Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gratitude

Thanksgiving has become somewhat of an orphan among holidays.  I suppose that makes sense in a culture where most holidays now center on some sort of purchase or travel.  In this context, a holiday that focuses on being thankful for what one already has isn’t particularly useful.  So the frenzy to buy pumpkins, costumes, and candy for Halloween quickly phases to displays of Christmas Trees, glittering lights, and commercials suggesting that one’s love for a person is directly related to how much one spends on them.
I find I resent this attitude that one should never be content with what one has.  We have very little in the way of material things, but I find such joy and contentment in our lifestyle.  Had we chosen a more typical American way of life, I would miss so much.  By leaving behind the clutter of modern existence, we have made room for so many other pleasures.  Every morning I walk out into the fragrant air and the goats joyfully call greetings to me.  The purring cats twine around my feet in a shameless bid for attention.  Often there is a shy deer in the trees and the squirrels scold from branches far too small to hold them.  As I walk in to a warm home after morning chores, fire crackling in the stove and with a jar of rich creamy milk, I realize I am wealthy indeed.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

From Scratch

We finally got the wheat grinder bolted to the counter.  This meant I needed to actually grind wheat.  For anyone who hasn’t done this, grinding wheat into fine flour is hard work.  I never feel guilty for heaping butter on the savory bread I’ve baked from such flour. 

As I push and pull at the grinder’s smooth wooden handle, listening to the rhythm of the burs turning and feeling the effort in my arms and legs, I think about how much I take for granted.  While we almost never buy bread, I often make it from store bought flour.  I scoop out cups of the perfectly white, scentless powder and dump it in the bowl without thought.  Such bread only smells of the yeast used to make it light.  How different from the flour I’ve ground myself.  Each fragrant cup, speckled tan with wheat bran, seems precious.  The dough smells of the earth, rich and yeasty.  Of course whatever I use home-ground in tastes better, but I’m not sure if it’s the fresh flour or the appreciation I have for it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Milking by Moonlight

The time changed this week.  Milking time is now long after sunset, so I must milk in the dark.  There are many phases of dark at Thistleglade, ranging from the inky blackness of a moonless night to the shadowy silvers of the full Moon.  Each darkness brings its own essence and magic to Thistleglade and I go out with no light of my own to fully appreciate the beauty of the night.
I have enjoyed milking under the full Moon this week.  Under her light, the bare trees are once again shrouded in mystery and the shadows shift over secrets waiting to be discovered.  Dry leaves rustle in the slightest breeze and sparkle in the silvery light.  A small puddle becomes an enchanted mirror one merely has to touch to be transported to another world. 
In the dimness, sight becomes less important and the other senses expand.  As I sit on my milking stool, I notice the warmth of Tinkerbell’s smooth hide against my left cheek and the coolness of the night air on my other.  The smell of her fills my nostrils, animal but not unpleasant, along with the sweet smell of fresh milk as it squirts in the jar with ringing tones.  The cat sits on my knee hoping I'll miss, his heavy warmth accompanied with the pricking of his claws as he balances on a space too small for him.  The sounds of purring cat and munching goat blend with the rhythm of milking, creating a kind of music while the full Moon smiles down on us all.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Growing Up

Clara is being weaned this week and she’s terribly unhappy about it.  Her whole world has changed in the space of a day.  She has always spent her days with Tinkerbell, enjoying the safety and comfort of her presence and sustained by her rich milk.  But Clara is now old enough to feed herself and nurses as much for comfort as anything.  It is time for her to grow up.  As I listen to her calls and watch her desperately try to nurse her mother through the fence, it strikes me that I have often been just as unwilling to accept changes in my life.
I suppose it is in the nature of all of us to fight growing up.  After, who would willing leave the blissful carelessness that most of us enjoyed during our childhood.  As a child, I lived each day for that day only, unable to imagine the complexities I am expected to grasp as an adult.  The world was a good place and my small troubles were keenly felt, but quickly forgotten.  Each moment brought a new adventure and the future was a shining beacon before me.
How does one measure such an intangible idea as growing up?  I believe growing up requires the willingness to do what is hard when one has the opportunity of an easier course.  It is to take the right path even when it is but a rocky trail and everyone else travels easily on the interstate.  It is to accept the price of your awareness may be discomfort and loss. 
So am I now grown up?  Perhaps I have just set my foot on that rocky trail…