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Finding my "winter legs"

Seasonal life is a wonderful way to live. Each season brings its' own routine, tasks and purpose.  In addition the world around me has a different look and brings such joy, if I take the time to stop and enjoy it.  The asparagus poking through the dirt in early spring, is the promise that winter is coming to an end.  Spring also brings with it the busyness of garden preparation and getting those early veg planted such as green onions, potatoes and lettuce seeds.  Spring is the time to wake up from the slumber and slow pace of winter, it is kidding season (baby goats are born) too which is always fun, dramatic and lots of midnight barn checks and consequential lost sleep.  Summer is just plain busy, even manic at times, garden is in full swing which means weeding, keeping a constant eye out for when squash bugs arrive (note I say 'when' not 'if' they arrive) often two days late in noticing them can mean a lost crop.  Summer is also milking season, which has me up early each morning, summer is farmers' market season (this year I was making up to 240 bars of soap a week due to the overwhelming response at the market), also the human kids are out of school and then the heat of the summer arrives there is a general fight to maintain hydration and avoid heat fatigue or worse.  All of these elements add to a pretty crazy pace in the summer.

Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining, anyone who knows me will know I basically have one speed that I am comfortable with and that is full speed, I enjoy doing life at 100mph.  Those closest to me often advise me to take a break, slow down, remove some of my commitments etc. etc. My response usually sounds something life "no-one ever achieved greatness by taking a break" then I bustle off in a whirlwind.  Summer is busy, there is no other way to say it, I plan out each day hour by hour to be the most efficient I can be.  Days are usually 12-16 hours long, mostly working, they are highly productive and everyday ends when my body cannot go any longer.  I curl up on the sofa and make a list of things I could have, should have done and hope to squeeze them into the next day.  Dinners are usually something from the garden cooked as quick as possible with some meat (grilled by our resident chef extraordinaire, Mr Farm Sweet Farm) and a side of homemade bread, well I say homemade, it's sort of cheating because I use the breadmaker but at least it's not store bought!

Then fall arrives, this year has been a little reluctant to get going, with 70+ degree days and its almost December.  We have had the first frost which is the day I look forward to as the summer mayhem is in full swing.  The farmers market is over and the first frost announces the end of my big gardening season.  I still keep three raised beds going as long as I can with lettuce and some other basic fall crops, but they are largely unattended.  My husband and I got married in October and honeymooned in beautiful Tennessee into November, because of that I have an infinite amount of romance which it comes to leaves changing, the first inside fire of the season, sweaters, candles etc.

However, fall is a peculiar time for me, not a time of living 100mph, which is my comfort zone.  I guess what I am saying is it takes me a while to enjoy the slower pace that I had set as my goal as I sweated through another Oklahoma summer.  It's a little bit like when you have been on a boat at sea for a while then get back on land and your legs are a little shaky.  I have taken many long boat rides in my life, once I was on a ferry (a highly unglorifed cruise ship sized vessel) for 19 hrs.  I was travelling from Newcastle (England) to Hamburg (Germany).  During that time all I could do was look forward to the end of the journey, to have my feet on solid ground, a safe place of rest and peace.  Then when I stepped off the ferry, my feet are on solid ground, I met my goal, made it to the place of stillness, something happened, my body felt like it was still moving, the ground felt like it was swaying and I was still moving like the boat was.  My place of peace and stillness was not what I expected, I still had my "sea legs", my body had experiences that motion for so long it took a while for my brain to catch up to the stillness that was now my reality.

This is my experience of late fall; all the busyness of summer has caught up with me, I am ready to rest, I have the opportunity to rest but my brain takes a while to adjust and get my "winter legs" working.  Fall is a time of major adjustment, a time to slow done in increments, I like it and I don't like it.  A lot of cupboards get tided, winter projects lists are made and a bedroom may or may not have been remodeled :) all in the wrestle of the fall slow down.  I usually give in right as the official day of winter approaches and fully embrace the relaxing time of Christmas.  As December 21st rolls around I have found my "winter legs" and I am ready to enjoy the food we put up for winter, I start to bake, get caught up on some inside projects, oh and the best bit...my kids have their mama back and my mama guilt subsides for a while as I take the time to bake with my kids, read extra stories and talk, talk, talk and talk with them.  When my winter legs are working I do not stop and sit down for three months, I could never do that but my hourly to do list changes to a weekly list and I live, love, and enjoy each day as it slowly passes by.


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