Winter’s Song

I love springtime and the return of the birds.  The warm sun on my face, my hands in the soil.  I do love seed packets and promises of gardens galore.  I love tree blossoms and flowers and bees and more.

I love summer and all the fun to be had.  The gardens and watering.  Fresh peas off the vine and corn growing high.  I love the long days and al fresco meals.  I love the way the hot sun feels.

I love autumn and its flurry of work.  Harvesting, preserving, the fatigue that comes.  The colors, the holidays the promises of rest.  The smell of wood smoke and coffee and warm blankets ’round the fire.

In my hurry to get back to spring, I was stopped in my tracks.  I checked on the chickens all warm in their house.  Big flakes of snow were falling suddenly from the sky.  The smell was so fresh.  The coolness livened my skin after the warm house within.  Such quiet descended as the flurries went on.  Just birds in the trees trying to keep warm.  Chirping and singing, they had quite a time.  As the flurries of fluffy snow came tumbling down, resting on trees and the sleeping ground.

Winter songs are of rest and peace.  Of cleansing and warmth.  Of cold and restoration.  This time I treasure for its ability to calm.  I am enjoying my hibernation.  Ready to be out in the garden beds in no time.  But in the meantime, the house is warm, the coffee’s hot, the snow is falling, and all is still.  Winter whispers, “Take a breath.”

Hygge Lifestyle (simple pleasures and joyful living)

As the season begins to change, and the light appears more golden, as do the leaves, I find myself responding as well.  A natural response to the cool nights, I suppose.  Autumn welcomes in the New Year in many cultures so perhaps that would explain the nesting instinct.  My ancestors of old would be busily putting up food (as I am) and preparing the garden beds to sleep for winter.  Firewood will be cut and stacked soon and soups are on the menu for the first cool day.

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Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is the Nordic principal of all things cozy and good.  Of cable knit sweaters and wool socks.  Of blazing fires and drinks with friends.  Of self care with baths and saunas and good creams.  Of gifts and community and laughter and warmth.

Perhaps it is because of my Scandinavian ancestry or perhaps it is from living in a four-season climate, that I so love the hygge concepts.  It is one thing to prepare for winter and be ready to survive, it is quite another to prepare for winter beautifully.  It draws in the sensations of warmth and soft textures, and good books by the fire, and romantic evenings in, and game nights with friends, and rose scented baths, and hot chocolate in the snow.

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But outside of the seasonal aspects, the Hygge lifestyle is for all year.  Its focus is on friends and family and self love, and good food and good drinks, and noticing the beauty in every moment, in every season, in every facet of life.  Of embracing bliss and goodness and waking up to these lovely days we have.

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The book, The Hygge Life; Embracing the Nordic Art of Coziness Through Recipes, Decorating, Entertaining, Simple Rituals, and Family Traditions is a lovely book to curl up with and incorporate into your home and lifestyle.

Wishing you heart warming and simple joys!

Whispers of Autumn

 

fallEven without a calendar

without a clock on the wall

I would know it’s Autumn

I can feel that it is Fall.

 

Perhaps the filter of the light

smoky golden rosy glow

I hear geese coming back

the birds surely know.

 

Slight coolness in its changing breath

such odd stillness in the air

Blue watercolor sky

Tree and moss finery fair.

 

And rich, bold oil painting colors

sweep the landscape with a brush

Wood smoke scents crystal nights

Oh, white winter do not rush.

 

Yes, I would know that it were Fall

sans note or clock or mirror

Lulling whispers in air

say autumn has settled here.

Summer List and Sunshine

Summer is quickly becoming one of my favorite seasons.  Sometimes in Colorado it seems like we have seven and a half months of winter a few weeks of spring, a few months of summer, a few weeks of autumn, then right back to winter.  Yesterday felt so good at seventy four degrees.

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Summer does have a wicked tendency to come and go before you can get your tan lines straightened out.  Along with our shop we do farmer’s markets and now Doug has a 9-5 job too.  We watch the baby, I am writing a novel, and we have three garden plots, and…well, we need to make a list of what we really want to do.

I am a notorious list maker.  If I don’t make a list of the things we want to do this summer then we shall miss it.

