Settling in

This is the time of year for settling in. The wood stove clicks and creaks as the fire flickers inside, the animals are all contented to stay close to home and I have a renewed desire for baking. We all long to snuggle up and spend hours immersed in stories and games. Yet, like for most American families, this is not reality. It is the rare weekday that we see our homestead in the daylight. Now that we are settled into our home and life is fully established, our mornings are a lot less idealistic.

The alarm rings at 5:15. I grab a few moments to myself in the quiet house, to stretch and meditate. In the next room, the door to the stove creaks open, as Scott lights our morning fire. All too soon our day starts in earnest, with brothers laughing and wrestling upstairs as they get dressed and make their beds. After a few reminders, the boys bundle up in work gloves and jackets, boots and hats. Headlamps shining, they fill buckets of water and head out in the darkness to care for the animals.

Ready myself, I head into the kitchen to start breakfast. I start a pot of porridge in the stove, heat leftover soup and set out apples, some of Scott’s wonderful bread and cheese for lunches. I fill the thermoses with hot water to warm as everyone tumbles into the kitchen in various stages of ready for school. The whirlwind that follows is the usual family morning refrain: “I can’t find my sock!” “You can’t wear that to school!” “Don’t forget your glasses.” “We’re late. Let’s go!”

The boys wash up, then help with breakfast and lunches. Apples are sliced and put in containers. Bread is buttered, soup is ladled. Lunchboxes packed and closed. Maple syrup, fruit, milk, butter and nuts may be added to our porridge. Breakfast is packed into quart jars, wrapped in cloth napkins and put into a bag with spoons.

The ten last minute emergencies that emerge on any day are handled, then we finally make it to the car. Once everyone is settled, we serve. Napkins are unfolded on laps and we eat as the sun rises on the way to school.

The school day stretches before us, already a bit worn from the frantic elements of our morning. I have so many beautiful moments with the students that I teach, yet the day itself feels draining. The pace is quick, particularly around mealtimes, so we often don’t eat well, almost never mindfully. When we pull in to the driveway, after a day of teaching and meetings, often in the dark, regularly with sleeping boys in the back, we are both so exhausted it is hard to proceed.

Yet, there is much to be done. A fire to light animals to feed, homework and instrument practice, dinner to cook. Somewhere in there, family time, maybe some joy or laughter.

“Something has to change” has become a regular refrain.

We have adopted a lifestyle that is deeply nourishing, and involves every bit of our selves. Yet, our work at the school, also nourishing, demands the same. Our progress on our home has ground to a stop, for lack of time and money. The farm progresses bit by bit. It is simply not possible to push harder or do more, though that is exactly what we would like to do.

Something has to change. It is time to settle in, to embrace this life. Somehow, some way…

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