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Not So Mighty After All


Nearly every day I intend to come here and write a few things down, but the hazy pre-dawn window that is perfect for such things quickly passes and the day begins in earnest. Keyboard and blue-lit screen left in the dust. Sometimes I wish I could accomplish an entire day’s efforts in the first four hours of wakefulness; it is such prime-time. Physically, emotionally, creatively. But the sprawl is before me and as much as I’m inclined to stack the tasks of my life, I still find myself in the garden at 7pm picking raspberries and pruning tomatoes. There’s always one more thing this time of year. I like it though, not exactly sure why, but I do. 

It’s going to be a big canning year for us. Every year I can applesauce, salsa, and marinara, but condiments such as relish, bread and butter pickles, jams, ketchup, etc., seem to be in 2-3 year rotations. I should probably schedule all of that better so there’s some balance in the workload, because all of a sudden we run out of everything. Canned a bunch of peaches and I’d like to do another batch or two. I know, wrecked all of the nutrients in doing so, but I figure there’s a lot worse I can do for my health than a weekly jar of joy-inducing peaches in the dead of winter. 

We’re seeing a lot of coyote here lately, in broad daylight, close to the garden and house. My aunt texted me last night - their property borders the back of ours - and they’ve seen three at their place this week. Last night while working in the garden our other neighbor mentioned that he saw one in our back field two days ago. Most coyote have about twenty pounds on our dog, but size advantage aside, Scout's not exactly the most menacing fella. Keeps you paying attention. Coyote are the one animal seen with frequency around here that reminds me humans are not so mighty after all. Maybe a few people in big-league power would benefit from the humility of time spent with coyote. I recall a couple of winters ago we had one in our backyard, right next to the house. Look in each others eyes kind of close. I felt so small. There’s not much of a record reporting humans on the coyote menu, but they are hungry critters who are not satiated by woodland flora.

Anyway, lots of sightings, and that feels important. Like wild turkey, we never saw any coyote growing up, now we’re practically naming them. They are beautiful though. And have very sharp teeth. 

A Handy Place to Reside


Maine. All taken within the span of a few hours. What an amazing world. 

I’ve lost track of time this summer and am surprised to find that I don’t really mind. Also surprisingly, I’m not discouraged by our less than fruitful property search. We’ve got a good Plan B in place (actually, I think it’s Plan D at this point), and we’re just rolling with it. Besides, it’s hardly an ideal time for my parents to put this house on the market. Sometimes I wonder if we’re supposed to buy this place and straddle two worlds between here and Vermont, but damn if Connecticut isn’t in the top three states that people are fleeing in record numbers. Cost of living and property taxes are impossibly high, land use restrictions are even higher, and in general there’s not much to offer (though our raw milk and homeschool laws are exemplary). Flashback 100 hundred years and Connecticut was bucolic, a total stunner. Her once fertile river valley soil is historically considered some of the best in the nation. Those were the days! At least the stonewalls haven’t moved, and much of the old New England architecture is intact. Two of my favorite things. I was pleased to read Ben Falk describe a recent visit to Connecticut, how he admired her stonewalls, describing them as “the eighth wonder of the world.” 

In some ways it feels good to lose track of time. Or, as I described to someone yesterday, it’s like I’m living inside the absence of time. It’s a handy place to reside when life feels momentous and much needed six hour therapy sessions are spent inside the garden gate, not so handy when you’re supposed to remember things like paying bills and making dinner. But the bills need paying and dinner still needs cooking, so you figure it out. Most days. 

During the spring session of Country Kitchen, it somehow came up to share YouTube channels that we enjoy. I always feel like I disappoint people when I share the blogs/books/podcasts/YouTube channels that I enjoy because for whatever reason, they aren’t usually of the feminine or homemake-y variety, which I’m probably more associated with than what my viewing/reading/listening pleasure portrays. Nonetheless, just as the only podcast I never miss an episode of is Rewild Yourself, the one YouTube channel that I’ve (almost) watched in its entirety over the last year is Boss of the Swamp. On many days, The Boss is my dishwashing companion. I think some of you will enjoy his content, too. He lives up here in the northeast, so I find his personality and way of life relatable and familiar. And man if he isn’t the zen MacGyver of the backwoods. So much to learn and observe through his videos. Things are pretty well organized in his playlists, making it a breeze to navigate content. I recommend starting with the Back to My Roots and New Hampshire Cabin Project playlists. 

But for now, I’ll share this one video because it perfectly illustrates an idea I’ve had for a couple of years, even sketched it out a few times with moderate clarity, but his version is total perfection and I have no shame in saying I hope to copy it someday. Like our camp shower set-up, I don’t think you have to be without access to the grid to benefit from back-up systems like these. You never know. And if you live in the north, how great to unplug the refrigerator for six months out of the year. Anyway, if you're into really clever people or passive refrigeration, you'll appreciate the above video. 

Hope your summer is going well. Things are pretty relaxed inside this absence of time bubble we seem to be living in. I’ll take it.