Sharon September 19th, 2011
I’m finding myself not quite sure what to do with my free time. Ok, there isn’t *that* much of it, of course – after all there’s the farm, the homeschooling, the four kids, the house, the book, the work on the ASPO-USA conference and my role as a board member, a couple of miscellaneous articles to write, and some other odds and ends. Still, it does seem strange.
As you may remember, we lost pretty much all of our annual garden a few weeks ago when first Irene and then Lee hit the area. The squash rotted, the beans drowned, most of the apples blew down, the sunflowers blew over, the corn failed to mature, the potatoes succumbed momentarily to hideous fungal diseases. I’m not complaining – really, I’m not – so many people in my area suffered so much that there’s nothing to complain about. But it did leave me with a problem – just as peak preserving season hit, I had nothing to preserve. I still have some surviving tomatillos, but they aren’t mature yet, and the peaches made a crop, but those are put away. There are a few herbs left to dry, and some roots to dig from perennial herb crops like marshmallow and elecampane, but that’s about it – nothing compared to the usual burst of time and attention. Since most of the neighboring farms had the same problem, finding sources of produce to put up is also problematic – I should be able to fill the root cellar and get some fall raspberries for jam, but that may be about it.
There’s no fall garden – the storms hit in those critical few weeks after almost all the fall crops were in, and when it was too late to mature much of anything but spinach and arugula before winter. I’ve a small bed of each, but that’s pretty much it. The structure of the storms was to put a rapid end to the late summer workload.
Meanwhile, we had anticipated we’d probably have a foster placement by now (and it isn’t like the social workers can conjure one or like we really can wish some poor group of kids would lose their home) and all of a sudden, I’m at loose ends. Ok, they aren’t very loose – in fact, I should be working every second on my book. But, well, I’m not – and I can’t. During times when Eric is working, I could be preserving, but I couldn’t be off on the computer while the kids make mayhem.
Perhaps conveniently, I’ve been sick for a couple of weeks – nothing exciting, just a progression of minor viral things that lay me low. My theory is that they are trying to get me comfortable with sitting on my butt drinking tea and reading an novel – and I did some of that. It wasn’t as much fun as I remembered, though.
The problem, I’m finding, is that I’ve lost my taste for sitting around. Oh, in the evenings, after chores, sure. But after so many years of being so busy and working so hard, I find myself at loose ends. Sometimes it is nice – time for walks and snuggles with the boys and odd jobs I’ve been putting off. Some things get done better than before – my house is somewhat tidier, I cook more innovatively, my mending pile has shrunk, but let’s be honest – most of the time I’m just not desperate enough to clean or hem pants .
Instead, I find myself missing the structure of the dehydrator, wanting an herb drying room filled with boneset and peppermint. I long for curing squash and sweet potatoes and the work of digging turnips. I’m not sure why I miss these things – more leisure is a good thing, right? Some parts are nice, but what I’ve learned is that both body and mind long for the discipline and joy of farmwork – if I needed confirmation I love my life, when a portion of it was removed, it called out to me. Strange, but wonderful – to know that the dirt and I miss each other.