The Peace of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry

It's been a long, frustrating semester in a lot of respects, and I'm only just now starting to feel it wind down. This week ended with a couple of packed but relatively productive days -- a welcome change in all respects from the preceding weeks and months. Monday has a list of chores waiting for me, but that's still 18 hours away, so I'll let it rest out of sight, and thus out of mind.

The first round of leaves is on the ground, reminding me that there's work yet to be done in the yard to make ready for the rapidly-encroaching cold. There are shrubs yet hungry for fertilizer, grass that will need a final shave and trim before I put the mower away, and speaking of the mower, a fuel line requiring repair.

Excavation-by-hand of the back yard slope for a retaining wall continues, if slowly, and new emphasis lies on the completion of the long-dormant chicken house, which needs doors, trim and a finished pen. Decisions are being taken for the breeds to be purchased this spring, with current thinking running largely to standard cochins and perhaps a few fancy bantams. Plans are also being laid for the acquisition of toulouse or brown Chinese geese to serve as companions and watchdogs, since the dog is about effective as a stone post when it comes to sounding the alarm.

The windows have a new coat of paint, the doors are painted and have new storm doors installed, the house has been pressure-washed for the first time in about 2 years, the new flower beds in the back are complete, screens are rehung, and the front door has been jacked and replumbed so it actually opens again.

Inside, the picture window is repaired following a recent visit by the manufacturer's technician -- who knew windows needed technicians? Mom's childhood hutch, which later served as a bookcase for me, has been repurposed (again) to serve as a china cabinet in the dining room, and will shortly hold a selection of the original Japanese Noritake for display. The old stationary trainer has been sold, the desk is on offer, and the library index and organization is largely complete. Christmas vacation plans include ripping out the carpet in the library and adding new furniture, hardwood flooring and paint. Or maybe just the flooring and paint. Who knows?

In the spring, we put a down payment on a turkey, and this weekend were rewarded with an organically-raised 12lb Red Bourbon, plucked and dressed. It's currently thawing in the refrigerator, awaiting a Tuesday brining and Wednesday roast. With so much family, it's funny how we hardly get leftovers any more, so we make our own excess of turkey.

Church this morning was a service of little-t thanksgiving. When Pastor Jay quizzed the congregation about what makes life worth living for them, I offered books by Terry Pratchett, and Emma offer "pasketti." I was reminded, again, how far above most of the world's standard my life is, and I remain grateful for that.

Today is a gorgeous day, cold but brilliantly clear. One of the razor sharp days of autumn-passing-to-winter that I adore. I'm thankful for that, as well.

Thanksgiving is sweeter than bounty itself.
One who cherishes gratitude does not cling to the gift!
Thanksgiving is the true meat of God’s bounty;
The bounty is its shell,
For thanksgiving carries you to the hearth of the Beloved.
Abundance alone brings heedlessness,
Thanksgiving gives birth to alertness.
The bounty of thanksgiving will satisfy and elevate you,
And you will bestow a hundred bounties in return.
Eat your fill of God’s delicacies,
And you will be freed from hunger and begging.