> jumping into life.


It's funny and a little amazing how the kitten has transformed our home. Her bright energy lights the place now, even when she's asleep. She's full of mischief and the requisite curiosity. She likes to help - with laundry, with sweeping, and with making the bed especially.

She is so thoroughly herself, so full of her own desires and goals. I suppose that's obvious, but it's somehow easy to forget when you've lived without a pet for some time - that they are creatures complete unto themselves. Cats especially, who keep secret their unfathomable motives.

At night she burrows down between us and purrs herself to sleep, but once walking to the bathroom I saw her in the moon-lit square of the sliding glass door, staring out into the darkness, silent. She is a great devourer of crickets and spiders, but when she finds a ladybug she will sit primly with her tail wrapped around her paws and watch it, following carefully when it crawls out of her sight. She comes when called only if she has nothing better to do, but she comes running to the door to greet us almost always when we get home.

And somehow, it feels like we're a family now, rather than just a couple. Obviously she isn't a baby, and she's too autonomous and also too sharp to be a very good stand-in. But she is very small, and very sweet when she isn't being possessed by wild cat-spirits. And I do love her, from the bottom of my bottomless heart.


Mostly I have the same dreams. It's always been that way - probably 60 or 70 percent of my dreams recur at least a few times. They don't bore me, because I have so many of them, hundreds still even if they go into reruns. Some of them are so common I know immediately that I'm dreaming; some of them are nightmares from which I've become quite skilled at waking myself. Some only repeat twice or three times, with months in between. Once I dreamt the same dream every night for two weeks.

And then sometimes, I have new dreams every night. It almost makes me uneasy, not knowing where I'll be when I fall asleep. Often times, even if the dream itself is different, it takes place in one of a handful of familiar landscapes - there is a dream version of my childhood home, of Tassajara, a dream mountain where I hike and where most flying dreams begin, other houses, rivers, kingdoms. Sometimes I resist waking because the dreams are so intricate, so brocaded with meaning and detail that I hate to leave them. Sometimes they seem brighter and more substantial than the day that follows. Sometimes I wonder if they aren't more real.


For the hills outside the window and their ever-changing colors and the ever-changing clouds that hold them. For the chickens dustbathing in the late-November sun. For the chicken I will eat with my true love tonight. For my true love, and the eyes he has that see into my fears and hopes and lies and dreams, for which I am rarely thankful at the time. For my own eyes that see and hands and arms and legs that grasp and lift and hike the hills. For the kitten who tries to help me fold the laundry. For a warm place to sleep at night and a belly full of food. For a winter's worth of squash and potatoes, rutabagas and carrots, tucked away. For the family whose love I've never doubted. For knowing what I want my life to look like, and for a life that already looks very much that way. For a good book and a cup of tea. For good soil and soft rain. For blueberry pie and pumpkin spice cake and coffee stout and love. And love. And love.


It is thoroughly November. The gaudy pagentry of October is well behind us now, and the serene, clear beauty of snowfall yet to come. Fields of sod cling to their green, but the trees have abandoned everything. The hills have retreated back into themselves.

Soon everything will be pen-and-ink, drawn starkly by the snow. But not yet. November is a muddled pallette, a great watercolor bleed of sepia, soil, and sky. The edges all smudged (the bright leaves turning back to dark soil) and feathered (the bare braches shading into bone sky).

Our new field is soaking wet. This valley all used to be the bottom of the sea, and the bottom of a great lake, and when the waters pulled back they left many and heavy deposits of clay. Rain two nights ago left water in the plow furrows which stands still today. Another spring like last spring - wet and cold and wet - and we may not be able to get into the field in time for first plantings.

Still, we craft our plans. The seed catalogues begin to arrive. Lots of people farm in clay soils. It will be alright.

And November rolls along on its creaky wheels. The kitten doubles in size, then doubles again, and is still so small that she can sleep in the tiny wedge of space between J and I when we curl up together. The teapot begins warming up for winter duty. We pull the heavy boots and down jackets out of their boxes, put away the summer dresses and sandals and broad-brimmed hats. In our new greenhouse, we prepare the soil for winter carrots and spinach and beets. We wish for a woodstove. We put the sleds out in the shed, easy to hand for the first good snow. November is nearly past, and winter, oh winter is coming.


The first rule of combating SAD: if it's sunny, go outside.

Even if you don't want to. Especially if you don't want to.

Go for a walk, go for a run, fork over the compost, rake some leaves, shovel the walk. Stand outside for five minutes on your lunch break and text your best friend. Just keep your eyes open so the sunlight can hit the back of your retinas, because apparently that's where it's needed.

There'll be days this winter when the sky never really lightens, days of sleet and cold and dark. But there will also be clear, sunny days, when the snow makes for a brighter light than ever summer brings. When those days come, don't spend the whole damn time indoors. If it's sunny, go outside.

The other first rule? Start early. Start now.