Thursday, September 30, 2021


First evening fire of the season, amid all the comforts of home: a balm at summer's end, a beacon on winter nights. In the lexicon of homesteading, there are few things more satisfying than the knowledge that the wood is stacked and covered and will last till spring. All of ours is stowed neatly in the basement, within dry and easy reach during snowstorms. We've got plenty of kindling and paper starter. The new green logs are outside, tarped and curing. Only a shelf filled with canned tomatoes would give me the same kind of farmwife frisson--but, alas, my jars are empty. I just don't have the quantity to fill a canner, so I settle for second-best and sauce them for the freezer.

Today, on the last day of September, I am sitting in my accustomed couch corner, in my accustomed red bathrobe, holding my white cup-and-saucer of black coffee, and feeling extremely grateful to be here. Things are going well in Vermont; everyone is holding up and--finally--beginning to relax into optimism. I don't need to feel guilty about coming home, and I am not feeling guilty. I spent much of yesterday catching up on piles of laundry, cleaning floors, and dealing with my harvest: making tomato sauce, freezing green beans, picking broccoli and peppers. I made a big vegetable gratin for dinner and a sour cherry flan for dessert. I fiddled with some class marketing and planning, both for the Frost Place and for a possible Monson Arts day-long session for vaxxed high schoolers. I read books, and I talked on the phone to Paul, and I looked forward to Tom's arrival home from work.

Today I've got bathrooms to clean, grass to mow, garden clean-out to begin . . . but mostly I need to reinsert myself into my poet mind. I'm going to sit down with the Iliad and then turn to some of my own recent drafts; and whether I end up actually writing or not, I will at least know that I've given the work its due space and attention. As Donald Hall reminded me, when I was reading his essays in Seasons on Eagle Pond, I am a poet who frames her life with the agricultural seasons. I am not a farmer who moonlights as a poet on winter nights. It's important to recognize which vocation is my true one.

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