These last five months have been full with the work of keeping up and catching up on long-idled chores and projects around Blue Moon Stead, and with the love of friends and family who have been so good to be in touch with me, to be here with me, to cheer me and help me adjust to this new life. There has been both a sense of emptiness and fullness, with waves of grief and gratitude for Gary.
Gary and I always knew the key to me managing my deep sense of loss would be healthy busy-ness, and we were certain that Blue Moon Stead would provide. It has. Gary left me with a list of projects and priorities and, of course, others have come on their own.
Turning compost becomes time-consuming, unless I can get someone else to do it! In my best Tom Sawyer fashion, I’ve convinced my brother Richard it is fun!
I’ve had work done on the cabin to make it more comfortable, especially in winter. I’ve had parts of my forest cleaned up for fire safety and forest health. My brother, Richard, after spending quite a bit of time here in the month or so after Gary died, came back for ten days in September to help with everything from shoveling manure and turning compost to assembling carts, taking nails out of boards, putting up horse fences, and moving all manner of things from the deck and porch into storage.
Richard cleaned debris from home improvement projects and other miscellany from the deck, so we could enjoy pond-side dining in the warm September evenings.
Konall (left) and Drader have moved to loving new homes.
I have sold Drader and Konall, our handsome Fjord geldings, and have been getting training on how to work with Bess and Duchess, my two Dales Pony mares who will remain with me. I’ve begun growing Chinese medicinal herbs at an experimental level, and am preparing to start some as true crops, working with Gary’s acupuncturist toward developing a consortium of growers in the Columbia Gorge region.
Meanwhile, I needed a crop that will be harvestable next year (most of the Chinese herbs require 3 or more years before harvest), so am planting a whole lot of garlic this fall. Our friend Steve, who visited us last year, offered to help. Steve farmed in Alaska, so knows the meaning of Extreme Gardening! Little did he know that I was looking into getting a little Malinois puppy like Ella, and the timing couldn’t have been more, well, perfectly imperfect. Steve arrived on Thursday, less than 48 hours after we welcomed little Sundog (Sunny) into our family.
Ella checking out the potential of little Sunny as a playmate.
Well, I welcomed her, at least! Ella tolerates her little shadow admirably, but doesn’t hesitate to growl, show fearsome teeth, and bark to discourage Sunny from using her tail as a chew toy, or from using Sunny’s own chew toys as chew toys, for that matter. Mira, the cat, has returned to the home with a great deal of caution and trepidation. She is a bit hurt to see someone else occupying her lap – but that’s the only way I can know where Sundog is as I write this!
We have a soggy week ahead to plant garlic – I’m hoping the lure of a little puppy will bring some friends in to help. It’s been hard getting back to writing while absorbing the reality of life without Gary, though his love and influence remain with me. But winter is looming, the Sundog is here, and a different rhythm will pace our days. I hope that means I will be writing again soon!
Time to relax.
Sundog gets into everything, in this case a small cooler.
Barbara. Thank you, as always for the gift of your authenticity, your courage and your beautiful prose.
The best part of writing these is hearing from you and other friends I don’t have the pleasure of seeing these days. I get occasional news from Betsy of your good work, and hope you are getting joy and satisfaction from it, if you’re not too exhausted to know! My best to Suzanne and Celina!
Always great to hear from you Barbara! All the best and happy November 🙂
I loved this post Barbara. You have a wonderful way of expressing your thoughts. And the pic of Richard on the tractor is great!!!!
Thanks, Joan! Richard was a natural on the tractor, especially with that hat and his “John Moose” T-Shirt!