Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Best Moments

There's this moment I look forward to every morning. This time after I leave the comfort of bed and before the worries of the day begin. It's not when you may think — not the morning chores in the fresh air with the animals. As much as I love the beasts out there in the swirling morning snowfall; that work is a daily mild panic ritual.

Chores are half responsibility and half inspection. Yes there's the serving hay, grain and water but also the random luck of living with so many animals in one place in a harsh season. Right now there are 20+ chickens, 4 geese, 4 pigs, 2 horses, 2 dogs, 2 cats and a hawk and I can't enjoy my coffee or sit down here to write to you until I am certain all are fed, well, and digesting before winter coffee hits my lips.

Summer and winter farm rules change. I am not ever anxious waking up on a 60 degree morning in June. But after a night of wind and cold - I need to check on a hundred little things that could snowball into problems if not addressed. Did the pigs' water tough freeze in place? Will the truck start? Does the wood stove need the ash removed? Is the mare's blanket chaffing anywhere? Are the geese nesting under that brush because something is wrong in the barn? Did the hawk cast his pellet? And so on. You get the vibe. Morning chores are making sure everything is okay and another day can begin. It's a sigh of relief and a pat on the back. It's accomplishing something big before you ever pour that first mug...

BUT! Oh, man. But when you get to that point in the morning where everyone outside is sated and chewing, when the fire is roaring, when the coffee is percolating and the dogs are done with their breakfast and the cats are already curled up for a long stretch of morning chow... That is when I find my favorite time. I have a criminally large mug of coffee. If I have any heavy cream I whip it up in a bowl and add vanilla to it and plop a real dollop of treasure on the mug. I turn on a podcast, an audio book, a YouTube documentary about people who still think the earth is flat... anything I can observe as entertainment instead of work. I give myself a whole hour to do basically nothing by the fire. I don't work on freelance articles or editor notes or book proposals. I don't send logo updates or illustration sketches. All that can wait for that one hour. I know once I start that stuff I'll go until past dark and worry like mad about bills and the mortgage and whether or not I'll be able to mail a house payment in time this month. I know all of that is coming. But before it does, I give myself permission to be happy instead of scared - just for a little while.

I know I need to make serious sales this week and I also know how hard that will be. People can't just buy artwork and soap and meat shares they won't eat till next fall after the holidays. Everyone is recovering from those expenses of travel, gifts, hosting, meals, etc. It's something I need to adjust to. I am working on it. But I still need to try. I write down my list of work and goals for the day and income is part of that. Today I hope to meet as many of them as I can without spending anything. Some days you can't avoid spending money - animals demand certain things and choices. But today I should be able to hole up and work and hope. Get a step closer towards feeling safe. And if I'm lucky tomorrow I get to repeat all of this on my own farm, again.

But right now: coffee and a long sigh. There's no cream on top today and I'm not running out to buy any either. But it's hot, and I earned it, and it's here and I'm grateful.