Thriftiness in my mind to milk the cows, they can sense the devotion of accepting the gift of their milk and the love of being honored, and they behave differently.
Best of all, when you see how many gifts there are in each moment, each waiting only for a little moment of appreciation to become golden in your heart, suddenly what you have already becomes so much more than what you thought you wanted.
This is a recipe i like to cook to share at potlucks and dinner parties because everyone always really likes it. I have been using fresh turmeric from the garden instead of turmeric powder. It is one of the gifts that cheered me up this week, with its medicine and flavor and bright beautiful color.
You can use brown or white rice for this recipe, though i prefer white rice in general because it seems more digestible for my family. I cook it in good broth to mediate the lack of nutrients in the refined grain. In the garden i have several varieties of upland rice planted, and i look forward to making this with homegrown rice!
2 Tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely diced
1 cup rice
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove
1 small hot pepper
2 tablespoons grated fresh turmeric
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
Fresh parsley for garnish
2 cups broth
1. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan and fry the diced onion until clear.
2. Stir in the rice and fry a minute more, then add the bay leaf, whole clove, hot pepper, salt, pepper, and grated fresh turmeric.
3. After a minute add the broth and lemon juice. Put a lid on and set it to cook about 20 minutes. Fluff it with a fork and sprinkle with fresh parsley to serve.