Tag Archiv: time

Last Notes of Autumn

fall 2014 107

We’re squeezing out the last joys of fall while winter whispers that its coming. The smell of the leaves is fainter but not gone. The sound of my sneakers on the path still sings with leaves crunching underneath and brushing against each other.

This year’s fire wood has been drying for at least a year. Next year’s wood is being split and stacked. We’re using the wood stove, but it’s not even close to the continual feeding of wood and blazing fires that winter will bring. Black winter jackets have gone on the bee hives and mouse guards have been tacked across their bottom entrances. Little by little, we’re battening down the hatches and getting ready.

Rumors of rising electricity bills have me dreaming again of hanging my clothes on the line all winter. I’ve learned from experience to commit in smaller chunks. Nothing like a whole season weighing on my shoulders to make me give up before I start. Ergo, I’m hoping to hang the clothes all winter, but I’m only promising one additional load to the one that just went up on the line. If I make it to the end of December, I get a party. If I make it to the end of January, I get an entire day off. It may be cheaper to run the dryer than to get my just desserts if I make it to the end of February.

I have a sense of accomplishment this week. We made it to the end of birthday season. All kids dutifully celebrated. All details of figuring when and what and with whom are past. Memories of overwhelming are melded together in the shape of a birthday cake. Fuzzy. Like the feeling most people get after a few glasses of wine. Or that I get after a swallow.

Pudding cakes were the big hit this year. They require a cake, a wooden spoon to poke holes all over it, and some fresh homemade pudding to pour into the holes and all over the top. Fun while they lasted, but I’m not sure I’ll make another one before Christmas. Maybe not until Easter. Who knows. Who cares. They’re officially all clocked in now at 6, 9, 11, and 14. For another year, it’s over.

Oblivious to its role as an illusion, time, like the seasons, dependably marches on.

Windows of Time and Tea

Interior in the North of Holland tea-time. By Sipke Kool. Found on Wikigallery

Interior in the North of Holland tea-time. By Sipke Kool

Monday I invited a friend to tea. She wore a purple sweater. Deep tones that matched her long and flowing skirt. I’d forgotten that people dress for tea, but it wouldn’t have mattered. There was something about her seventy year old self I couldn’t have matched anyways.

Our farm’s not perfect, but most days we like it, I said.

Nothing down here is perfect, she said.

We talked about everything. Schools. Kids. The value of memorizing. Farms. Babies that die. Far away countries. Cows and milk production. Thirteen liters a day was a very good milk cow when she was young. Now the cows give forty liters a day. What have they done to the cows? We discussed the effects of poison and growth hormones for plants, animals and humans. Wondered about the best chickens for meat. Talked about when things go too far. When we forget we can’t control everything so we kill ourselves trying.

She told me of someone she knew who cared deeply about her home. Someone wanted to visit with her child who was in a wheelchair. No, the woman said. The wheels cannot come in the house. They will be too dirty.

That cannot be right, she said.

I told her my failed dreams of adoption, my thoughts about foster care someday. I talked about my piano teacher, Mrs. Murdoch. How strict she was, how much I hated her until I loved her and realized how lucky I was to have her.

My kids’ piano teacher was strict, she said. They didn’t mind her. I think they were used to strict with me so there was no difference. Some people didn’t like her, but I was strict and I wasn’t changing. That’s how I was. So they were used to it.

She shared my tea, overlooked the shortcomings of my presentation and gave me the gift of slow time together. She probably had clay feet hidden under the table, but I couldn’t see them. What I saw was her heart. Full up with tears. Courage. Love. Determination. And each of these in such abundance it left me quiet with wonder.

What a gift the moments when, however dimly or however briefly, we really see each other.

 

 

Telling Time

file3781234627947I haven’t had much use for watches in recent years. Having nothing on my wrist has been preferable to having something. I balk at the stranglehold that seconds and minutes seem to have on us. Arbitrary designations to which we’ve given the power to judge the value of people.

