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Anything but Bitter, In the Bitter Cold

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Anything but Bitter, In the Bitter Cold

I’ve noticed a bit of a change in North Dakota the past couple days.

We are through the holidays and on to the new year. We have taken the time to celebrate and rejoice. We took down our holiday decorations and braced ourselves for bone chilling cold of deep winter.

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We watched the temperatures drop. Not just to 0 or even -11. But to -27.

When the wind blew it felt like -55 in our backyard.

Yes, that is cold. Bitter cold. But are North Dakotan’s bitter? Not at all. If anything, I get a sense of optimism as I connect with people.

They know there is peace and they know there is hope. I am beginning to think this has something to do about how we manage to survive such harsh winters.

It gets cold. We wear layers. We invest in good socks.

We find ways to enjoy the winter. We bird watch. We ice fish. We take photographs. Ready to fish

We build our networks. We strengthen our relationships. We spend time with the ones we love.chilly kisses

We find excuses to stay inside. We find good reasons to turn on the oven.

We cook. We create. We read. We plan.

I am really beginning to enjoy the peaceful renewal winter brings.

We embrace it because we know it won’t last forever.

We let ourselves soften.

We look to our dreams.

We appreciate the moments we have.

We look toward the light of warmer days.

One day, spring will bloom again. We will plant the garden again. And it will grow.

 

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Quiet Moments

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Quiet Moments

Today is a good day for quiet moments

Quiet music,

Patient thoughts,

Simple food.

 

Today is a good day to reflect.

What is important?

What do I value most?

What nourishes my soul?

 

Today is a good day to let go

Of clutter,

Of darkness,

Of fear,

Of noise.

 

Today is a good day to be open.

To possibility,

To love,

To everything that surrounds us,

Even the things we do not know.

 

Today is the solstice.

It is a good day to carry on

Trusting,

Knowing,

Believing,

That tomorrow will bring a little more light.

Jam Tomorrow, Jam Yesterday

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Jam Tomorrow, Jam Yesterday

The icicles hang with such weight.

An accumulation of the season past.

Their fall will come with the season ahead.

They wait in the in-between.

The freeze and the thaw.

Freeze again.

Icicles in the window March 10, 2013

Icicles in the window March 10, 2013

So do we.

But we look forward to the seasons ahead.

We remember the warmth.

We remember the days, harvesting the garden, long ago.

They seem like only distant memories.

We look ahead, to the days when we will be planting the next garden.

But there is something still that keeps us connected.

Our seasonal way of living, here in the present, connects us to the bounty of years’ past and to the possibilities of the year ahead.

Jars of jams and jellies emerge from the dark cellar.

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They glisten in the light.

Greet us with exciting flavors.

Jalapeno.

Chokecherry-crabapple.

Apple-Basil.

Yellow-Tomato.

Raspberry.

Oh, raspberry!

We bid some farewell as we divide up the last tastes of their fruits.

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I wash the jars and return them to the basement.

Thinking back on fond memories.

  • The chokecherry- crabapple jelly.  Made from chokecherries that some of my students collected and shared. Then, paired with the crabapples from the tree that grows in our backyard. DSCN8124
  • The jalapeño jelly. So simple, yet so flavorful. An instant favorite. Sweet and tangy, a lovely wake up call.
  • Apple-Basil jelly. Made from the unwanted apples from our neighbor’s tree. A recipe so simple and a taste so elegant, there is no reason we shouldn’t have more in our storage, except that we gave so much of it away.
  • Yellow-Tomato jam. Another basil flavor, but with tomatoes, just as basil should be. And a wonderful way to use the excess of yellow pear tomatoes. This is the jam we have become known for making.
  • Raspberry. Oh, raspberry. This is the one my husband caught me eating spoonfuls of early this morning. This is the one we only have one jar of left. This is the one that makes me know that spring will come again.

And how grateful I am to have learned how to make these wonderful foods!

How grateful I am to have had the time to make these.

The weeks I spent in the kitchen making these feels so far away.

Not just through a tense of time, but emotionally.

Stuck in emotional and physical exhaustion,

Some days it was all I could do to get this ‘work’ done.

I trusted we would appreciate these flavors one day.

I reminded myself that the work of preparing, cooking, and canning was a choice.

Not for necessity.

In a sense, it was a luxury to be able to seek out such recipes.

Just as now, it is a luxury to enjoy the tastes of harvests past,

And to know there is more for the days ahead.

my mid-week break

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Wednesdays are great. I think they always have been. On this particular Wednesday, the sun is shining, the snow has stopped falling. Its mounded up in piles on street corners and molded around structures. It kinda feels like the last big one this year. DSCN8345

When I opened the door, a chorus of chickadees were singing, “Spring’s Here, Spring’s Here!” I’d like to trust them, but there was still one grumpy little bird singing it’s winter song. Maybe the young ones were just happy.

So this is my mid-week break. No daycare for my youngest, no scheduled work for me. Just sunlight and the freedom to choose what to do.

Maybe laundry.

Maybe reading my new favorite book, The Way of the Happy Woman.

Maybe reading my book club book for next week. I’ve got something like 400 pages to go, but I am just not feeling it. Maybe I need to adjust my expectations and give it a different kind of chance.

Maybe making some jewelry and multimedia art for the opening of the Upstage Gallery.

Maybe cleaning out the chicken coop and letting the chickens play in the snow. They might have a hard time though. They aren’t exactly built like buffalo.

Photo on 3-6-13 at 9.50 AM #3

The backyard, March 6 at 9:50am.

Maybe having some focused time with the crazy little puppy.

Cedar Jane at 3 months old, frustrated I won't let her in my office as I sort through old art work.

Cedar Jane at 3 months old, frustrated I won’t let her in my office as I sort through old art work.

There are plenty of possibilities and nothing of pressure. Its nice to not have pressure. It’s not about forcing anything to happen. It’s not about keeping anything from happening. It’s part of a process of opening to the world, one moment at a time.

This is what I’ve worked toward… Amen!