All of the farmer wannabes out there dream about leaving the city for a simple bucolic lifestyle, but you and I both know that farming is anything but simple. Life on a farmstead is always busy: If you’re not cultivating and harvesting crops, you’re planning what you’ll grow in the upcoming season, when you’ll start the seeds and how you’ll prepare the soil. You get up at the break of dawn to milk the cow or do chicken chores. In the kitchen, you’ve constantly got something baking, fermenting, frying or roasting, and you’ve more than likely got a project or two or three cluttering up you craft table.
Yes, life on our farmsteads is always bustling with activity, and during the holidays, the intensity gets kicked up a notch. In addition to surviving the day-to-day, we’ve got Christmas presents to make or buy, halls to deck with greenery, and trays of cookies that await baking. It’s all too easy to get overwhelmed.
This time of year, I have to remember to gift myself with little bits of tenderness. One gesture of self-kindness that always brightens my day is to stop, pour myself a cup of tea and settle into the world around me. “Settling in” can mean anything from taking a walk through the woods and stopping to notices evergreen berries popping through fallen leaves to pulling on a pair of cozy socks, turning on some relaxing music (preferably something featuring a banjo) and perching myself in a comfy chair in front of a window to watch the birds and the squirrels frolic by. By allowing myself to settle in and clear my head, I’m able to feel the warmth radiating from the fireplace against my skin, notice how the sun peeks gently through the clouds, and better taste the delicate spices dancing around my tea blend. My senses become alive again, and instead of being bogged down by to-do lists, I’m able to better appreciate my surroundings.
In our harried daily lives, it’s easy to forget the world’s simple beauties. But the familiar sights, sounds and scents of the homestead are renewed if we take a moment to view them through new, appreciative lenses. The squash in the root cellar, instead of being yet another meal to feed your families hungry bellies, transforms into a fragrant soup full of brilliant color that excites the taste buds with its sweet and complex notes. The goats aren’t merely the stubborn animals that need milked and fed; you can once again see them as the curious creatures that caused you to fall in love with farming life. The pile of fleece that needs cleaned and processed presents a tactile adventure, its lanolin-steeped fibers providing a texture unlike anything else on the farm, and it becomes a blank canvas for painting rich and vibrant colors.
As we continue to count the days to Christmas and the new year, I hope you’ll take time to enjoy life’s simple beauties. If you do, share with me the things you discover.