There is no doubt, now, that the balance of the year has indeed tipped. While the customary snow of this northern clime has yet to show itself, the nights are dark and the mornings frosty. Frosty is wildly preferable to snowy and, strangely, preferable to the milder weather we’ve experienced this November. With mildness comes rain and with rain…mud. I can’t say I’m sorry to have moved past ankle deep slop, in favour of firm and crunchy frost underfoot.
Without too much effort we meet the sunrise each day, something I would never endeavour to accomplish in the summer. The air is cold and fresh, increasingly I feel the need to wrap up against it, knowing that even a short delay can lead to feeling very cold indeed. Anyone who did not know me well (or at all) might be forgiven for thinking I am the sort that likes to be up and at life, springing from beneath the duvet with bags of vim and slippers full of vigour. They would be so wrong, so spectacularly wrong, that they would be in heavy contention for the Most Wrong You Can Be About Anything award and have full confidence of walking away with the prize.
In truth I’d happily remain in bed for around a week at a time, dining upon bed appropriate foods such as soft boiled eggs and jam tarts with tea. I would wear bed jackets, bed socks and, not to put too fine a point on it, a sew in sleeping bag with a hood if I thought I could get away with it. But life is not organized to accommodate by bed addiction and so, each day, I drag myself reluctantly from the joys of my memory foam mattress and head out into the world. As I stand by the garage door I always give a little sigh to myself and a pause, a moment in which someone can cry to me “Emmalina! There has been a mistake! Please return to your bed, it turns out that chickens are fully able to look after themselves now. Frankly we are all embarrassed for the misunderstanding.” The voice has yet to come, but I pause anyway.
But, once I’ve trekked out to the chickens (now cosily snuggled with the Muscovy ducks we are keeping to breed from next year) the fresh air has done it’s work. By the time I wander over to meet Stephen in the cow field I am awake enough to spend 10 minutes discussing the sex life of our pigs (I’m telling you, it never gets old) and chat about some farm related thoughts of one type or another.
The list of tasks is getting shorter now, as the cold weather has closed down the last of the garden, leaving me with garden related longing until spring. The ducks went to slaughter last week, the pigs went a few days after that. On Sunday the last of our piglets were sold and we took advantage of the solid ground and moved our Large Black Boar, Arthur to reunite with his lady love; unencumbered by mothering duties, she can now focus on the man in her life. We’re hoping for a nice litter of little piggles in early spring.
The cow field is solid underfoot for the first time in months and there was frost on their coats this morning. Our bottle fed calf (the little guy in the pic above) is on his last month of milk before he’s old enough to enjoy just hay along with the other cows. It’s one of the last tasks that we’ll be ticking off before Christmas as we wind down into our winter schedule, where maintenance is the goal along with minimum outside time. With the wood all cut and split, the freezers full and the major tasks of the season completed, we can finally take a breath and begin to enjoy some leisure time.
When Stephen designed this house, he planned that the winter solstice sun would set in the window opposite the kitchen counter. I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen and, as the nights draw in so early, the world outside can seem far away. But then, as I’m cooking at the stove or popping trays in the oven, I’ll look up. The scorching display across the afternoon sky will capture my whole attention and I’ll stop. For a moment, or a few minutes, I’ll step away from what I’m doing and look. Perhaps I’ll step out into the cool air and snap a picture or two of the luminous clouds, of the burning disc snagged for a brief second in the branches of a leafless tree.
In that moment, I’m grateful for this season and for this special time of year. I’m grateful for the sun burned skies, the blackened night littered with stars, the frost coating and ice cover of morning. Soon the snow will come, turning the world monochrome until the spring reclaims it. For now, we enjoy this chance to pause and, if we’re lucky, to rest a little.