Always Gambling

A surprise squall in the aftermath of the great Christmas thaw of 2020, and again the ground is covered. Four, maybe even five-inches, that magical cold snow, what I call snow globe snow because it looks exactly like what you’d image snow would look like if you’d only ever seen it in picture books. Fluffy. Big flakes. In the aftermath of the squall, I walk in the woods, scouting firewood. It’s almost impossibly pretty.

I dream I’m on an airplane that’s about to take off, and I realize suddenly that I’m the only person not wearing a mask. I don’t have one with me, and it’s too late to find one; the seat belt sign has been illuminated for my safety, the flight attendants have completed their final cabin check, and are settling into their seats. I start to panic, and then something shifts, and I’m able to relax and actually begin looking forward to that moment when the plane begins to accelerate for take off. I remember loving that moment as a child whenever we’d fly to visit my grandparents. Truth be told, it still gives me a little thrill.

When I drive, I look at people’s faces. This is what I miss most, just seeing people’s faces. The creases in their cheeks, the smile lines, the crooked teeth. I haven’t seen a good mustache in months. We’re fortunate, I know, for where we live, how we live. I don’t have to wear a mask but a handful of times each week, and even then, only for as long as necessary to do my business. It wasn’t until about two weeks ago that I finally worked through my stash of old construction masks, the ones I’ve had since back when you wore a mask for reasons other than the virus.

People say our lives will never be the same, but I’m not convinced. I imagine the virus will eventually pass, or we’ll learn to live with it, add it to the list of necessary risks we’ve learned to accept or simply ignore. We’re always gambling. We just don’t always realize it.

For those of you who keep coming back to this space – many of you for many years now – thank you. I often think I’m going to get back to posting more often, but that doesn’t seem to happen. Maybe this year it will, maybe not. Either way, thank you all for reading and Happy New Year.

51 thoughts on “Always Gambling”

  1. password “incorrect” as always      any advice?    new password supposed to be coming to my inbox, but nothing yet

  2. Hi Ben,
    I enjoy your writings enormously. Am very happy each time I find one in my in-box. More would be nice, but like this it’s also perfect.
    Enjoy the snow!

  3. Perhaps it’s been a decade or so since I was introduced to you at an event in New Bedford, MA. Been worth it ever since. Can’t tell you how much I enjoy reading your posts — no matter the frequency. Happy New Year to you and yours.

  4. Yes, we thank you! I thoroughly enjoy your posts. I feel peace and hope in your writing. I wish you the best of everything in 2021.

  5. Good morning Ben – The snow can be lovely, can’t it? Out here on the prairie, we’ve had three snows so far, two of the scary blizzard type with 60 mph wind and one of those “dreamily, drowsily, drifting down” varieties. We had a white Christmas, but barely. Only a couple inches on the ground.

    About looking at peoples’ faces – I am an old man and getting pretty deaf and I didn’t realize how dependent I had become on reading lips. And the muffled voices don’t help much either. Fortunately my wife and I live fairly isolated and go to town only once per week and have been masked since late March. So far, so good. A couple of our 20-30-somehing grandkids have had COVID, recovered, and are back at work. We know no one who has died of it, and our county has been a hotspot for at least half the time since March. Very large meat processing plant ten miles from us. Mostly immigrant workers, many of whom live 3 generations in one house.

    The prairie can be beautiful but we miss the winters we spent in Vermont, and I’m a bit envious of you. Thanks for doing what you do, Like the others who comment, I love what you write!

  6. We had our own snow globe snow on Christmas Eve with the winds one comes to expect in the mountains. We have our Christmas tree on our porch, wired from the top to an eye hook in the ceiling because you learn to tie your stuff down here. That day, we also had to weigh down the base to keep it from swaying like a church bell. But, then it calmed almost as quickly and became as pretty as any holiday card you can imagine. The coyotes were yipping and yapping at 4:30 this morning and my foolish roosters were cock-a-doodle-dooing right back at them in response – both calls echoing across the holler. Pretty cool stuff that I am grateful I am able to notice.
    I just realized the other day that my current dedicated journaling habit (which had languished in my younger days) picked up when I found this space and your books 10? or so years ago. I want to capture the every day as you do so well. I, too am missing mustaches and smiles (though most people’s smiles touch their eyes and maybe there is value in having to look for that.) I hope COVID hasn’t changed things too much (other than maybe a healthy respect of good hygiene and a renewed appreciation of home) but know I am fortunate to have had very little alteration of my daily life this past year. If anything, I am even more appreciative of life on my side of the mountain and how there are some places left in the world that haven’t changed too much.
    I am always happy to see a post from you in my in-box as I know I will find myself nodding my head in agreement and will find encouragement. Just curious, have you continued your teaching writing gig during all this?
    Best wishes for a healthy and happy 2021 for the Hewitt family!

    1. Hi Dawn, nice to hear from you. I haven’t been teaching; tried to pull together a Zoom class, but couldn’t get enough interest, and honestly I was sort of relieved… just doesn’t feel the same. Glad to hear you’re all holding up ok. Take care.

  7. It’s always a nice surprise when I wake up to your writing in my inbox. It’s always relatable and, in these slow farming times particularly, that is so welcome.

    I mentioned to my teen just yesterday that it felt like we were stuck in a perpetual snow globe.

