> jumping into life.


three bowls of soup.
hot. fast.
the woodstove

isn't coming.
put on a hat.
pull up a ladle.

are you ready
for the longest night?

& the long, long cold.
i am.


Last night, in the haze of almost-sleep, I thought to myself that I should take an internet vacation this weekend. Yes, I said to myself, that's a good idea. Step back from the screen and into the world. Do some writing, and do some hiking, maybe even sledding.

At dawn this morning I was outside chasing a chicken. I don't know how she got out of the fence (well, I suppose she flew; what I don't know is why) and I don't know when, except that it was yesterday. I saw her tracks, yesterday, in the garlic field, which is near the chicken yard, but all I thought was, "Hey, neat bird tracks!" Usually when a chicken gets out of the fence, all she does is pace around trying to get back in, which is what Sylvia was doing this morning; I don't know where she was yesterday when I was admiring her tracks in the snow. What else I don't know is how she survived the night without freezing or even - as far as I can tell - frostbite, since it was at least -2 and probably colder with the windchill. Even with the rigged-up oil-pan heater we use, their water was frozen this morning.

Sylvia is a silver-spangled hamburg, a small black-and-white spotted chicken with big dark eyes, blue legs, and a rose comb. She's the only one we have of that breed, which I think may have been a mistake. It's a smaller breed than all the others, who we chose for their meatiness in addition to their laying ability. She came along because she's the only white-egg layer and because she's so pretty. But as the smallest hen, she seems to be at the bottom of the totem pole by default, and often gets picked on and chased away from the best treats. I think maybe if we had two, they could at least band together. Maybe not, though; the subtleties of chicken politics are beyond my meager comprehension.

At any rate, by the time Sylvia was securely returned to the proper side of fence and coop, I was cold and hungry. I'm accustomed to drinking my coffee while checking email and reaping the night's collection of blog posts, and habit had me several pages in before I remembered my determination of the night before, and by then I wanted to write this post. And since writing was part of what I was supposed to do with my non-internet day, that seemed alright. Justification works!

This post about workspace at Via Negativa inspired me this morning, at least in part. If I were to take a picture of my workspace, it would be a picture either of the kitchen table or the living room couch, which is where I'm parked now. We have a very nice desk, also in the living room, which originally furnished J's grandfather's podiatry practice. I have written on that desk perhaps four times, even though I always set it up with the idea that it'll be a good writing space. Now, of course, it's cluttered and unusable - the printer lives there and the new landline phone, and the charger for our cordless hammer drill, and the farm clipboard and some other papers and sundries. The kitchen table often gives way to a likewise mess. My lap, however, is - unless occupied by a kitten - almost guaranteed to be clear. And the laptop fits so tautologically well thereon.

So I write wherever I happen to sit myself down of a morning. But - and this, really, is the point - many mornings, and many days, I do not write at all. Even now, when I am again unemployed, when the farming season has (chicken chasing nonwithstanding) drawn to a close. With some full days of nothing else to do, I do nothing.

In my murky musings last night, I thought to myself that I should be writing my book. Which book is that? Any book, really, but there are two most on my mind: one, a country-living guide for the city-born homesteader; two, something about food and Zen and wild and farm and love, perhaps in the Pilgrim at Tinker Creek tradition. The first I've been working on a little, slowly; the second has only been simmering, but for a long time.

Without structure, I become ineffective very quickly, and I so far have proven a poor hand at creating structure out of none. I end up circling my goals, pacing the strange and fearful boundaries that keep me from them, and often, I think, fleeing blindly and squawking from the very things which might best actually get me inside that damn fence: a routine, a commitment, and, maybe, a real space in which to work.


The kitten was gone at the vet's all day, getting spayed. Her absence made itself felt, all day, a quietness and also a lack of suspense. Nobody to pounce on your feet as you step out of the bathroom. Nobody to pull the pom-pom off your hat as you sit reading on the couch. Nobody to race madly and full-speed around and around the living room, and nobody to dive between your legs just as you take a step. Nobody to investigate the faucet while you brush your teeth. Nobody to stalk you in slow-motion all the way across the room. And nobody to hop on your lap when you sit down. Nobody to nuzzle your chin. Nobody to lay on your chest and fill you with purr-reverb.

She's home now, groggy and wobbly but doing fine. The vet said she was "spicy" and "a handful," and looked apologetic when explaining that we're supposed to keep her quiet and inactive for ten whole days. Ten days! Wish us luck.