The cool evening air nips at my cheeks as I head back down the hill, lugging the full three-gallon waterer for my chickens. I re-open the end of the ark where I keep their food and water, but they take no notice of me, still engaged with the treasure hunt of finding scratch grains that I scattered in the leaves on my first trip down.

I position the waterer on a bit of broken cinder block, wedged to keep it as level as possible, since nothing on our land is ever truly level (except, one would hope, the house itself!). All in a day’s work living on a hill.

When I unscrew the plastic stopper, water blurps out into the red tray that matches the combs and wattles on my four birds. One comes to drink, the others are still more interested in scratching. It is, after all, something they’re very good at.

My bare feet slide in my work boots as I climb back to the house; I often stuff them in without socks to do this chore. As I approach the house, it strikes me that I am suddenly looking the sun in the eye as it sinks slowly behind the low hills on the other side of the valley where our road runs. Somehow being level with the sun gives me a huge expansive feeling and I stretch out my arms to embrace the world.

Otto, our boxer, comes up along side me to enjoy the view, but before too many minutes have passed I hear the low whine in his throat that tells me he’s cold and thinks it’s time to go inside.

I pat him on his graying head and push open the back door to find my husband curled up in our oversized chair, reading to Eli.

My heart is full.

I am thankful.

What is most needed

Something’s been changing in me as I embrace this new season in my life, a season that has come with as many changes and surprises as the fall wildflowers blooming next to my house because neither of us has had the time to weed around the foundation.  And yet most of what is growing out there are flowers.

I walk among them in wonder and point out the different colors and shapes to Eli and think of how the plants growing there, growing where I didn’t plant them, where I didn’t plan them, chafed at me just weeks ago, before they burst into bloom and put my impatient thoughts to shame.

There’s a dailyness to life that used to chafe at me as well.

I would try to “trick” myself into doing the chores because I like a clean house, but I didn’t like the chores, so I’d tell myself that I had to do them because I liked the clean and organized house more than I didn’t like getting it there.

Surprisingly that never worked consistently and things kept falling into disorganization and clutter.

Now I check on my peacefully sleeping baby on the monitor, hang the quilt on the clothes line to dry in the fresh fall breeze, and unload the dishwasher so there’s a place for dirty dishes from our day to go, I find a satisfaction and a joy in the most basic of chores.

I read an awesome quote in a novel recently:

At first he had dreaded the dawns that brought him, weary as if he had not slept, from the straw pallet by the hearth to the seemingly endless labor awaiting him; but he soon rediscovered, as Coll had told him long ago, that he could force himself to plunge into it as into an icy stream, and find refreshment, even in his exhaustion.

Taran Wanderer, Lloyd Alexander

Somehow this quote has helped me purge the “do not wants” that used to take over and convince me to put off doing what needed to be done.

Well, that and never knowing how much time I have before Eli wakes up and needs me again has taught me to categorize things into what is most needed if I only get one thing done.

And sometimes what is most needed is not to load the dishwasher, but to write the words that welled up inside of me while I was unloading it, or to sit and read a book that inspires me while I sip some coffee, warm for once, and feed my soul.  The laundry and dishes can wait sometimes, there’s a balance to this to be remembered, living neither in chaos nor so tied to doing each chore every day that I don’t have time to run back outside with my camera and take pictures of the daisies blooming at the foot the clothesline supports or to find the first red leaf of fall waiting for me in the grass as I walk back to the house.

I’m loving the rhythm and challenges that are intrinsic in this season… Now, off to reboot the laundry 😉