Wednesday was my birthday and I was flooded with warm wishes. I even got a call from a dear college friend who lives in the far northwest. What a treat.
I thought long and hard about what I wanted for my birthday. Birthdays can be a drag for me, not because of fear of growing old. That doesn't bother me. Yet. For some reason I tend to fall into a funk around my birthday and feel miserable. Not because of anything people do or don't do. Some weird internal thing.
So the last few years I have prayed asking for divine help to know what I want so I can be satisfied and content instead of hungry for some intangible, indefinite something out there.
One of the things that helps is to go out of the house early in the morning, carrying a canvas bag of a collection of my old journals. Early Wed. morning I got a cup of coffee, drove to a lonely spot along the creek on Dutch Oven Rd and watched the swelling stream roll along, thick like soup with leaves and debris. I savored the dark warm coffee and strolled along through a few years of my past. I settled in around seven years ago. That was when we were living in the aftermath of the illness and death of Philip's mom and dad. We moved from our community, church, neighborhood and friends in Fort Worth, Texas, to northern NJ. The lined up job fell through. I got pregnant with Nora. Thomas was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The kids were in public school for the first time. We learned all about IEP's and estates, and grief. Since the job fell through, Philip did all the restoration work on his dad's house. We developed new community ties. We made new friends and new church family. I started to teach cooking classes and to cater a little bit on the side. I had forgotten how hard it was, but reading through some of my tears and joys were a great reminder. At one point I wrote down a scripture from Habakuk 2:3 Here it is in the English Standard Version"
"For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end--it will not lie.
If is seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay."
At the time I read that scripture the children and I had had enough of public school, suburbia and really wished to live on a farm. There were lots of farms in the beautiful area of northern NJ where we lived. The problem was they sold for millions of dollars. When that scripture came across my path I felt like it was a message written directly to me. I had a very fuzzy vison, a dream that there was something for our family, something out there. Those words gave me comfort.
Rereading them in my journal brought a smile to my face. Two years later we sold our house in NJ and moved to the farm. Our dream come true. The two years of waiting were crucial. We learned many things during that era. After a mountain of difficult painful circumstances we reached a very raw state, saw an amazing, truly gifted therapist, and gained skills that have helped us, if not everyday, every week. Doing home restoration of Philip's dad's old house was terrific practice for us as we did most of the work on this house ourselves. We developed friendships in our community that are still vital to us.
So, anyway, that time of reading by the flooded stream was a great gift to me.
When I got home, the girls had made us some amazing scones for breakfast. We then spent the day beautifying the house. I wanted to have a dusted, mopped house for my birthday and the kids worked very hard to give that to me.
Last year I didn't want to cook for my birthday. This year I did.
We invited three of my dearest area friends and their husbands for dinner. One brought cheese, wine and lots and lots of tapered candles. Another brought wine and more cheese. (Do these friends know me or what?) Another brought more wine (boy, are we ever stocked!!!) and a book she found written by none other than our dear Rachel Banks' grandpa, a physician who practiced back in the day in West Virginia.
I wanted a locally grown feast for my birthday, shared with dear friends by candlelight, with blazing fireplace and that is exactly what I got! The children made place cards by decorating leaves. Thomas picked many of the remaining roses for our decorations. We pulled out all the fancy silverware and the fancy plates and fancy cups. We baked fresh bread. Patrick and Maggie and Rose braved the rain to pick fresh salad greens. Nora shared her chocolate with me. (to give me strength for the efforts) I pan-seared duck breasts (from our farm, of course), glazed them with plum jam and vermouth. Made a salad with the greens, toasted hazelnuts, stilton and wineberries we had frozen from summer. Tossed it all with balsamic vinegar and topped it with the slices of duck.
After the salad we had grass-finished beef tenderloin, seared in butter, topped with homemade hollandaise, brilliant with our free-range egg yolks. It was accompanied by our little baby potatoes, boiled slightly in salted water then crisped in duck fat we rendered earlier in the day. Garlicky broccoli rounded out the meal.
To finish it all off, we enjoyed a three layer whole wheat pound cake, baked by Patrick and decorated by the girls. Surrounded by friends, I felt incredibly blessed. Satisfied completely by the abundance we were able to share with our friends.
It was just what I wanted. Anything else was just an embarrassment of riches. What a gift to be able to live here on our farm, in an amazingly beautiful part of the country, healthy and able to raise much of our own food. A family with some rough spots here and there, but very close. We love each other very much. Sometimes the feast is fancy fancy, sometimes it is hard hard work and beans and cornbread. I hope that I will remember to be grateful for it all.
Next morning, it was back to reality. Hurricane Ida blew a lot of water our way. After over two days of heavy, consistent rain, we were flooded. The pond flooded. The basement flooded. The turkeys in their tractor were up to their ankles in mud. Piggies were happily swimming in a small pond in what used to be their nice grassy section of the garden. I put on my nice new locally grown wool socks, Philip's work boots, and in pajamas we moved animals to higher ground. They were happy. The pigs are now temporarily living in the old chicken yard. They have almost plowed up the whole area. Amazing. I had been wishing that Philip or the kids would till that zone so we could reseed. Thanks to the flood, the pigs are doing that job for us. One of the turkeys didn't survive the wet spell, but that's okay. We are thankful that most of them did. I feel like the farmer's wife in Babe, rubbing her hands together, surveying her future holiday meal. "Yep, you guys are looking great. Just about ready to be stuffed with sage and garlic. Yummm, yumm, yum." They don't seem very concerned.
So thanks for letting me share my memories of a wonderful day. There were many more sweet moments, l could go on and on. But for now, let me say that I am satisfied, content and grateful.