the holiday unwind

We left Cambridge at 4:52pm Sunday evening. It was already dark of course, being one of the ever-shortening Sundays after Thanksgiving. We figured that would put us back at the farm just before 8. We listened to an old episode of This American Life  as we left Boston, but mainly, we rode in silence. Thanksgiving had exhausted us. Two celebrations with two families in two states in three days. Everything is so extravagant for holidays. The food, the company, the noise, the activity, the dishwashing.

All of it is so amplified.

We live a quiet life by many metrics. Every day for us is just a slight variant on the day before. The food options rotate around a fairly dedicated group of farm and pantry staples; eggs, potatoes, oats, beans, beef, and milk. The company is commonly limited to us and our flock. Often that is peppered with visits from the neighbors. And, about once a week, we drive an hour south to see a group of old friends from another life. The noise is limited to the singing of the cast iron,  the sizzling of the dutch oven and our conversations with one another. Talk that most often starts off in the middle of a sentence as though a conversation the week before had merely been put on pause. Such is the intimate way you interact with someone who has become half of you. The activity follows the scared pattern of the farm. Rise. Coffee (and tea). Dress in more and more layers. Walk down to the barn. Chickens. Pigs. Hay to the beef cows. Fresh water to the sheep. Milk. We walk the hill back up to the house for a late breakfast. Eggs and oats and a tall glass of milk. The winter afternoons direct us to quiet activities that have no place in summer. Sanding down an old rocker. Mending fence in a once abandoned pasture. Drawing up grazing plans and garden maps.

So, it is no wonder with this quiet plodding through the days of late November that we are bouleverser-ed by the commotion of a holiday.

When the car wound its way up the final miles of our blessed dirt road it was 7:56pm. I was carefully wrapping my citified-self in stray farm layers I had in the back of the car. A moth-bitten and previously discarded cashmere sweater over my cardigan and dress. My blaze orange hat over some uncommonly coiffed hair. I eased my stockinged feet into wool clogs. We lifted ourselves out of the car just a quarter of a mile short of home. Nick slipped into the dark barn to close in the chickens and check on a frozen water line. I grabbed an armful of bedding straw to bring to the pigs. They were already hot asleep and snoring when I reached their hut. I had feared the sudden drop in temperature over the weekend would be too much for Rose with her sparsely bristled coat. Rose immediately jumped to the door when she felt my presence outside. I felt her belly, she was toasty. So was Vangogh. They were thrilled to see me. Assuming I had brought a midnight snack. I never bring snacks. I had just the hay, so they took mouthfuls of that and walked lazy circles around me and itched their dry backs on my stockinged legs. Vangogh went back to bed first. Ever the glutton for rest. Rose stayed. I sat there on my knees so our faces were level and scratched her chin with both hands.  She softly grunted and blinked her sleepy eyes right at mine.

And, I thought, just how very grateful, thankful, and blessed I am to have these creatures as my life. To return from a city that feels so very foreign with its lights, noise, consumption, pavement, and strangers to the quietude of the farm in winter.

I hope you all had a very merry Thanksgiving.


  1. I went "back home" last month to the two places I lived before coming to the farm. One, is what I once thought of as a small town, the other was Denver.

    It was great to see old friends and I enjoyed dining out and fancy coffees with friends. The traffic, noise, endless televisions and everyone attached to a phone was so hard to digest.

    It wasn't home. I flew home, drove the two and half hours from the airport to our town of 800 and was so glad to return to our very quiet life.

  2. nothing can make you feel more at home than the person you love at your side and sweet creatures welcoming you in. i always so look forward to your words and reflections, thanks for sharing and welcome home.

  3. perfect. I can think of no other words for your post. Thank you.

  4. The bond you have with Rose is just sweet. It makes me want a pig! I have a daughter who eats like one, so guess that's close enough ; )

  5. a frozen but also cozy post. lovely. thxs for sharing your thoughts.

  6. the barn yard folk really do speak and that is one of the greatest joys in my life too. i really enjoy reading about your place. very warm and real.

  7. I feel so peaceful after reading this post. Although we don't live on a farm here in Sicily, we do live in a very quiet corner of a rather sleepy town and we live very quiet lives right now. I love it.

  8. I dream of having my own farm one day. Posts like this fuel me to keep that dream alive and well. But one thing got me here: I always say I'll raise to eat a few pigs, a cow, some chickens. And then I read your second to last paragraph and wondered How?

  9. http://ahadleyhome.tumblr.comDecember 2, 2012 at 8:02 AM

    This is so beautifully written. It makes me feel thankful for blogs and that sense of connection that one gets when relate-able emotions are expressed so beautifully. Thank you fellow New Englander.


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