    This morning, through a mouthful of toast soaked in runny egg yolk, my toddler announced that his breakfast was good. “Good food and fresh air will keep covid away, Mommy.” Brilliant deduction! I added that we also need sunshine and good sleep to help stay healthy. He told me not to forget to drink lots of water, too. The brilliance and innocence of an almost three year old is something folks should be forced to listen to, at least once in their lives. It might change a few outlooks. It has certainly changed mine.

    Risk versus benefit analysis has us feeling like a virus with a 99.5% survival rate for most is no more dangerous than driving a vehicle. Even the CDC charts show that those who died with the virus had 2-3 comorbidities. And then there is the variable about testing being highly inaccurate. Rising suicide rates and self harm attempts, along with medical error being the third leading cause of death, have me more concerned about what isolation and modern medicine is doing to our population. Our opinion of this virus isn’t much different than viruses before it. Heck, in the past, we participated in chicken pox parties. Combine this with the fact that my kids cannot mask (medical exemptions), makes us pretty unpopular. And so we keep to our own.

    Stay well, and best wishes for the new year to you and Penny!

  8. Lending my voice to the many who appreciate your writing, be it frequent or infrequent. The way you seem to walk in ceremony, the way you notice and celebrate the mundane, the way you capture and share. What a gift! All the best to you in the coming year, may it be filled with good friends, sheer abundance, and perfect health.

  9. I always imagine millions of people worldwide are reading your blog at the same time I am. If this isnt the case, I don’t see a way stop believing, since I cant see why they wouldn’t be.
    Its always a little gift to see Ben Hewitt in the inbox, & not knowing when makes it even better

  10. This is the year! You can’t imagine the shot of dopamine I get when I see “Lazy Mill Hill Farm” in my email inbox. Thanks for what you do.

  11. Have loved your posts for years. I’ve never commented though, but please know that it’s the first email I open when I see it in my inbox. But if I’m in a hurry I won’t open it, because it must be read when you have a cup of tea and time to reflect. Thanks for keeping it going. It’s offered a smile in these strange past months.

  12. Ben…One thing about long stretches between posts is that it causes me to think of the phrase, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” It’s always soothing to read your reflections when they arrive.

    I’ve been flying regularly for 60 years. OK, so it’s indicative of my age. But when the throttles are pushed forward in the cockpit my adrenaline starts rushing. That excelerating roll makes me grin even at this age.

    Last March I had to go to Las Vegas. The flight only had 30 people on it. The airplane was way, way below GVW. We used less than half the runway normally needed. It made me glad to be on that 737 and I forgot about the pandemic briefly.

    All the best to you and yours for 2021!

  13. I love your visuals, Ben – I can just see and feel the magic of that snowfall. Thank you for that because I’m looking out at barely a dusting. Maybe this week we will see more. Hope so – I miss it and don’t often get back there to the cabin in winter anymore.

    Thanks for your words whenever you get to writing them – always enjoy your perspective and the stories. Wondering if we will see another book out of you someday? Hope so.

    Wishing you, Penny, and the boys a wonderful New Year and a safe, healthy, and prosperous year ahead.

  14. Wishing you all good beginings of 2021, Ben! Sounds like your life is beautiful and fulfilling as ever. I really appreciate the writings and look forward to them. Very heart opening ❤
    Always gambling indeed. Perhaps this year is one of the best times to come to that realization. And to get our priorities straight.
    We are flying in 3 weeks, a 13 hour flight. A bit nerve-wracking, what if one of us runs a fever, what is my kid has sniffles, what if they require pre flight test, what if we just can't breathe in a mask for 20 hours straight… what if. And so it goes, trying to accept all the what ifs and just go with the flow, enjoying every minute of just what is. This year has definitely been a super teacher of just that.
    Thank you for this post. And Peace to you and your family.

  15. As always …. love your writing …. I rarely comment …. an introvert even on paper! But love to see you in my mail …. so MANY Thanks!! ET

  16. I like seeing your name pop up in my emails too. I often wait a few days to read, when I’m in a quieter mindset so it’s not ‘ruined’ by distraction and chaos. I just think that what you do is super important, whether you mean to do it or not. What you do for me anyway, is keep me appreciating the moment, seeing largeness in the smallness. Without that, what is there? If you can’t appreciate and be at one with whatever is around you then you’re prone to always wanting, never feeling satisfied, being addicted. (you know, like Big Pharma!:}) If everyone lived this way would there be so much excess? I bet not. Everyone sits and tries to figure out a ‘system’ that can clean up our mess, one that isn’t predatory or destructive….but maybe we just need people who can be in the moment and appreciate life, appreciate living? People that don’t ‘need’ a system to not be a dysfunctional mess. Anyhoo, I’m about fucking done with these masks. It’s way more than ‘just a mask’, it’s loss of connection, which I didn’t think we could get any worse as a society in that sense. Connection is everything. A virus that creates mild to severe symptoms, depending on how healthy/toxic you are isn’t worth losing my connection for…..damnit.

    1. Thanks, Tricia. Hold on, I think we’re getting close to the end of this thing. Then again… maybe not. Either way, be well.

  17. Yes, thank you for the gift of your writing! I too don’t care how often you write as long as you don’t stop! I feel extra connected and present on the days I get to read one of your posts.

  18. Saw you and briefly spoke with you at a PASA conference. Read a number of your books. Reading your posts ever since. Keep on posting.

  19. I’ve been coming to this space for… I think about 12 or 14 years now. Sometimes often, sometimes month apart. And it’s allways a pleasure. Thank YOU for continuing to share your life and your musings with ‘us’!

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