Like most everyone at this time of year, I’m looking at the brand new year with a mixture of reflection on what’s just past, and the eternal hope for what’s to come. This year started off much differently than last year, with a mild day and sunshine in the afternoon. On January 1 last year, everything was frozen solid, and I said goodbye to my beloved Cutter that day. I can hardly believe it’s been a full year already. I still remember that last, awful night with him, not sleeping as I listened to him, and knowing what the morning held for me. I didn’t let it color my year overmuch, or believe that the rest of the year would be just as awful, but there’s no denying that 2011 was one I won’t forget. With Dinah’s passing only three months after Cutter, the dye was set for that. Daisy’s arrival nearly two months later has had me smiling once again (and sometimes pulling my hair out, I won’t lie 😉 ), but the loss of those two beauties, one who became an iconic, life changing part of me, is still painful. Then there’s the loss of two of my cats in July. I can still barely speak of Jasper – it took a week to sink in, but once it did… Yeah, it’s been one for the books.
On the upside, I’m sitting here in the quiet of my little home with my three beloved canines on the sofa, and the remaining cat sitting behind me on the chair, purring if I so much as look at him or shift my seat in the chair. Sometimes I just have to pinch myself that this little place is really mine, that I have a small acreage, just like I’ve always wanted, with livestock and a big garden as I’ve always dreamed. Growing up my family never owned our own home; we always rented and I have many memories of strangers coming through the home(s) we rented, viewing it as potential buyers, then having to move when the landlord(s) sold it. Being fortunate enough to own my little farm–almost the dream farm I want–is something I don’t take lightly. I continue to dream of course, and have things I want to do (work from home, grow/make/sell products that originate here) or acquire (I’d just about give my eye teeth for a mudroom in this little place – the slop the dogs bring in is epic – and a pickup truck is definitely on the agenda; being able to haul my sheep, or more than one bale of hay at a time, or a load of gravel or compost… yeah, a girl can dream), in an ever-evolving life and goals.
As we look ahead to 2012, I hope for a better economy and a political process that is less contentious and more aware. I’ve not engaged in political talk on this blog, but the current state of affairs, with polarization having become so ingrained in our political process – it’s no longer about the good of the country, or the good of the people, it’s about us vs. them – I’m disheartened and weary. A friend emigrated to Canada four years ago and I’ve become more and more envious and interested in the past several years. We have so much potential, yet are so mired in the petty and the absurd. I am hopeful that the Occupy movement will continue to evolve into something we all can appreciate and join in, to make things better for all. I don’t want revolution so much as evolution (though unfortunately humans can’t seem to manage the latter without the former) and an understanding by all of what’s really happening and what’s at stake. And with the knowledge will come the ability to turn it around. I am hopeful.
I’ve received a couple of seed catalogs in the past few weeks, so am of course drooling over the many varieties of vegetables I want to grow this year. My garden was a big part of my year in 2011; the prep work, the planting, and then the harvesting of, a bounty that seemed magical in its almost endless abundance. Jack and the beanstalk was a piker compared to my King Kale! The success of the garden was life affirming and one of those things that make you realize what really matters to you. I’m looking forward to expanding my patch this year, trying some different plantings, growing new varieties of ones I love, and really getting my medicinal herb garden underway. And strengthening my connection to the land.
My beehive was another little earthquake in my awareness last year. It heightened my reverence for life, for nature, and for its relevance in my life. I fell in love with 40,000 honeybees in April and am still as excited as the day I brought them home. They’ve been out a few days over the holiday season – we had some odd snatches of mild weather in between freezing cold and torrential rains – and I was so glad to see them again. When I came home from an errand on New Year’s Day there were so many out and flying it almost looked like a summer evening. I was thrilled to see so many of them. I’m resisting opening the hive to take a peek (it hasn’t been that warm!), but will do so as soon as possible in the coming months. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they’re surviving okay (there have been plenty of dead soldiers, though not an excessive amount…I don’t think) and have plenty of honey stores to make it through the next couple of months – or until I can open things up and put in the feeder for them. I am looking forward to becoming more knowledgeable about beekeeping (time and experience, after all) and maybe even adding a second hive this spring. I heart my honeybees!
So as we begin this new year, I continue to count my blessings – Pal and Daisy are now playing in the next room, Daisy sounding so much like a Wookie that I swear I should have named her Chewbacca. She’s such a tomboy, and of the bull-in-a-china-shop variety, that I sometimes wonder if I “picked” the right name for her. Farley is close beside me, his countenance so appealing and endearing that I have a hard time restraining myself. The slightest of glances at him has his tail wagging, thumping the floor and happy. And always ready to play. Or for a treat. The sheep are munching hay in their shed, protected from the drenching rain of the past week. The chickens are roosting in their coop, snug and warm. And we all dream of our perfect future to come.