I do a lot of living at home -- it's where I work, raise children, grow food and feed my spirit -- so it’s always a little unsettling when I leave for longer than a day. But it's good for me, too. While I marvel every day that I actually get to live on this land, and I'm grateful for all the small stuff -- the intense winter quiet, the nurturing warmth and hypnotic glow from the wood stove, the star spackled sky -- it can be hard to keep up with a never-ending list of chores and to-dos and must-do-nows.
So when an obligation or an opportunity takes me away from home, Lucas tells me to enjoy it, embrace it, take the break and to simply "have fun." And I do. But it doesn't take long before I start feeling the tug towards home. This place is under my skin; it's a part of me and who I am. It is my present and my future.
But this most recent three days away has connected me with a part of my past. A great friend and colleague, who's an instructor at a big university in southwestern Ontario, asked me to guest lecture at one of her classes. It was great fun speaking to (and with) young people about being a professional writer and editor and these teaching visits (this is my second) help me refocus on my own writing projects.
Standing in front of a classroom was both strange and intensely familiar. Even though the world of academia is many, many miles away from my current reality, it's also a part of me, rooted in very early memories of visits to the place my dad worked.
While other kids' dads might have been business people or teachers, my dad was a scientist, with his own lab, at a university. I was always proud of that and of how interesting his workplace was, with its odd smells and strange equipment. It seemed like he was part of an exclusive club, and in many ways he probably was. Then later, after a rocky start, I spent several stimulating years at university pursuing my own studies, first with my undergrad then a post-grad. It's a world I could have made a life in, but I followed a different path.
University is a nice place to visit and I'd welcome more opportunities like today's in the future, but I'm happy to be going back to my chosen life on the farm with its to-do lists and big big sky. Besides, it's a full moon tonight and she's just not the same with a city skyline at her feet.
So after one more girlie gab over a dawn-lit breakfast, I'll be leaving tomorrow to start my long journey home. But first I'll be making a pit stop, or actually, a farm stop. As I don't often get out to the "west end" of the province, which is home to a large and active ecological agriculture community, I'll be stopping at farm-based workshop on home dairying. I'm excited. Learning hands-on about making yoghurt, cheese and butter, as well as raising a family cow, will help bring us one yummy step closer to my goal of food self-sufficiency.
And while it's commonplace to bring back trip souvenirs, I assured Lucas I won't be bringing back a house cow. Then again, I didn't make any promises about a sheep or goat.