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Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Hat Wears Me

The heat has been almost too much to be bearable this summer. 108F can make the most optimistic person lose any and all enthusiasm. Can you imagine what it has been doing to me? Lucky enough we got a break, the temperature has dropped into the high 80's, making it possible to think again. Yesterday the rain drizzled and occasionally spewed down the entire day, making pleasant work for all of us. The boys ran around, screaming joyously until they fell in the mud, dizzy from the excursion.

The heat of course is bad on thoughts. You wonder why on Earth you do the things you do. Wasn't there joy in all of this at one point? Perhaps. Even after doing it for years, the heat wears on you, questioning what it was you actually thought you would accomplish by being this type of person. Once upon a time you were a suburban lounge about. Content in the central air and fruit smoothies. Then you went and pulled this stunt. Pushing yourself, hoping that in some way it all works the way you want it, but most of the time, it blows up in your face. But even in the heat, you must admit that those mistakes made you a better person, that you no longer harp on those mistakes and you no longer fear rejection. Some time ago, those things slipped away. Unfortunately the heat can bring it back in sweeps of emotional turmoil.

Then it cools, and the world looks and feels so much brighter. You have accomplished so much, you know this, you recognize it. And it no longer matters that you don't have an audience to applaud you. Did it ever really matter? Of course it did. There is just something about another person patting you on the back, telling you that you had done a good job. You can always get your accolades from the drool that suddenly appears dribbling from the mouths of the cattle you have spent months working with. When you see that, you know that what you have done was good. You accomplished something that hadn't happened before in these animals lives. You watch as your children no longer begrudgingly take on their chores. It doesn't matter to you that many of their friends have fewer or no chores, and it clicks with your children, it no longer matters to them either.

Babies are born, and you swell with pride, no matter what this creature's future holds. For you, in a very small way, helped this animal into being. It doesn't matter that you put hardly any work into it, this is your baby, it would have never come to be if it wasn't for you. You give it a name, and protect it fiercely, not once thinking what the future is for your baby. It sits there in the back of your mind, but you do what needs to be done to make sure that your baby has a wonderful life, healthy and happy until the future creeps up.

The heat always returns. The flies come back in full force, gnawing at your animals and biting you as you sit in the over heated barn. Thoughts turn dull again, you go through the day on autopilot not really caring about much except finding a breeze or maybe stripping down completely and sitting in a cattle tank. Modesty goes away in the heat, and who cares if the neighbors can see, it will give them something to talk about over their iced tea. And you can be assured that you will get a sly smile and a wink when you see them in town.

With the heat so persistent, the vegetables come in. Much more than you can safely keep in a fridge. Canning season rushes up on you. And of course you find yourself slightly unprepared. Are we ever truly ready for the canning frenzy that is about to commence? Sometimes, but never mentally. You know it's there, you do it every year. But that heat! You only make things worse by turning every burner you have on. It maybe only 101F outside, but the house reaches 115F before you know it. Now the thrill of canning season is sucked out of you. It becomes a chore. You knew all along you would have to do this, but you behave as though it is the bestest thing evah! You forgetful fool.

Fall descends and you finally get to sit back and take in everything you accomplished. Pictures are taken and the Internet is full of gorgeous jars of food. Every where you turn, one person is attempting to out do another. Look at my shinny jars of food stuff! Aren't I amazing? I wasn't when I created it, but now that the heat is gone, I am. The coolness of the fall brings in all the optimism you had lost in the summer. You are amazed at the things you did through that heat. It doesn't matter if it was old hat, and you have a foggy recollection of doing it.

Winter, and the brutal cold emerges. You curse and spit at mother nature for constantly preforming this cruel joke. You go about your chores, bundled against the elements that thrust their bitterness at you, and you long for the spring and the summer's heat. Seed catalogs arrive in the coldest of January, and you picture yourself in your bountiful garden, your skin no longer the winter pale, but the color of clover honey. The sun radiant on your face, but you neglect to remember that detail of sweat and heat exposure. We like to forget, and only remember the good parts of it all. The heat will return, and you fall right back into the rhythm of autopilot and lose the focus of the actual bliss that is happening around you. But you know, it's ok. You will remember when the cold assaults you, as we always do.


Janelle said...

I have found that ice cream makes the really hot days look and feel much better :) My a/c doesn't work on my end of the house (where we always are), so we've had to find ways around it. Not to mention the fact that the chickens and animals require the constant waterings to produce/survive, so we have to be outside. I cannot say that I am looking forward to winter at all!! The memory is still too fresh.

HermitJim said...

That just has to be one of the most thralling and most descriptive pieces I have ever read bout the homesteading lifestyle!

Not only could I visualize each and every aspect of it, but the imagery was beautiful!

Believe me when I say I was and am proud of your efforts and your description. Thank you for sharing that with us!

The Thinker said...

Right there with you. When it gets this hot, I almost wish a hurricane would come and blow the whole garden to the ground so I'd have an excuse not to toil in it, miserable, every day.

It definitely kills the enthusiasm.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I loved this post....just loved it... for it's simplistic honesty. well done, girl! :)

Art Blomquist said...

You need a visit to mid B.C. at 9:44 a.m. it's a refreshing 56℉! We would melt in your temperatures..

Besides, this is the year I am going to learn how to can..

Zan Asha said...

What you have said is just beautiful, don't think there could be a better description out there of homesteading!

kymber said...

this post is so inspiring...full of the ugly truth and yet still full of all the beauty...

thanks for sharing this. it really touched me.

Kelle at The Never Done Farm said...

I've often said that it is the desire of my heart that spurns me forward and that I'm a glutton for punishment the keeps me battling on.

Many say, boy I bet you hate milking in the winter and much to their surprise my answer is "No, I'd rather bundle up to milk than to sit in a stuff barn, sweating up a storm, being hit by our cows tail for the uptenth time and bit by those little black biting flys.

Thanks for expressing the truth of it.

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