Midsummer’s Homecoming

As soon as I got home, everyone rushed over to me, barking and wriggling and glad. It was wonderful to wake up at night again and hear other people breathing, to feel the dogs walking on the deck outside, scratching and playing, to have my favorite kitty Ginger snuggled purring next to me, and to hear the roosters singing in the darkness.

I woke up in the morning and went outside in to the bright Midsummer light to see the chickens sweeping the yard, the happy cows and goats grazing the growing pasture, and Fat Sam (as Sam Socks is recently called) curled up asleep in my basket. Even with all the messes and imperfections, home felt so beautiful and alive.

I’ve been reading a book this week called “The Spirit of Intimacy” by Sobonfu Some. It sounds like it is about romantic relationships, but actually it is about living with other people in all kinds of relationships. One thing that really spoke to me was how strange it sounds to her family living in the rural African village, surrounded by family and friends, to hear about the custom here for people to live in a house by themselves.

Having just experienced a sense of aloneness for only a couple of days, devoid of family, friends, plants or animals, I feel that. I felt nervous and restless, not because I needed to interact with people (I did see many people when I went out), but because it felt so strangely dead and devoid of life in an empty house in the city.

I know many people find being alone comforting, because you don’t have to deal with other people. I might not mind being the only human in the landscape – but being in a small space closed off from life – it’s unnatural. It seems like the greatest struggle for modern people is how to cope and live with this great disconnect from each other and the earth. How many people struggle for their whole life with never feeling part of a loving community, not feeling wanted or that the gifts they bring to earth are unused or unappreciated? I think we feel how unnatural it is to live this way on a very deep level.

A not well-known friend on social media recently criticized me for being “privileged” – a curious remark from someone who lives in a giant, expensive house on the West coast, given that I live in a glorified tent in the middle of nowhere with no heat, no gas, no indoor plumbing, and I find myself more often than I’d like to admit driving around with the air compressor in the back seat because I haven’t the time or the money to replace a leaking tire.

But I realize, I AM privileged, but it’s not a house or a car or any material thing that has made me so. I’m lucky because I get to spend so much time with my family that I love, and especially my children through homeschooling, and all my wonderful friends near and far. I’m lucky because my life is full of starlight and moonlight and the moving shadows across the pasture. I’m lucky here with all my animals and plants in these sacred relationships in which we fully benefit one another and make the world clean, fruitful, and beautiful at the same time. I’m lucky because my hard work tastes like sweet blueberries dripping from the branches, and thick, creamy cream skimmed from the tops of the milk jars.

I was glad to be home for Midsummer, which I missed last year. We baked a blueberry cake, and made long braids of summer grasses to hang on the doors, decorated with marigolds and zinnias from the garden.

The cake had a little disaster story, because we meant to bake an Angel Food kind of cake. Rose was helping me, because she loves baking. The last time I made a cake like this I was in a big rush and my mom had given me a big jar of goodness-knows-how-many eggwhites, so I just eyeballed the whole recipe and baked it on the fly. It was for my sister-in-law’s birthday a few weeks ago, and it was delicious – fluffy, light and sweet.

This time, ironically, we measured everything exactly. However, Rose had only added half the dry ingredients to the meringue when it globbed up in to a boogery goo. We tried desperately to add different things to make it a cake-batter consistency. We gave up on the Angel Food idea and just tried to make something edible. The yolks went in, and cream, milk, more flour, and baking powder. We kept beating it up and it changed and stretched and became sometimes goopy, sometimes brick-like, but whatever we did, it never looked like cake batter should!

Finally the bowl of my standing mixer was about to overflow, and the way the batter looked as it was being stirred reminded us ominously of something sentient like the Blob, so we decided to call it done, throw some blueberries in, and hope we could stand whatever came out of the oven. It took several pans to fit all the batter.

While I was washing up, I noticed everything was strangely slimey, and couldn’t figure out why. The eggs? It was bizarre. When the cakes came out of the oven, we ate a few slices, and they tasted like blueberries and vanilla, but the texture was most definitely WRONG. Chewy, pasty, yucky. Like a cake made out of a giant tapioca pearl. Later I realized I had used guar gum we had bought for a Paleo recipe ages ago instead of wheat flour!

The pigs had to enjoy most of our blueberry cake, but we all had a good laugh.

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