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So far we have seen a bluegrass concert at Red Rocks.  I have read a good book, The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton.  I have a beautiful garden started.

  1. Go to pool one morning a week.
  2. Take Maryjane to the carnival next week.
  3. Take Maryjane to rodeo next week.
  4. Go hiking on a trail we have never been on.
  5. Ride bike as far down the trail as I can go.
  6. Read three great books.
  7. Dance under the full moon of the summer solstice.
  8. Order lemonade at the county fair.
  9. Drink coffee on the balcony every morning.
  10. Go to the mountains and picnic by a stream at least once this summer.

I would like to add road trips and vacations and time in hammocks and bonfires but time, especially summertime, is elusive.  But we will do all we can to soak up each beautiful warm moment.

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Tell me,   what do you want to do this summer?

Glittering Grace

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” Across the plains of glittering grace,

behold Winter’s beautiful face”

“…But all along the Rockies you can feel it in the air
From Telluride to Boulder down below
The closest thing to heaven on this planet anywhere
Is a quiet Christmas morning in the Colorado snow…” Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

“Country Roads Take Me Home…” John Denver

The deer pictures were taken from my front door.  The rest were taken driving to see our daughter.  Colorado is certainly a beautiful place to live and we are lucky to see all the seasons in all their glory.

Early Autumn

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The school bus rambles down the main road as the sun hovers low while slowly making its ascent.  Sounds from the football field yonder bring to mind glorious fall days; of young men running, yelling, crowds in the small town bandstands cheering.  The leaves are turning brilliant shades of gold in the highest cottonwoods.  Autumn has snuck in early whispering cool breaths in the early morning hours and in the evening too.

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My mother’s 61st birthday is today.  I hope she has a wonderful day!  We always considered her birthday to be in summer.  We didn’t start school until September and the days were still hot.  Summer arrived late this year and it seems she was only visiting on her way to Tahiti for the next season has arrived in her place.

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Autumn is my favorite time of year but I am not ready for the impending cold that accompanies.  I long for a few more months of warm summer days.  The air is crisp and bright full of birdsong and daytime warmth.

I sigh.  “Alright Fall, you can come in.  I’ll get my sweater.”

Lessons From a Homestead

 

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1. Thou shall not procrastinate.

It was such a lovely day Tuesday that at the end of the day, with the clothes lines weighed down with garments still barely damp, I thought, ‘Oh I’ll just get them in the morning.’  And then we woke to this.  Whoops.  The clothes on the line were rows of wintery mass, crystals of ice surrounding each thread.

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Just like with bringing in clothes before a new cold front hits, we must also make sure to harvest when crops are ready, preserve when bounty comes in, get wood and hay stockpiled before winter, get seeds ordered so they have time to arrive before its time to start them indoors.  Procrastinating on a farmstead (or in life, I suppose) is never really a great thing.

2. Better late than never.

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Ahh, but the sun shone brightly this morning and I do believe the clothes will dry and be fresher than ever.

We were at a funeral all day yesterday and I mentioned to someone I was chatting with that we wished we had started farming twenty years ago.  How much we would know and have accomplished by now!  But then I thought, you know?  I am here now.  We took the plunge.  We combined our strengths and courage and changed our lifestyle to one of vast simplicity and peace out here on this homestead.  It has its fair share of worries, as anywhere does, but it is just where we are supposed to be and we hope to have another 40+ years of farming.

It is never to late to prepare for a dream to come true, to learn new skills, to make amends, to make new friends, to change one’s life, or just to relax more.

3. Live seasonally.

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When we lived in the suburbs our life revolved around school and work.  It was either cold outside or not.  We ate whatever was on sale at the grocery store.  Our life was the same year round.  Now, our senses have been heightened, intensified, we live much more deeply,  more fully living seasonally.

It is the coldest winter we can remember but the summer heat will feel all the more sweet.  Since we work outdoors most of the year, we experience all elements.  Heat, cold, rain, snow, hail, sweet perfect warmth.  This summer, according to the Almanac, will be hot and rainy.  It will warm our bones and make us feel wonderful and then maybe we will be ready for the coolness of Autumn by the end.  Then the respite and warm fires that come in winter.  We go through hard work then long breaks.  We long for markets to start.  We can’t wait for them to cease.

