It is Sunday, the last before school begins, the first of this new year. While the real Day was Thursday, it is today that truly feels as though a new beginning is just around the corner. We have weathered serious weather, exchanged precious and silly gifts, celebrated the calendar with good friends, and treated ourselves to a sumptuous and frankly divine 24 hours of city life, courtesy of my generous father and stepmother. The tonic effect of leaving the farm and the island is invigorating.
Now we're ready for 2009.
I think we are in good company - almost everyone I know or read has happily closed the door on 2008 and thrown away the key. A new president, a new hope, and lots of work to be done to create a new future. Folks are ready to roll up their sleeves and see what some elbow grease generates.
Here on the farm, some of our next generation of hens have begun laying, plopping out the tiny gems that are the first few eggs of any chicken's production. Our raggedy-looking ewes are showing signs of carrying this Spring's lambs, and our plans to develop farm-based products for market are taking shape.
Dylan and Mark are learning our recording software by making music together in Mark's "studio," (AKA our den). Nothing makes me smile more than watching the two of them together creating art. Years of piano angst, tears, fights, and the tedium of practice are finally turning into a shared love of making music with Dad. Recently emerged is a self-awareness that this skill, this knowledge of notes, this reading of music, is a gift earned and taken into his future forever. Over the holidays, Dylan played Christmas tunes in public - at our local coffeehouse. The joy of applause and tips lasted across many days. I hope it will inspire him throughout this next year.
In so many ways, now feels like a new beginning. A new year, the end of ice and snow and housebound-ness. New projects in Dylan's classroom, new ideas to bring Stop Sign Farm into self-sufficiency, new adventures for the eldest among us - teaching islanders oil painting the Midge Grace way. 2009 could prove very interesting indeed.
We've got Mark's job ending sometime in the fall, an economy either in free-fall or on the cusp of a new New Deal, a farm with a foundation finally almost laid. It's scary, but most precipices are. It's time to jump, and 2009 is our appointed year to explore our options and see what makes sense.
At other moments, it all feels like so much folly and gloom. The property is all mud, the animals are wet and miserable, the plants are suffering from recent frost and heavy snow, the claws of free-range chickens, and all-around neglect. I have a month of pruning duties stretching before me and still have to plant dormant nut trees and protect the roots of babies I planted in the fall from curious and hungry hen feet.
But, the fall of the greenhouse has, perhaps thanks to our friend David, released us into rethinking where things should be. We have re-imagined our greenhouse to live alongside our chickenrun and our chickenrun to co-exist more harmoniously with our garden and suddenly a sort of symbiotic compound has taken shape in our minds. Out of the gray, desolate, and seemingly interminable winter comes some new beginnings.
Welcome, 2009. We're ready for you.