I’ve been doing lots of thinking lately.January has always been my month of reflection. The harvesting, preserving, hunting and butchering is done. The garden is under a bed of snow and the Christmas hype has come and gone. And finally, the waves of life smooth out into glassy stillness. Finally, there’s time to curl up with a quilt and sip honey-sweetened tea. There’s time to reflect on the past year.
These past 12 months have been different from anything I’ve ever experienced. Obvious statement, I know, because no single year is alike another. What I mean is that this past year, my pattern of ‘normality’ was interrupted.
Normally, I would have started a variety of vegetable seeds in spring. By midsummer, my arms would have been overflowing in garden produce. Come fall, I’d have spent crisp mornings and dusky evenings hunting with my man. Under normal circumstances, I’d have put up a bazillion jars of food by the Christmas season.
But not this year. This year was different.
Our heads were full of moving plans, wrapping up last minute building details, getting loans, permits and the like.
Yes, this year was different. I bought my tomato starts from a friend. Because we were moving, I gardened at a someone else’s place…an opportunity for which I’m very grateful! But I didn’t have room for squash or luscious beds of herbs. No rustling corn leaves or shallots or peas.
My onions and beans failed to produce. The cucumber seed I saved from last year had a low germination rate. And the beet yield wasn’t the best.
We had a poor year in poultry pens. Neighborhood dogs, a hungry owl and a skunk attack knocked our numbers lower than we liked.
Instead of hunting, we raised two lambs for meat. Instead of fermenting my cabbages, they landed in the freezer. Leeks didn’t make it to cold storage, but took their place beside the cabbages instead. Cucumbers were purchased for pickling. And the pressure canner hardly made appearance all summer long.
Instead of filling nearly all of my 600+ canning jars, I only filled somewhere around 300 or so. The truth is… I was too busy to keep records this time ’round.
It hasn’t necessarily been a bad year. Just different.
As I look back, I have reason to be thankful. Every (important) food shortage we came up against this was met by generosity from a friend or neighbor. We were offered loads of fruit and also a wide variety. We were allowed to glean extra potatoes and beets. The yield from the community honey-bees was amazing. And everywhere we turned we were provided for…and then some. I don’t take this lightly.
However, throughout it all I kept feeling …unsettled. This year wasn’t what I expected and in some ways, it has left me feeling a bit empty. Perhaps because there hasn’t been a normal for a while?
As I think about it, I don’t know why I sigh…? In many ways, this year was different.
But it has given me one more skill to add to my traditional living repertoire: the buying of land and building a home. Hey, that’s two!
It was another season of life to be challenged by, to learn from and live in.
So I wrap up my sighs up and say goodbye to an unusual year. And I embrace the next one! Foresight tells me it’s (once again) going to be unlike anything I’ve experienced before. I have a feeling it’s going to be a rich but wild ride.
So climb on board with me and let’s roll!