Friday, November 5, 2010

Taking Stock, Making Stock, Stocking Up

‘Tis November and the leaves participate full swing in the pageantry of fall’s display, yet the praying mantis waddle around in a swollen state seeking to lay an egg sac more than a month or two later than usual. Odd. The jewel-toned trees sway and dance in summer-like days of clear blue skies filled with a warmth that invites us to dine out of doors in November. Strange? Or a gift? The plethora of tidying up chores in the garden have become easier in the languid summer-ish afternoons, but absent the crispness of true autumn hints I find myself unmotivated to prune, plant, or rake. We haven’t christened November with a bonfire to burn the twigs of the past year whilst we roast potatoes and eat “hobo stew” wrapped in foil and nestled amongst the vibrant coals. And where’s the fun of roasting a gooey marshmallow on a warm afternoon?

Butterflies flutter, hummingbirds hum; children lose themselves in a web of beauty and delight among the blooming flowers and the buzzing bees. Did the calendar get flipped prematurely? Why do I feel caught off guard every time I walk up the pathway to the front door and see scarecrows and fat buttery pumpkins lying so abundantly at the threshold? Who wants to count beans and wheat sacks? Who feels like accounting the remains of the pantry before listing the needs of a large family with plans to eat regularly through the winter months? Not me, it seems.

While Elizabeth fills in her farm journal with the many details of raising and harvesting from our lands and hands, I linger over a summery read of sailing from Toronto to Grenada and back again. The balmy prose and tropical menus found therein set me to thinking of mangoes and fresh conch on a beach rather than stews and pot au feu simmering gently through a snowy afternoon. I have yet to replace my fluttery skirts of summer with the denims and such to ward off the chill. Though I recently bought several pair of cute leggings and footless tights for that extra bit of warmth, I haven’t even cracked the packages yet.

I want to suspend myself in a bit more sweet repose framed in days of simple salads and filmy afternoons that reach forward into the eve with an ease that gives me freedom. Maybe freedom is the key. I freed myself of many “musts” and “shoulds” this summer. I filled copious journals with leavings and leftovers that needed a final resting place so that I could dance without added burdens. Life holds enough weight just in the daily doings in the bosom of a family, not to mention the ongoings beyond the garden gates; thus I needed to “lighten up” and “let in the light” where cobwebbing held the dust. I guess you could say I had a summer of spring cleaning and now I want to dance in the lightened space before the clouds of winter bring me inside for winter’s dance. Funny . . . I usually beg for relief from summer’s heat and anxiously await the first frosty flakes of winter. Not so this year . . .

But, life demands attention, or so it seems as the two little roosters from last spring’s clutch prance around and spar with every intention of “taking on” Bob for premium rights. The laws of nature and animal husbandry demand a reduction of leadership. Elizabeth’s course of study compelled her to carry out the necessary tasks assisted by a friend in search of natural education. I settled in to my own education, reading up on the proper procedure for preparing chicken feet for stock. Who would have thought that those prehistoric looking parts could yield such luscious culinary results? But I digress . . . At day’s end we gathered at table and celebrated another milestone in Elizabeth’s education. Not quite like having cake and tea after a harp performance, but the glow of achievement looked the same on her pretty face. Goals set, challenges faced, knowledge gained . . . education as it should be . . . acquired for life.
As we gather this year’s memories like ripened fruit we celebrate life lived and life dreamed of. As we take stock of the pantry we see what has been eaten and what lies waiting to be the makings of tomorrow’s celebrations. (Yes Rachel, that lone can of squash puree can become something to celebrate.) “Each day has something to be celebrated,” I sing out to my children every day. (Yes, they roll their eyes and smile.) Sometimes only a simple dish of chocolate squares passes from hand to hand around the table as we smile and savor its sweetness in the midst of sorrows or pain, but we did, indeed, find some sweetness in a day to celebrate together. I know not all days are sunny, but I have learned that the sunshine we store up in our pantry can see us through the tough times. (It sounds cliché, but that makes it no less true.)

And so we will continue to do autumn’s chores despite the carefree dressing of another summer-like day and the call to play, which has become a SHOUT around here as we prepare for my sister’s arrival late tonight. After a couple of days celebrating around here we will pack up a few summery items and take our celebrating ways to Disneyland early next week. I can hardly wait! Our months of planning and anticipation wind down to just a few more hours . . . just a little longer. How will I ever manage today’s chores?

So, I will be gone for a time of play but will return with more to share, more to celebrate, more to dance about. I will be stocking up on as many smile-worthy memories as my heart can carry. When I return I will also be wending my way around the blogdom “finding” you all again – yes, FINDING, as my newly revived computer received a new browser which came with an empty space where all my blogs used to reside. GRRRRRR! Those of you who left comments have left a trail to your place – bless you. The rest of you must be found the old-fashioned way. A nice blustery day would afford much opportunity for my fingers to do the walking, but as I have already said, we’re still enjoying summer. Enough said. I’m off to vacuum, count, and PACK!!!

See you later . . . : D


FancyHorse said...

Well, I'm leaving a comment so you can find me!

We're feeling a nip of cold down here in south Alabama - they say it's going down to the 30s tonight! The coldest it's been yet this season.

Tricia said...

Enjoy the warmth while it lasts. We are having uncharacteristically warm days as well. I just wish I could be outside to enjoy it a bit more. Oh well. An open window and a chair in the sunshine will have to do. May God bless you and those you love.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I think every blogger has to take time to BE from time to time before they can write about anything. :)