These autumn days are growing crisp. Leaves litter the ground and smoke swirls from the stove pipe: up, up, and away into the clear blue sky. We are feeding our home fires much more frequently these days. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the transition from our outdoor kitchen back into the cozy cabin for meals. Chopping kindling each morning to stoke the cook stove for our breakfast and coffee is becoming routine. I remember now, after a few months of cooking mostly on gas, how much I love to cook with wood and wonder why on earth I ever use the gas stove. And on days that we keep the fire going longer than just for breakfast, one of us takes advantage of the hot water that accumulates via circulating through the cook stove for a hot bath. Yes, indeed, this is the added bonus of maintaining the fire!
For now, most of our days are still spent outdoors, soaking up the warmth of the autumn sunshine. We’ve been finishing up the last of the season’s garden tasks, taking care to bank the coals so that when springtime rolls around the garden’s fire is easy to kindle. Our transition from outside to inside is as gradual as the shortening days. Darkness moves us indoors a little earlier each night. Daybreak, and with that, chore-time moves us outdoors a little later each morning. The increased darkness of each and every day, coupled with our first tastes of cooler weather, just begs for the home fires to be kindled and sustained.
In addition to feeding the literal fire on the hearth, the autumn also heralds in amazing appetites. The children can’t seem to get enough baked sweet potatoes. Squash porridge for breakfast is met with cheers. And the requests for hot tea each morning come in threes. So I fuel the little fires. Many, many times each day I add fuel to someone’s (or something’s) fire; be it child, husband, dog, cat, sheep, duck, chicken, or cow. But where the cows and most of the sheep are concerned, Eric generally stokes those fires. Twice daily he moves the cows and sheep to a fresh paddock of grass. And when the grass stops growing for the season, and the pasture’s stockpiled grass is consumed, bales of hay will be provided to fuel the ruminant’s fires and sustain them through cold weather. All of that grass, no matter what form, is captured energy from the sun, fire of all fires. Big fires can easily fuel lots of little fires.
As I go through these days of fueling so many different fires, there is one fire that I must not forget to feed: my own. As an introvert, my re-fueling requires a step away from the action; a quiet moment of aloneness where I can get my thoughts together and maybe knit a few rows or maybe sit on the porch and become mesmerized by the leaves showering down in the forest. Even if these moments are brief, they are no less critical for the sustaining of my inner fire. And this is the message I want to convey to all of you dear readers today: No matter how bustling your day seems, no matter how tight your schedule, no matter how many children are screaming at you that they are “hungry”: don’t forget about yourself. In all of the chaos and commotion that life presents you: don’t forget to stop and re-fuel. It really is ok to stop and smell the roses. Believe me, as a builder of daily fires, it takes a lot less work to stoke a fire from a bed of coals than to start that fire from scratch.