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  • Julie

COMING HOME


{in gus's room, with freshly painted floors, a mended sweater, and too big socks // put my desk HERE // ye olde drying rack}

Well here we are, in February, a month in which I am trying to do something that resembles Thoughtful Living. For the last few months I've been getting up, checking off the list, putting out the fires, and falling asleep on the couch before I even have the time for a sensible thought like, "I should go to bed." To drive home the state of things, this past weekend the act of setting out oats to soak on Sunday evening for Gus's Monday morning breakfast felt revolutionary; medal-deserving, even. I have felt a bit lost at sea as a mother, writer, and homesteader for the better part of a year- a year that has included more change than perhaps the last 6 or so combined. In a moment of recent passion spurned by efforts to track down a bee hive for spring I cornered Craig and said with a finger swinging in the air, "I don't want to forget the way we want to live because of all of this!" The moving, the ups and downs of foster care, the shift, shift, shifting.

Our beloved milk cow, Luella, got sick a year and a half ago and is no longer with us. We sold our flock of sheep last summer and gave our geese to a friend. And with the pigs and turkeys and meat birds processed in the fall, as they are every year, we are left with farm dogs, a stray barn cat, and what feels like the equivalent of backyard chickens. We have been tethered by large, lovely animals to our homestead for the better part of 6 years and I haven't quite known what or who or why in their absence. The reasons are both simple and layered, and while I sometimes feel inclined to explain myself to ensure people will like and understand my choices, and therefor like and understand me, I think what really matters is that taking a step back from animal husbandry was the right and good choice for us. It has come with its fair share of right choice heartaches and lost identity tailspins but I think a mistake we often make is conflating the right thing with the thing that feels best, particularly when the latter preserves our egos. It feels decidedly ungood to have taken a step back from milking cows and snuggling lambs, yet that step has afforded us the opportunity to shift into new spaces we couldn't have hoped for even a year ago. It hurts; it feels amazing. It feels like failure; it's the opposite of failure.

The week before Thanksgiving our family moved into the house that first brought us to Maine in 2012. It is old and beautiful and halfway renovated, bless its little heart. It sits on seven acres. The boys saw moose tracks in our woods last week and I can walk all the children under my wing to the local library whenever we feel like it. There's space for a studio in the barn and a cleared field in the back for our gardens. I hate to think about how much good soil we left behind, but surely if we turned garbage soil into something vibrant and healthy before- we can do it again. We got in too late to plant garlic this fall and of course there's the waiting on things we'll need to establish this year like rhubarb and asparagus, but this place is Home. I felt it in 2012, and I feel it today. It's where I'll feed my kids and write my stories and live that thoughtful life I'm zeroing in on.

I'm so grateful; so happy; so lucky.

Amen. (Amen, amen, amen.)


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