Happy New Year, Farmgirls!
It’s been awhile; and while so much has happened, much is still the same. I hope this finds you all well after a successful and joyful holiday season. This was the first holiday season for our family of 6 (after Covid derailed it all last year), and it was a wonderful couple of weeks with lots of family time, food and, of course, gift giving.
For many years my favorite holiday has been Winter Solstice, but we have never been able to truly make it into the celebration we dream of. We got mighty close this year! It is a magical time of the year with promises of brighter days ahead. The sun and moon seem to freeze in their roles for a few days surrounding the solstice, with barely any perceptible change in daylight vs. night. We celebrate here with books and all things cozy. This year, Evan gifted the books, and I gifted cozy wool slippers! We made a huge charcuterie board and snack buffet for us to graze all day so we could escape the (seemingly) never-ending “I’m hungry”s and “When is lunch/snack/dinner”? It was lovely!
While the other holidays during the season are also magical and wonderful (the joy of watching children’s surprise and gratefulness on Christmas makes all of the exhausting prep work more than worth it!), Solstice is where it’s at. For me it’s an-all-in-one holiday: celebration of the return of the sun, family time, feasting time, and a time to reflect on the past with a hopeful eye on the next revolution.
As January 1 approached, I did my dutiful job of thinking of goals and resolutions for the new year. I realized that I had spent the time between solstice and the “official” new year largely just doing what my mind and body wanted to do with limited pressure from work, school, extra chores, etc. We ate what we wanted to when we wanted to, slept when we felt like sleeping, worked on forgotten projects, read lots of books, played outdoors without any agenda, and watched movies.
While some (read: most) might see January 1 as a time to reset and start anew, a time to establish new habits and get rid of that which is not serving us…I realized that the time between solstice and the new year is my big, slow, long reset button! I know most of us are women who pride ourselves in our families, our animals, our gardens and our work. But these things can often distract us from our true selves, from our base beings, from our deep seated goals and passions. At least for me, putting all of the pressure for a reset or big shift into one day just doesn’t work. Allowing time to just be with my loves (while of course keeping up with the duties of water, food, shelter and love) gave me time to reflect, observe and sift through what is working for us and what is not.
With all that said, I didn’t come up with much except that I really do enjoy eating home made sweets every day and sleeping in. I also enjoy eating non-homemade sweets! I love spending undistracted and unscheduled time with my family. While these things are obviously not very sustainable with our current lifestyle, they were pertinent reminders of what is ultimately the most important: Love, time and kindness. Being distracted by the constant barrage of expectations and duties we experience in our day-to-day can really detract from what is important. Taking a long step back helped put things back into perspective. And this got me ready to sign up for a gym membership, become a vegan, and really focus on building my stock portfolio.
It did, however, get me ready to focus a bit more on myself; because when I take care of myself, I can take care of others much better, with more love and with less frustration. I’m ready to give up excuses that don’t serve the betterment of my family. I’m ready to say no to that which is excessively stressful and yes to joy-filled moments. As in all of life, there will be excessively stressful moments and time crunches and yelling and tears and all of that, but they can be less frequent. This I know and have known…but those couple of carefree weeks were a wonderful reminder!
And then we had a HUGE windstorm in our little Alaskan town starting on…you guessed it, January first! It persisted for 3-4 days, causing power outages and a lot of damage. Temperatures dipped below zero farenheit. Talk about a reset. 122mph wind gusts were clocked in the windiest places. We escaped unharmed up here, just with a yard full of many, many, many snowman arms. We are out of the main wind tunnel. People lost windows, roofs, play sets, trailers, port-a-potties, lumber, sleds, and boats. Drifts in some places are over ten feet tall of hard packed, cement-like, snow. Livestock owners had to have water delivered or drove with large tanks to fill up from those with water (private wells are a perk of rural living, but they are useless without power!). One of my friends lost all of her bees and chickens (chickens to a dog because the berms were so high around her chicken run). Another friend’s greenhouse blew away. Several friends have burst pipes and inaccessible driveways.
It is a mess…but as in all big messes like this, we see the helpers and power of community coming through. The linepeople are amazing! they were out in the frigid wind (windchills of -15 to -30 farenheit) up on poles and cherry pickers, sometimes having to take snowmobiles out on the power lines in the dark, blowing snow. Many people were still out of power for days (and some still are), but they kept huge swaths of people with frequent enough power to keep their homes warm (like ours, the coldest it got was 50 degrees). This storm has been dubbed “Windpocalypse 2022″ and the “Betty Whiteout 2022.” A state of disaster has been declared. Weather reports show we are in for more wind this weekend. Hopefully, the gusts are lower and the timeframe shorter.
In this natural disaster, I think we are all reminded of the futility of expectation. We cannot change the past or predict the future, we can just do the best we can in the present. The juxtaposition of the lazy, long nights surrounding solstice with the worrisome, hectic nights during an emergency show that a “reset” comes in many forms. Perhaps it’s from a long time of reflection, perhaps it’s out of necessity, perhaps it’s from a seemingly insignificant slight shift in realization or belief. It is clear, however, that one date cannot dictate when and how our reset buttons are pushed.
If you made a new year’s resolution, or if you said screw it–great! If you are, in fact, joining a gym, becoming vegan and building your portfolio–then all the more power to you! If you have decided that cookies are now a food group–you do you! If you are going to try your hardest to be more present in the present–I hear you.
All I’m hoping is that this new year brings you more of what you love. I hope you put your best foot forward when you can. I hope your expectations are low and the rewards are high. I hope you find joy in the day-to-day. I hope you have time to look within, love what you find, and spread that love. We don’t know what 2022 has in store (although it’s looking like…a lot), so let’s face it with peace and grace when we can.
Sending all of you SO MUCH peace and love from our windblown corner of Alaska.
Until next time,
Alex, The Rural Farmgirl.