When we finally moved to the cabin, it had been nearly twenty years since the birth of this dream. The grand plans for restoration and building were gone. We came with only what would fit in the small space and settled in, waiting to see how our dream would unfold.
At first we filled our days with trips to town for lunch, antiquing, a visit to the public library for library cards, outings to photograph old barns. Then we found ourselves sleeping later, waking to the sun slanting through the upstairs windows or a woodpecker tapping. We’d rise and fall into a simple routine. Stove to stoke. Coffee beans to grind. Oranges to peel and cut up for breakfast. Eggs to fry or oatmeal to simmer with raisins. Toast to make. After breakfast we’d drift to our separate spaces to pay bills, do dishes, write, reflect. Early afternoon we’d look around and notice the chores to be done inside and out. Apples to pick. Wood to chop. Pine needles to rake before the first snow. An old wasp’s nest to remove from the eaves. Apple Butter to make. Tomatillos to chop into salsa. Sheets to hang on the line. Dinner to prepare. And so the days began to take on a comfortable shape.
Today the Golden Glow below the porch need rescuing. Tall and gangly they sway in the late-summer breeze tangling their skinny necks, whispering sisters once their bright gold heads lock together. A big windstorm knocked them down two nights ago. Most summers just a heavy rain will do it. We head out together with saved twine and green tape, bending and gathering, holding fistfuls of stalks together while the other ties. They are taller than we are, like sheaves of wheat now. I gather the broken ones for a jar on the kitchen windowsill.
August is gone and summer with it. I feel it in the air. Sheaves of Golden Glow are just one of the signs. I find myself thinking already of soups for supper, and this afternoon, biscuits. I tie my apron on and retrieve the leftover baked sweet potato from the fridge. The pastry cutter rasps against the stainless steel bowl as I cut butter into flour, sugar, and baking powder. I stir in the mashed sweet potato and milk, then pat the soft dough into a circle on the floured cutting board. My thoughts go to Grandma as I cut biscuits, remembering the dusting of flour on her aproned belly as she’d leaned into this same board to lift rolled crusts into pie plates. I slide the pan in the oven.
We carry soup and biscuits to the porch. The sailboats are out. Our two eagles coast and dive, returning to the pines empty-handed. The branches bend low as they land, then settle back in three slow bounces. They don’t notice us. Once again, I am surprised by a thought. “This is enough,” these ordinary moments, this beauty, the next season so close I can feel its breath, this simple life that requires our bending together at tasks. Like the big rocks down at the shore, our rough edges are being worn smooth by the rhythms of our days. I remember the epiphany I had as a girl watching Grandma peeling a potato for supper, as if it were important, as if there was nothing else she’d rather be doing. The image remained in my mind’s eye, a lesson, though I couldn’t have explained its meaning back then. It is just now in these ordinary days, that its mystery unfolds.
6 thoughts on “Still life”
I can totally relate to this — the cottage culture, grandma, simpler life, etc. 🙂 (No cabin of our own yet; hope that changes but we’re already middle-aged and not well-off.) Beautifully written; look forward to more.
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Thank you Robin for these encouraging words! So sweet of you. Glad you found me and I hope you find your cabin. There’s still time. I know ours was a long time coming. Sorry I took so long responding. I’m just getting the hang of things.
Many things you write about make me slow down, reflect, and thank the Lord for the blessings of my husband, my children, and my grandchildren, and, yes, the 35+ year-old-house that I still love. Yes, “this is enough.”
Im so glad. I write to encourage myself to do the same. Thank you!
What a wonderful read . I love the line “like the rocks below our rough edges are being worn smooth by the rhythms of our days “.
Thank you John! How fun that you are reading.