We eat what is available.  The first strawberry is ever so sweet.  The ones later in the season trucked in are dreadful.  We enjoy food so much more in their proper season.  We feel the warm soil, kick the soft snow, dream of spring, and can sense weather changes in the air.  We are keenly aware of every scent, sight, taste, sound, and feeling on our skin.  This is a powerful way to live.

4. Be home more.

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My favorite days are those I can spend on my homestead away from the world.  I love being able to get things done around here, then curl up with a book, to know what is going on here, and to keep the house warm.  Last night when we came home rather late, something shot around the greenhouse away from the chicken coop as Doug was closing up the ladies.  Fifteen minutes later and we could have had trouble.  The house was 45 degrees from our neglecting the fire all day.

Your home is your respite.  Decorate it and fill it with things you love and be there more.

5. Take chances.

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We lost so many animals last year that for the first time I was a little shy about getting more.  Our middle child, Shyanne, works at a hardware store and the shop cat had kittens.  Shyanne wanted to assure they went to good homes, so she took one, my son took one, and we were designated two.  Nine cats again.  Oy.  What if they get sick?  What if they get the others sick?  What if they die early?  What if…..we took them home.  They are healthy little things, full of fun and mischief and keep Doug and I laughing.  Between the kittens and Maryjane’s antics when we babysit her, we can’t stop laughing.  Great medicine.  Worth the chance.

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6. Embrace life.  Life the life YOU want.

I often find myself plagued with worries and regrets.  Bad memories or the coulda shoulda wouldas.  This year every time one pops up I will quickly shut the door on it.  No use worrying about past things.  In fact, there is no use worrying about future things!  Life right now.  Right this second.  This life we are living right now is what we need to embrace fully.  Do the job you want to do.  Live where you want to.  Live the lifestyle you want.  Everything else will fall into place.  Walk softly on the Earth and in accordance with nature.  Take walks.  Notice everything around you.  Notice all your senses.  ‘Tis a gift to be alive!

Prairie at Dawn (and you can rest in January!)

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I stepped outside before the sun’s colorful hands glided over the edge of the prairie.  The lighting was surreal and looked as if I lived in a Renaissance pastel that might hang in the museum.  A painted landscape so beautiful my mind could hardly fathom.  The owls called to each other from tree to tree and the city lights in the distance shone against the silhouette of the mountain.

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Our year starts in spring when the baby goats are born and we start our early planting.  Spring is filled with preparing beds, planting at the right times, bottle feeding goat kids, cooing over baby chicks, and praying for warm weather.  We are also madly getting ready for farmer’s markets.  Preparing, bottling, labeling, farmer’s market checklist; tent, tables, chairs, displays, application fees, products made…ready, set, go!

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And we catapult into summer where for the next four months family and friends have troubles getting a hold of us.  Those close to us understand.  We live a whirlwind of sunrises, farm animals, farmer’s markets, farming, herbal business, preserving, holding classes, getting ready for winter.  Always getting ready for winter.

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Sporting my new fashion look.

September seems like it will be slower as some markets draw to a close and we see our pantry filling up but for the next three months we will still be actively preparing, just as the ants and bees do, to settle in for winter.  Always wondering if we have enough stored.  Enough food…enough water…enough wood.

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Moving was a wonderful thing since it marked the end of our years of pining for a homestead.  It is exactly what we prayed for.  Low enough rent and no utilities that we can afford to be healers.  The landlords share the property which is not something we would have ever considered before until we started being intrigued by the idea of cohabitating homesteads where we started to think that we should not share property with friends.  Too complicated.  But, the idea is sound.  The owners here are quiet and leave us to ourselves but we are all here if the other needs us.  Best of both worlds.  We are near my favorite city.  In twenty five minutes I am at a library, coffee shop, or restaurant if I want to be.  Then back to the confines of the vast prairie, large stars, and serene silence.  I am humbled to be here.  But moving was exhausting and we find ourselves longing for rest.  But there is something about Autumn that makes me want to keep working.  An innate desire to get things done and prepared.  The longer I homestead the closer to nature and natural seasons and intuition I get.

