Best Advice Yet


Every morning now, the first thing is fire. There are mornings we could go without, but I’m in the habit, and I like the habit. It’s dark when I get up and sometimes I just sit in the dark for a while, feet up on the part of the cookstove that doesn’t get too hot to have my feet up on it. Sitting in the dark’s ok, especially if you’ve got your calloused heel skin resting on piece of warm iron. Especially if you can hear your coffee bubbling on the stove top.

I think there’s too much artificial light in this world. I think it messes with us. I think that the privilege of starting a fire and sitting in the dark and then cooking your breakfast over that fire  – this morning, fried potatoes and onion, spinach and grated beets, a mess of eggs and bacon – is something worth fighting for. Or maybe “fighting for” isn’t quite right (and besides, I’m as weary of the battle mantra as anyone. Seems like all we do is fight things anymore). Maybe what I mean is that it’s worth bending your life however it needs to be bent in order to accommodate it. Yeah, that’s it: Bend your life however it needs to be bent so that you might have the privilege of starting a fire and sitting in the dark with your calloused heel skin on the part of the stove that doesn’t get too hot to have your calloused heel skin on it.

Damn. Two paragraphs in and already I’ve dispensed the best advice yet to be dispensed on this blog.

I think I’ll quit while I’m ahead.








23 thoughts on “Best Advice Yet”

  1. Awesome. When I read your brief postings, I find myself thinking what my younger Grandparents and Parents experienced in Vermont. Simple lives filled with hard rewarding work.

  2. Mr. Hewitt (I was going to start with ‘Ben’, but then remembered that in this social media age where I feel like I ‘know’ you, you don’t know me from boo, so respectfully… ‘Mr. Hewitt’ it is.),
    I greatly enjoy reading all of your posts and often wish to tell you so, so today decided I would. I also want to say, I understand. I don’t think I’ve read anything that I didn’t ‘understand’ yet. And please understand that I am not saying this out of some sort of silly arrogance, but rather, hopefully, for your encouragement. I am very tempted to ramble on in further explanation but for the benefit of us both I will leave it at that and end with a simple ‘Thank you’, I greatly enjoy and look forward to reading your posts, warts and all. 🙂

  3. You are a very honest and gifted writer. I didn’t read your post yesterday, but I could relate. I just deleted my post from yesterday too as I felt it was too much of “oh, where did the time go”, and if only I coulda blogged in the 70’s about living on the land, simplicity, yada, yada, ya… I be rich by now. So, I deleted it. Of course, we didn’t have the internet in the 1970’s so I guess it’s all relative.
    I think your living off the land and raising your sons in the manner you do is pretty terrific. And you’re walking the talk.

  4. What you write here, Ben, reminds me of something Ben Franklin once wrote:

    “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

  5. We also start our days with a fire in our wood cook stove! I find it to be worth every extra minute of work. I love the gathering of the wood, the splitting of the wood, the stacking of the wood, and the starting of the fires. We also cook most meals on it, 9 months of the year. I live in Northern Idaho, but grew up in Southern Vermont with Skye Chlamers! I appreciate what you do and thank you for making me take a closer look at the daily decisions we make on our property and with our family.

  6. Wise words, methinks. Love our woodstove, though I wish it had a viewing window. I recently read some comments by Heather at Beauty That Moves about your book due out in the spring. Can’t wait to read it!

  7. Bacon, eggs, home fried potatoes and onion I can relate to, but spinach and grated beets on the grill would be something totally new to me.

  8. Incidentally, the quote mentioned is from the Bible. Ben Franklin may have said it but he borrowed it from the best of authors. ~smile

  9. In seeing so many new commenters on the blog, and all their lovely thoughts – what about a forum? Seems folks need to talk about your lightening bug-like thoughts you toss out into the ether. Does that generate cha-ching? I really don’t know what I’m talking about, but just thought if you wrote your blog, disabled comments, and opened a forum (with the sponsorship there and others moderating), would that catch two birds?

  10. We built our house purposely with lots of windows so we could get by with as little artificial light as possible. Come to think of it, we don’t even have lamps in most of the rooms so its dark now (and getting darker) this time of year. I love to sit with my sleepy-eyed boys and watch the sun wake up before we head out to do chores. I haven’t quite mastered going to bed earlier in the cold months but I know I feel better when I make even an attempt to sleep and wake more in tune with the natural light cycles. Thanks for the thoughts!

    1. Education of Little Tree, when the early morning glow would begin to show in the east, his grandfather would say to him ” it’s coming alive”.
      I hear you Ben and farmchick, don’t like to miss that…

  11. I tell people, i go to bed with the chickens and get up with the eggs. Best to sleep with it very dark, the body does a lot of repair work during sleep. For older folks like me a little melatonin is good, older bodies just don’t perform in making substances as well as before.

  12. Much has been written about the dangers of inhaling wood smoke, but I guess it’s not all that serious unless it’s indoors and the place is poorly ventilated.

    Just throwing that out there for consideration. Anyway, I like the idea of reducing my use of artificial light. My wife and I very much wish to bend our lives in the direction of simplicity and nature, but it’s sort of ironic that financial troubles keep us from doing so. You have to have money in order to escape the monetary system. At least where we live on the expensive west coast near the ocean where my seasonal allergies are much more tolerable and our family members live. And where our jobs that pay the bills are.

    1. If you’re smelling smoke (more than a puff when you reload anyway) in the house when burning in a wood stove, you’re doing something wrong.

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