I have come to the conclusion that, although I love my current lifestyle dearly and have no desire to go back to the rat race, it is very difficult to appreciate the simple pleasures fully when you still have one foot in the working world. Weekend homesteading is not for the faint of heart.
Take laundry, for example. I was thrilled when I got my wringer washer, because it meant no more days wasted at the laundromat. I initially enjoyed the ritual of washing. But now it seems I have to plan my weekends around the inevitable loads of laundry that have piled up during the week, and with three children and The Hermit doing construction, there are loads. I have decided I have only patience (and clothesline space) for three loads a day. I'm still trying to figure out how I can work in a load or two in the morning or evening during the week. The other option is to go through fewer changes of clothing, and my younger two would probably be happy to run around naked, but although my dress is extremely casual at work, I still need to wear something that is clean and presentable. And The Hermit refuses to work with power tools in the buff, which is probably a wise decision.
I love canning and putting up the harvest from my garden, but again there is the time factor. I was going to try making crabapple jelly from the crabapples we picked the weekend before last, but stemming and cutting the small fruits, pleasurable as it was, took so much time that I only got as far as extracting the juice. It was worth it, however; the aroma and flavor of fresh crabapple juice is exquisite, and the deep red color will make a beautiful jelly. Since this is my first ever foray into jelly making, I decided to save the juice until I had the time and energy to fully concentrate on the task. I have just over a quart and a half of juice, but Calvin wanted to go pick more crabapples on Sunday afternoon so I have another five gallon bucket sitting there waiting for next weekend. I'm thinking the jelly might make great Christmas gifts if it turns out well, so I want to make as many half pints as I can. The Hermit also wants to soak some crabapples and a little sugar in vodka to make a liqueur; sounds good to me.
Of course all of this cooking requires some sort of fuel, which my one foot in the working world pays for. We buy hundred pound cylinders of propane from the local service station. We were in the middle of preparing dinner Saturday evening, and I tried to light the stove to fry zucchini, when...nothing happened. Out of gas. It was 6:30, and I knew the service station closed at 6. I thought we were SOL; I didn't want to go into such deep homesteading skills such as cooking over an open fire just yet. But The Hermit called the owner of the station at home and asked if there was any chance we could pick up a bottle of propane. "I'll be right there!" was the reply. Not "Sorry, we close at six." That's one of the great things about living where there is a sense of community.
Still, by Sunday afternoon of a two-day weekend, I get to feeling a bit melancholy, especially this time of year. There's so much to do here, and I don't mean chores and housework, I mean fun stuff like fishing in Sand Creek (not done yet), walking in the woods (not done often enough), riding bikes on the gravel roads (still have to get mine fixed so I can shift gears), or just sitting by the creek listening to the water. There's a gorgeous patch of asters just up the road that I want to photograph, but I haven't gotten there yet. The kids will be going off to school on Thursday, and I feel like I barely spent any time with them doing all of these things. Calvin had to practically drage me fifty yards into the woods yesterday, to show me "a beautiful spot". It's at the base of two giant white pines growing close together, and I agreed with him it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I want to put a comfortable chair there some day, and actually spend some time relaxing there, enjoying the beauty that is so close by.
I may have one foot still in the working world, and I hope to pull that foot free some day, but at least my other foot is in a place that I love, where moments like these are there for the taking like wild crabapples.