Good to Know

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, and Vermont and got its first foot of snow for the season.

Skiers were giddy. The woodstove was roaring, and, almost five years to the weekend after we got back on the grid, the power was out (again).

I’d gotten up at 5a.m. on to get the apple cinnamon oatmeal slow cooking on the back of wood cookstove. While the apples melted into the oatmeal, the Big Guy and I went out to dig out one of the cars so Thing2 could get to work.

Wet snow had bent dozens of trees down to our driveway, collapsing the canopy layers of lace curtains and cutting us off from the little bit of civilization that starts 1000 feet up our road. The Big Guy and I laughed as we shook branch after snow-laden branch, shrieking as the snow exploded off the loosened limbs, onto our heads and down our shirts.

We’ve talked about leaving this place in a few years to be closer to better healthcare options and to wherever the kids end up. Part of me won’t miss the digging and lighting of candles, watching the batteries to make sure the fridge and the well pump hold out until the power company has cleared the lines.

The other part of me knows that there is magic in the snow covered branches. There’s something else — not quite magical but almost as good – about all the work. As we pull out water jugs from our emergency supply and check the wood bin, I realize that, if ever we leave this place, the one part of these challenges I will miss is having the regular reminder that it’s good to know that we can get through them.

Watching a Saturday Go By

Working weekends torpedoes your social life, and, when you work at home with most of your work friends in different cities or states your social opportunities are limited to begin with. I compound those factors with a relatively introverted personality — I had almost perfected the shut-in lifestyle before I decided to go back to school to keep my brain from atrophying. So when plans go awry, as they did this weekend, you really feel it. Feelings get spackled over and patched up, but I find what really puts a new coat of paint on the weekend is getting a glimpse of the people and things that make life – shut-in or out-and-aloud — worthwhile.

Thing2, a study in social-butterflying, had his Saturday calendar filled before I knew that someone’s kid had been dropped off. He and his bestie headed out to re-enact their favorite Star Wars battles in the muddy, snow speckled yard. It’s a warmer day – in the fifties, and the boys disappeared into the woods for awhile, reappearing to prove that they were still breathing but dirty, only when I rang the school bell that hangs outside our front door. Katy-the-Wonder-Dog waited for them to tire out and, when they took a break, sitting down on the stoop on the deck, she went over to them to add a few kisses to her social calendar.

I stopped working long enough to appreciate how sometimes just watching that part of the world go by is as satisfying as any day out.

Cocooning

It was -17 this morning — so cold it froze the batteries in our brand new weather station.

These are the mornings our wood cookstove-heated earth-sheltered house wraps us up in a snowbound chrysalis. I got to pat myself on the back for having thought to get the wood bins overloaded Friday morning before the cold snap known as ‘Winter’ began in earnest.

As I cooked a farmer’s breakfast for our family who no longer has responsibility for anything resembling a farm animal (unless reformed barn cats count) or any intention of leaving the house for chores or pleasure until the mercury hits zero, I feel like Ma Ingalls in the Little House books. Then I remember that by this hour of an ordinary 17-below morning that Ma would have already done the farm chores and still be having a good hair day.

Just Another Day

5 2JustAnotherDay web

Two kids playing two different sports, with one assistant coaching the other, and our morning routine has shot to H E double hockey sticks.

We have not made the bus more than once in the last three weeks, and Monday was no exception. 

Monday was a two sport day with a golf tournament two towns away and a game for the other after school, so we loaded up the car with gear and got to the bus stop to see it pulling away. It was OK, it was an opportunity to go over the schedule for the night and review the to-dos for the rest of the week–testing and more testing for college, prom fittings, and of course the all-important play date. 

The last thing on my mind was creativity. I didn’t even have time to congratulate myself on setting the alarm clock two hours earlier to make sure it happened Monday morning. I’ve been drawing and sketching every day and working on illustrations for a children’s book but have not been in the mood to stop and soak up and/or paint the landscape.

The missed bus stayed two cars ahead of us for most of the drive out of our 300 person town. As we reached a main road, all I noticed that grey morning was the line of brake lights in front of us. 

Thing1, however, was scanning the entire scene as he waited to guide the car into what Vermont calls “traffic”. As I went through the to do list, he leaned forward and glanced up at the sky. Then he looked at the mountain that rows up behind the nondescript garage across the street.

“Mom,” he said, “look at that light. do you see that little sliver of sun hitting the hill?” I nodded no I had not and still didn’t look up as we had seen that particular hill at least twice a day every day for the last 16 years. 

Thing1 does not go gaga for art as his brother and I do. He draws very well, but his passions lie elsewhere so his next words demanded me to look up.

“Now that’s a painting,” he said.

I closed my list and listened and looked at the mountain. The parting clouds had refracted that sliver of sun so that the three-day-old leaves on the trees were infused with gold. Golden mist from the rainstorm that had past 10 minutes earlier diffused the details of the scenery in front of us, and just like that I was back into landscapes.

All it took was an overly busy, completely ordinary day and the observation of a kid who is pretty smart for a math major to point out the forest and the trees.

Post Peak

Peaking, Watercolor on canvas, 12x12, $70
Peaking, Watercolor on canvas, 12 x 12, $70

A wet and windy front moved through over the weekend, blowing tons of leaves off the trees. We’re post Peak now,  looking towards stick season, which is usually my favorite, but foliage season this year was especially long and glorious. I got this glimpse of the field near our house just before the front moved in  and wanted to paint it while the glow is still fresh in my mind.

 

 

 

 

Questions or to buy any of my work email me at rachel@rachelbarlow.com