Call me stodgy, but I don’t typically blog without a good reason.
I’m not one of those bloggers who fills her blog posting “schedule” (whatever that is) with fluffy posts merely meant to take up space and keep my blog “current”.
I don’t sit at my computer, pondering appropriate topics for the time of year and re-write what everyone else has already written about. Of course, that’s not to say that I am the first to write an article about any given topic- as it has all been done before- but you won’t find me writing anything with the sole purpose of putting my blog at the top of your feed for the morning.
I’m more of a blogger who, when I have something useful to share that I think others might benefit from, I write about it.
But today, I just felt like writing. It may be that it is only I who reads it, or maybe my sister as she claims she reads most of my blog posts. Whether that’s true or not, I can’t be certain. She did, afterall, as a child purposely lose at Monopoly just so I would keep playing with her. So she may just be saying that so I keep blogging while she secretly laughs at me. It could easily be one or the other.
Actually, I’m pretty sure she’s laughing at me now.
Nevertheless, you are forewarned that I do not have anything tangibly useful for you today. Only my thoughts.
As I reflect on the recent close of our maple syrup season, I’m reminded of the many “seasons” in my life.
There is a constant changing of seasons outside of the four major ones that we experience here. These seasons come and go with a mixture of excitement, exhaustion, and always- when they have passed- a bit of sadness. I feel that sugaring season comes at that perfect, quiet time of year when the earth is just starting to wake up. Slowly, in a way that mostly goes unnoticed unless you are watching the weather’s every move as it dictates both the start and finish of the syrup making world. Much in the same way that a gardener watches the forecast for frost.
Yes, I see the awakening around me. A new season has begun. And I’m not talking spring. But rather the endurance race that really begins in the latter part of April, and ends in December.
We begin with a refreshing jog at the start. It’s a joy to see the snow begin to melt, to roll up our sleeves and get out under the 40-degree sun to start building new garden beds (and to start shedding our winter weight, which my mom always says is necessary to keep us warm in this cold part of the world. I say it’s a product of the need to keep our house warm, which means I do far too much baking, which in turn means far too much eating, and so on it goes).
The past 6 months’ worth of animal bedding gets shoveled out and spread on the gardens. It’s a back-breaking event, but I welcome it. It feels good to work. It feels good to see the days getting longer and to go to bed completely exhausted, every muscle aching. I like that the physical demands of maple syrup season prepares me for these days. Who needs a gym, anyhow?
This is also the time of year when we start setting our sights on planting and on babies.
Animal babies, that is. Springtime means chicks, turkey poults, bunnies, piglets. So much cuteness. Nothing is quite like that feeling of being overloaded with fluffy and fuzzy and curious little youngsters. They mean new life. A new season. New growth. And so much noise.
New fencing goes up, old comes down. We will certainly be clearing the brush on our property until the end of time. I love it and hate it. Mostly hate it. But I do love to see progress and dream so many dreams. What it will someday be. Someday when it is not simply a tangled ugly mess of stumps and branches and more stumps. Someday when it is pasture filled with sheep and cows and pigs. Someday there will be tree swings and benches for sitting on, to enjoy the view. That is, when and if there ever comes a time when we can just sit. For now, I sit and relax only in those dreams.
For now, I move through the seasons, their passing all too quickly.
The end of June and beginning of July is the pretty time. When everything is green and growing. When the garden is planted and established, free of the threat of frost. When the lilacs are blooming. When the scrap piles and wood piles and all those other piles are now hidden beneath forest growth, giving the false appearance of our having our crap together. Which I assure you we do not. But it’s kinda fun to look that way sometimes. June and July are forgiving in this way. April is not.
July is when we spend every spare moment at the lake with the kids. When we have bonfires every night. Or brush fires, let’s be honest. But we roast marshmallows nonetheless. And Gunner, our middle child, spends his evenings chopping down balsam trees with the machete and feeding them to the fire. When Wyatt, the oldest, puts up yet another “bear hunting spot” in the woods, leaving me to wonder where all of our chairs have gone. And Aspen, the youngest, spends her days in bare feet, running everywhere with the poor cat in tow. This is when I look at my kids and see how summer should be. This is when I really wish this season did not pass by so quickly.
It’s toward the end of July and beginning of August that I start to feel this race really start to pick up. We’re harvesting and canning. Blueberry picking. Raspberry picking. Making jams and jellies and juices and pie fillings. Curing garlic. Making wine. Panicking because I feel summer slipping through my fingers, and as a result drinking said wine. When Josh starts bear baiting mid-month, that is when reality really sinks in. Bear season begins as the calendar flips over to September, Josh starts guiding, and I have to take a deep breath. It’s the only one I’m going to get for a few months.
Bear season turns into the season of animal harvesting here. Last year we processed 11 turkeys, 5 pigs, 5 ducks, 2 lambs, 1 bear, 1 deer, several grouse, too many rabbits. Most of this was done in the fall to early winter, the most brutal and exhausting and rewarding stretch of this race. This is the meat season. When we finally reap the benefits of months of hard work. When we are so dirty and exhausted and every muscle aches and we’re just so sick of the sight and smell of death. And yet, we love it all the same. Our hearts and bellies are so full. Overwhelmed with gratitude for this life that we live. This hard, taxing life that is traveled by the many seasons within. Seasons that are dictated by the choices we have made to live as we do. It is not exactly the same as anyone else’s, but it is ours.
So whatever seasons you yourself go through, enjoy them. Document them. Reflect on them. And when they’re hard, don’t hate them too much.
Unless you’re hauling brush.
In that case, hate away.
But never miss out on the rewards each season leaves behind.
See you next time, my friends.