More Than I Deserve
September 19, 2013 § 18 Comments
The first hard frost arrived a few nights ago. When I awoke in the half-dark of predawn, the pasture was white and luminescent under the late moon. I kindled a fire in the cookstove and stood by the open door of the firebox, ostensibly waiting for enough light to see my way through chores. But of course I could have seen just fine; the truth was the truth whispered by all fires on all cold mornings: Stay. Stay. So I stayed.
It has been nice to abandon this space for a few days. Much has happened in the intervening week: I took a two-day long chainsaw/tree felling course known as Game of Logging, and for those of you inclined toward such antics, I highly recommend it. I have been using chainsaws for the majority of my adult life, which in truth only means that I have been establishing dangerous and wasteful habits for most of my adult life, skating by on a smidge of common sense, an inflated sense of my capabilities, and a whole passel of good luck, a trifecta that probably applies to more of my pursuits than I care to admit.
What else? Nate returned from three weeks in Minnesota, where he’d established a “rice camp” and harvested a preposterous quantity of wild rice. 450-pounds, if I’m not mistaken. Anyway, he happened to return the evening after I’d gathered a few pounds of premium chanterelle and hedgehog mushrooms and furthermore had set out a leg of lamb to thaw and so we feasted in a manner fit for kings: Piles of buttered wild rice, smoky and tender, a pan of wild mushrooms cooked in fresh butter, and of course the lamb, the fat crisped to perfection, the delicate flesh cooked just enough to be considered cooked. I think we ate some vegetables, too; indeed, I’m sure of it, but this is a season of plant matter abundance to the extent that they become almost unmemorable. Oh, another fresh tomato? What, more green beans? And so on.
Ah, except corn, which is coming in hard, now, and is quite memorable indeed, if only for its fleeting nature. Soon it will be gone, but last night we ate corn and only corn for dinner, four fat ears for each of us, the boys’ faces shiny with butter and flecked with yellow. (Ok, so Penny’s and my faces were shiny with butter and flecked with yellow, too)
We are ready for winter. The woodshed is full. The pantry is full. The cows are fat and bred. The pigs are merely fat, 300-or more pounds each of walking sausage. The hay barn is full. The freezers are full. I have made 105-pounds of butter and strongly suspect I’ll hit 150 by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. Soon, the root cellar will be full: Potatoes, carrots, beets, kimchi, applesauce, green beans, sausages, and so on and so forth.
In a sense, this is what we have been working toward all summer, although it is always a little surprising to me to see the tangible and literal fruits of our labors, the rows of jars, the stacks of wood and lumber, the packages of steaks and burger and chops, the bales of hay to be fed out one-by-by-by-one. Honestly, it always makes me feel like I’m getting away with something: You mean I get to do the work and I get all this? One or the other seems fair, it’s plenty, it is all I could dare ask for. But to be blessed with both? Sometimes, it just plain feels like more than I deserve.