This is the time of year for wrapping up the harvest, putting the period at the end of the six-week-long sentence during which we sustainable-living types in Maine put up an entire year’s worth of food. That’s pretty astounding, when you think about it. Fifty-two weeks’ worth in just over a month. It crams a lot of work, stress, and expectations into a short amount of time, but it is the price we pay for living in the glorious land of four seasons.
This is also the time of year in which homesteaders must get really serious about getting firewood cut and split, if it’s not done already.
There are plenty of other chores to keep me and The Mister busy nowadays, too. We need to be ripping out gardens, turning over compost, cleaning out barns, stocking up on hay, shoring up fenceposts, and keeping an eye on the weather for the threat of frost.
But rather than doing all that—or any of it, actually—this past long weekend, we traveled out of state instead. Oh sure, I know. Go ahead and tsk-tsk. What kind of practical prepsteader goes gallivanting off to Connecticut when there’s so much work to be done at home?
The kind whose son is getting married, that’s what kind.
It was a delightful affair from start to finish. Even though I generally am a white-knuckled passenger in any city bigger than Augusta, the traffic wasn’t bad and my anxiety was minimal and The Mister was his usual patient self.
We found a refreshingly un-fast-food-like option at an interstate service center where we enjoyed rice bowls and smoothies and were glad to have traded in the heavy calorie-laden burgers and fries that had commandeered highway fare in past years.
The rehearsal dinner was a sumptuous parade of filet mignon, lobster risotto, champagne beurre blanc, and crème brulee. The wedding dinner itself was no less delectable. The music was wonderful, the weather was perfect, and the dancing swept us off our feet.
All of those features paled in comparison to the beauty of the people around us. Old friends, new ones, a smattering of family, the handsome groom and his radiant bride—it was all magical, really.
“When is the last time we went for this many straight days eating meals we did not fix ourselves?” I asked The Mister. “And didn’t cut from a stalk or pull from the ground or extract from a goat udder, for that matter?”
Indeed. It had been so long that neither of us could remember.
It was strange to be off the farm. We traded in our down-home farm fare for dining in a place where it mattered what fork we used. Smelly farm boots stayed home, and we wore slicked-up dress shoes instead. Grubby tee shirts and jeans gave way to silk ties and handkerchief hems.
The television in our hotel room came in without adjusting the antenna, and there were no coyotes howling in the night to wake us.
During the drive home after the festivities came to a close, probably while we were sitting in stopped traffic for a half hour at the interchange between highways, I realized that I had not given any real thought to matters at home for the entire trip. The house, the dog, the cat, the chickens, the goats, the milking, the gardens—all had been shipped off to the land of Someone Else’s Responsibility.
I can count on one hand the number of times we have physically left the farm for an overnight since we took up this lifestyle in 2007. But even then, enough of the farm went with us mentally and emotionally to make us feel like we hardly left.
This time was different. For the first time ever, we left left. Our hearts were truly somewhere else, in a place that we were glad to be.
That’s not to say we didn’t want to come home, though. If you happened to be driving across the Kittery Bridge and noticed people belting out a song so loud you could almost hear it at seventy—that was us. That’s right. It was the Maine State Song, and what better place to sing it?
“I don’t know all the words,” The Mister said when I started prepping him for our duet about halfway through New Hampshire. It was all right, I assured him. Just sing really loud and the words won’t matter. He was dubious, but it was great.
A few hours later, we were greeted by an overjoyed dog, a cat that oscillated between being happy to see us and indignant that we left, and the bucolic sight of our beautiful herd of sleek red-brown goats grazing in the peaceful pasture. We were home, and it was as if we had never left.
In the end, what more can any of us ask for, than to live the kind of life that allows us to escape once in a while but welcomes us back with open arms?
It was good to go, and good to come back. And for both, we are grateful.