Thursday, November 28, 2013

First snow

Yesterday was the first "big" snowfall of the year. Later than some years, earlier than others. But the chronology doesn't matter. Just that it's here now. It was only about 6" of accumulation but enough to cause the school board to cancel buses. Enough to coat the land with white frosting and dust the trees with icing sugar. Enough.

The kids were thrilled -- snow day! Sledding and hot chocolate and warming cold toes by the fire. And me -- rumbles of dread and panic began burbling inside my chest. Winter is no long coming, it's here. While the snow absolves me from many farm responsibilities and covers a multitude of sins and unfinished projects, winter also makes other day-to-day tasks harder. But it's not the practicalities that fill me with anxiety -- it's the unexpected, the unknown, the whats, the when. Will the power go out this year and if so how will I get the generator out of the garage? What if the barn pipes freeze like last year? What if the winch on the plow breaks again or if it stops running all together? When will I run out of wood/hay/money?

How will I manage the darkness?

I tell my kids there are no such things are monsters, but that's not entirely true. Those are the monsters that haunt my mind and leave me tense, short tempered and fearful. The monsters that fill my thoughts with their disparaging words, their put downs, their judgements, their 'you don't deserve this' and 'you can't handle it.'  

And yet.

Today I walked to the barn under a canopy of peacock blue sky, sunlight captured in the snow. Dancing. Like fairylights. I breathed in the cold air tinged with a tease of woodsmoke. The taking of breath. Breathtaking. I could hear the goats and sheep bleating, the pigs barking (more incessant than oinking), the chickens clucking for their breakfast. In this morning my chest ached with beauty. And possibility. And purpose.

Sometimes I wish my soul was drawn towards an easier path. Living on a farm can be hard; doing it alone can be terrifying.

And yet.

I recently found photos from before the move, when we lived in suburbia in a small semi-detached house that we bought because it was in the right neighbourhood with a small shady garden that grew hostas and patchy grass. I recognized the place but it was like looking at a stranger. I am so different from that woman who went to bed at night gazing out at the neighbour's rooftop wondering, is this all there is?

Stronger. Tougher. Harder. Smaller. Fuller.

The seeds of growing self-reliance, of finding meaning, of realizing a purpose, were there, but dormant. It took moving to the farm for the seeds to grow. Not all seeds flourish; some fail to germinate, others grow weak and spindly, and there are those that die from disease or neglect or for no reason at all.  

I grieve for the woman in the photos who thought that moving to the farm would be a dream come true. In many ways it was, still is. But that dream came at a cost. Fairy tales never talk about what happens when happily ever after ends. But I never wanted to be like Cinderella anyway.

So for now, this day, I think of the healing power of winter. A time for rejuvenation, reflection, next steps. Author and poet Brian Brett wrote that farming is a profession of hope. There is always next season. Forgiveness for last year's mistakes. Another chance. A fresh start.

The seeds are waiting.


Mama Pea said...

Fiona dear, you do so deserve the beautiful life that revolves around your farm and you CAN handle it . . . I believe you and the farm will grow into something so much more than you could ever believe at this moment.

Holy moly, you are such a fantastic writer!! The sky's the limit regarding this talent of yours. Write like crazy during this period of your life. It will pass quickly, and looking back you'll realize you have heaps of fodder for an awesome book that will help others.

I know you don't feel like it now, but your strength continues to glow and grow.

David said...

Fiona, very somber post but very accurate. I've been in your situation and the what if(s) can be devastating. You are still in the get through one day at a time mode. You are stronger than you think. There were days that I thought I wouldn't make it but I did. I got down to the level of just do the next right thing. I couldn't think about the grand scheme of things because it was just too overwhelming. My faith and friends truly were determining factors of my sanity. Your attitude will help get you through the day. Things like the first snow fall can become something more enjoyable than in the past. Things will become more appreciated because now it's known that life can change courses with a single decision. I know how difficult it can be but stay strong. Your kids need you.

God bless this family and give Fiona the strength to be a good mother during these difficult times.

Have the best day that you can. said...

Thank you.... Thank You.

Buttons Thoughts said...

Brian Brett gave wise words it can be one bumpy ride farming but it will indeed make you.... "Stronger. Tougher. Harder. Smaller. Fuller".

I am still reading your posts and love your writing I can feel your pain and I am sorry things did not turn out the way dreams are meant to as everyone always believes they will but just by reading your posts I believe you are strong and you are going to get through this.
Take care. B

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