A little more than a year ago, my paternal grandmother died. Set aside for me was a Bulova watch, a gift given to her by my grandfather. The watch was pretty but simple, not too big, and it didn’t have a clasp to scratch at my wrist. I liked it. It sat in my top drawer declaring the wrong time for a year, while I vacillated between mild interest and pining.

I know what I want for Christmas, I said to my husband finally. Take that watch to town and see if they still make batteries to fit it. Christmas morning, I unwrapped the watch. No battery required, you wind it, the jeweler had explained. My heart leapt the way it does when something that is old moves into my life. The love affair was official now. I began to wear a watch.

My grandmother was a woman who tried very hard. People who loved her have mixed feelings about her and usually a lot of them. Some of what people admired about her was about how hard she tried. To love God, to be a good person. I don’t know if she succeeded in these worthy goals. It isn’t mine to judge. The impact of the hurt and anger that she carried has echoed loudly through the generations. I look at my wrist and consider the painful parts of legacy. Why I wonder, am I wearing her watch?

Am I ignoring the emotional swaths cut into those she loved? Does it matter, I ask myself, how much you love Jesus, if your self-imposed burden to get everyone else to love him too, and the fear that you might fail makes you cruel and unkind?

Grandma’s flaws I do not deny. Despite my generous rending of their mention, few who knew her would approve my noting them at all. But I loved her. I still do.

I am not unlike my grandmother. Sometimes I look in the mirror and think I am turning into her (sadly minus the ample bosom). The watch on my wrist is a gift of lessons. My flesh and blood, so in need of the mercy she was unable to offer, wore this watch. I will wear it, and people that I love will fail. They will fail themselves, and they will fail me too. My first reactions one through twenty will be a defense of offense. Choose mercy, my watch says.  Stop keeping tallies. Be the woman who forgets what she can and forgives the rest.

The Misty saga

We don’t get things for the farm that we can’t eat. Pigs not fun anymore? The freezer awaits. We aren’t in France, so horses have been out. Until this year. Somehow a burning desire to give kids a great birthday equalled Misty. You really haven’t lived until you have picked up kids from school, driven them home and sent them to the barn to meet the horse they thought they were never getting.

Besides in-edibility, I didn’t want a horse because they’re scary. My research said that our kids would be able care for the horse themselves, so I put this aside. Even more compelling is the common knowledge that pioneer children raised ponies unaided from the age of 6 or 7, but I didn’t depend on history. I did research.

Here’s what the research did  and did not mention . . .

1. Thirteen year olds can take care of horses . . . if they have grown up with horses, understand them, and are comfortable taking authority when the horse disagrees.

2. Ten year olds can do a lot . . . if they don’t develop sudden onset terror of horses and refuse to leave the house on threat of torture or a trip to Goodwill to donate all their Lego.

3. You’d be surprised what an eight year old can do. . . you’d be surprised too, how contagious that sudden onset stuff is.

4. Five year olds can’t do much. I agree.

We had a choice. Give up on the best birthday present ever or get re-enforcements. This is how it stopped working that I only saw the horse from the kitchen sink.

Learning and working with thirteen year old is showing me a new side of him. We’ve never done anything like this together. We listen to advice from horse people, then try to apply it with Misty. He needs me, but he can do things I can’t. There’s nothing to argue about because we’re on the same team. More than anyone else, it is he and I that are spending the hours. Seven or eight extra hours in a week is a sacrifice for me, but it is for him too, and he isn’t complaining, so neither am I.

Eight year old was back on board the second I got involved. And she can do more than you’d think. Ten year old was delivered grumbling to mandatory horse lesson this weekend. Yesterday he helped with Misty for twenty minutes. This equals previous compliance times ten.

The hardest part, I tell my husband, is leading team horse, when I’m still afraid of horses.

You’re afraid of Misty? That’s so funny. She doesn’t bother me at all.

Says the man who only has to look at her in the field from fifty feet away because we need his time to do other things.

Originally, that was supposed to be my job.