As our girls have grown older and more capable, J and I have gotten into the habit of letting them play independently in the mornings. No longer do we launch ourselves out of the covers at whatever ungodly hour they begin to wail. Instead, we stay snuggled in, sometimes with little legs and arms tangled among us, and sometimes just listening to big imaginations running wild in the reading nook or down in the living room until we either need to be up or someone comes to plead for breakfast – 6:30 or 7am on average. On one hand, it’s nice to feel somewhat autonomous again; on the other, I have a vague sense of irresponsibility for leaving them to their own devices.
I helped the girls get dressed, and sat with them as they ate leftover pancakes I’d frozen after a breakfast-for-dinner. J needed a haircut so he managed the nursery school run, taking Swee with him. Off they went, and my coffee and I sat down to answer some email before doing chores. Wood in the stove, scrubs in the dryer, feet in my boots to open the coop.
The chickens were glad to see me today. They came tumbling out the door as soon as I lifted it, pushing and shoving to get at the bits of salad and sandwich crust and apple peel I’d brought to them. Pretty Boy crowed over and over, his frostbitten comb trembling with the effort. He’s a sorry sight to see, and I feel badly that we couldn’t do more for him, but he otherwise doesn’t seem much worse for the wear. I emptied the ash bucket over the section of the run not protected by the overhang, just to give them all more space to move. Silly birds won’t walk on the white stuff, but at least they’re laying more: two eggs today, and yesterday, and the day before.
And then I went for a short walk up the road. Our driveway is a sheet of glass under this new dusting, but once you’re out on the dirt, there’s plenty of traction. I walked past the empty cornfields, not yet crisscrossed with snowmobile tracks, and past several quiet houses. A neighbor we’ve not yet met raised one hand in a country salute as he cleared his front path with the snowblower. I turned around at the white mailbox, just before the road goes downhill and headed back into the morning sun, unzipping my coat and losing the hat on the way. Time for breakfast.
I’ve stopped simply admiring our food stores, and have started actually eating them. Groundbreaking, I know. I worked so hard at tucking things away “for winter,” and somewhere around the third or fourth snowfall, it hit me that it is now “winter” and yes, we can eat these yummy stores! We’ve been working away at the half a pig downstairs, but hadn’t broken into the frozen fruits or jars of preserved goodies. No more! I’ve got a bag of peaches that may wind up as cobbler this weekend, and when I transfer the next load of laundry, a jug of cider is coming up too. Time to enjoy the literal fruits of our labor!