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Our friend, Jim, was one of my students; he is a Vietnam Vet, commander for a veteran’s organization, lover of plants and herbs, a survivalist, loyal friend, and in the tree business.  He gave me a great deal on three cords of wood.  Even though it is a lot of money for us, a winter without utilities will even things out.  He dropped off the cords one by one while Doug and I spent the afternoon stacking wood.  Doug kept stopping to pull up his jeans.  Forget a gym membership.  We work hard, our muscles are defined, we eat healthy, homemade food, and though we’ll be a little soft by the end of winter, we’ll be right back in the swing of things for the remainder of the year.  Homesteading looks good on folks.

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We have a pantry full, two freezers full, now a total of four cords of wood, and we are getting closer.  Time is ticking because we are still doing farmer’s markets through the end of the month and craft shows through the middle of December.  In between we get ready for our winter rest.  We are drying off the goat; we have plenty of cheese made and milk frozen.  We are getting ready to breed Isabelle again.  Today the gutters will be cleaned, homestead area mowed, garden worked on, chimney cleaned, and orders filled, even though we are under the weather.  The seasons don’t stop for sick days.  Soon we will only have craft shows on the weekends and the holidays to look forward to.  Then for three months we will rest and grow restless and be ever ready for the seasons to start over.  We are thankful to live this lifestyle.  This is truly the good life.

Autumn in the Air

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I felt a chill and knew it’d come

he doth snuck in through the night

on glided rain through corn stalks stealth

a new feel to this dawn light.

 

Coloring as he made his way

green beans wave an aspen gold

birds sing brightly from pine perches

prepare for winter untold.

 

Vast pumpkin leaves unfold with grace

the harvest a blessed sight

glinted orange orbs of autumn hide

peering out to children’s delight.

 

Summer sun will still dance about

her familiar warmth a treat

but in the evening’s autumn mist

fall moves o’er farms on painted feet.

Adding Spring to the Farmhouse

The trees are set in a frozen still life.  A myriad of icy white, snowy trees set against the landscape as if from a painting.  Fog rolls softy over the hills muting the land and soft flakes of snow dance dizzily to the ground.  Yet I know spring is arriving.  She peeks her head out then retreats from the cold.  But signs of her are gradually appearing.  The black birds have arrived.  The finches speak loudly as they work on their apartments, preparing their nurseries.  Babies are being born in the fields.  The egg basket is filling back up.  She is tip toeing back, welcome Spring, welcome.

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My farmhouse is darker right now because of the sun rising higher in the sky.  Soon, the plants will have to be moved to the porch to sunbathe.  The living room in all its warm winter colors now depresses me as I cannot get outside quite yet into the warm sun, but cannot stay in the confines of this dark house.  It is time to add spring to the farmhouse.

There are easy ways to add seasonal change to a house for spring.  Last fall we added soft, textured blankets, and candles everywhere.  Soon, it will be lighter longer and we won’t need so many candles, nor will we need the heavy woven Indian blankets.

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I just bought two chairs after Christmas off of Craigslist.  A quite nice western design which matches our southwestern décor.  Southwestern décor around here needs to be saved for when the mustards, deep reds, and browns shine…fall and winter.  Right now I crave large rose prints.  Laura Ashley style, small floral prints, spring colors.  It would be ridiculous for me to get back on Craigslist and find more furniture with these design parameters.

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Surefit.com provided the means to reupholster the chairs seasonally.  Two lovely floral prints arrived by mail.  They can be washed, stored, and displayed all as I see fit.  Quilts and vintage pillows of desired pattern cover the sofas.  New inexpensive cushions are added to the rocking chair making it green with a homemade pillow of small red flowers instead of the gold and red plaid it was.  Two old throw pillows hidden inside a large sham from our sheet set instantly transform the other rocker.  A tablecloth of lovely print covers the tile coffee table.  Flowers can be added to any room to instantly add garden life to spaces.  Unnecessary knick knacks and decorating pieces that match the southwestern décor take a vacation to either the thrift store or the garage.  Everything is spiffed up, cleaned up, and new photos added to the wall.

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Now the house is ready for spring.  It’s time to start seedlings.