Whew! Long time, no write.
I have been happily distracted from the computer by kids and friends. I have found that since the kids are gone to school all day long I want to enjoy more time with them in the evenings. We have been sharing reading time with the whole family. Reading books out loud around the table with the kids is one of the most favorite things in my life. Currently we are in the middle of George MacDonald's Princess and the Goblins. Irene is a wonderful princess and one can see, over and over, why CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and Madeline L'Engle were influenced by MacDonald's writings.
So I can truly say that things are going well on the farm. Just busily distracted.
Yesterday we had home church. It was a lovely day. Began briskly. For the first time in the season I noticed steam rising off Coco's milk as it streamed into the bowl. Trees are dusted with color. All seems vibrant and alive. One last hurrah before the frosts come and freeze away all memory of summer.
We set up our church under the willow tree. Sun was shining. Maggie picked a beautiful bouquet of deep purple parilla, dark orange marigolds, and pink and white cosmos. I especially enjoyed the different readings from the Lectionary. Psalm 37:3 is a verse I would like to claim as a theme for my life:
"Put your trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and feed on its riches."
I think about what it means to dwell in the land and feed on its riches. Our lunch seemed to me to be the perfect illustration for that verse. After milking and pouring myself a cup of coffee, I went upstairs to prepare for the sermon and the service. Kids were fussing around a little. I wasn't sure what we would eat for Sunday dinner. I felt tired from the bakery marathon. Empty. Wondered what in the world I had to offer.
Feeling a bit frayed around the edges, well, more than frayed, more like a moth eaten wool blanket, full of holes, I lifted up hands to heaven, and asked God to take me, as I am, and let his light shine through me. All of a sudden, I felt a renewed energy, and the scriptures came to light.
An old rooster, thrust into the freezer, became a huge pot of "stone soup."
Perfect for a blustery afternoon. (see end of post for recipe)
Bible verses that previously fell flat all of a sudden gave me inspiration and hope. We read from Habakkuk, a 7th century BCE levitical choir member and minor prophet who reminded me that we can pour out our complaints to the Lord who listens with a tender ear. His poetry moved me. Second Timothy was also a tender passage, a sweet letter from Paul to his son in Christ, reminding the young man that it is not because he works hard and does everything perfectly, but because of God's purpose for his life and grace that is poured out that he can fulfill his calling. Jesus' words in Luke were the cherry on top of the icecream for me. The disciples were asking Jesus to give them more faith. He told them that if they had faith the size of a tiny mustard seed, it would be more than enough to accomplish the most major of tasks. We passed around mustard seeds and marveled. Asked God to help us use the bit of faith we already have.
Instead of sweating and getting a sunburn like last church service under the willow, we shivered in our sweaters, wishing for one more sweater. But it was worth it, to see our glorious valley, lovely in its richness, decorated with goats and cows and sheep, polka dotted with roaming chickens and ducks and geese.
Thomas made a big fire in the fireplace and we dined in the coziness. No feast could have been more satisfying than our big pot of soup with bread on the side. Followed by dessert, gifted to us by one of our farmer's market friends. (Thanks, Thistle Dew Farm!!! The pound cake and lemon roll were enjoyed by everybody! We licked the platter clean.) We were truly thankful to dwell in our land and enjoy its riches.
Here is how we made our stone soup (and if you do not know the tale, I hope you would look it up, it is an old story about ingenuity of a couple of travelers and how they used their craftiness to make a delicious supper of which the sum was infinitely better than the parts.)
Old rooster in the pot, covered with water
Several onions from the garden
Several cloves of garlic
Several carrots from the garden, peeled and chunked
a head of cabbage from some of our market friends, chopped up and added the last half hour of cooking
a couple of peppers from Rachel and Jason
a couple of bay leaves
generous pinch of sea salt
a cup or so of wild rice scavenged from Rachel's cabinets
the remains of a bottle of Pace picante sauce
a generous amount of cumin and chili powder (are my Texas roots showing?)
We let the pot simmer for several hours, pulled out the carcass and picked off the meat, chopped it up and threw it back in. By the time the table was set and the bread was sliced, a very thick soup, very nearly a stew, was ready to eat and we delighted ourselves in it.
Every pot of stone soup is different, depending on what ingredients you have at hand. It would have been great with parsnips and green beans and potatoes. Could have been fantastic with butternut squash and rosemary and little white beans. With a dollop of pesto, a can of tomatoes and some kale and beans it would have morphed into a nice italian peasant soup.
I hope you will make yourself a pot. Soon. And share with friends. Such a wonderful picture of enjoying the riches of the land in which we have been placed. A little bit of this and that, all thrown together, simmered and stirred. Mmmmm.