The Great Exhale & Presence, Over Praise.

It was the kind of morning that gave hopeful sunlight so enthralling, that our kitchen looked magical, even with all the dirty dishes and windows that needed washed. 

We moved around the house in a state of awe, cozying up in various spots, taking it in. It’s not often the kids are quiet in the morning, but this morning, they kind of were. For a few days now, it feels as though things are shifting.

Hank has been so creative lately! Well, the thing is, he’s always creative, but not always in an environment where he can get it out. Being inside more, even though we do get out everyday, it’s nothing compared to the often near complete outdoor time we spend (except for bed and some meals) the other three seasons of the year. It has taken a toll on him, but things are shifting.

Yesterday he made a sling shot with dad & a rubber band gun out of a chunk of wood he found, complete with a working trigger-all by himself. Then, he drew out a Fox and put him on the wall for a target, said he was only going to kill it so he could feed the wolves. Later on he found a screw and made two holes in his gun and fashioned a long handle, so he could carry it over his shoulder. After that I found him quietly at the table, working so very intently on writing his name on it. It took him a good fifteen minutes, but he did it. All my himself.

When he was done he walked around the house like a grown man who had just completed his greatest accomplishment in life! He kept saying, ‘Don’t you like it, Momma?’ I was, of course, all smiles. Just stopped everything and took in his pride. I responded each time with questions like ‘How do you feel about it?’ and observations like, ’That took you so much work….how clever!’ and  ‘I love that it makes you so happy.’ In moments like this I am pretty well practiced in responding with presence, but I have a note I wrote a long time ago, still up on our fridge to remind me of its importance. Presence Over Praise. It could be easy to keep cleaning and say ‘Oh, that’s great. Just a minute Hank, let me finish what I’m doing’ and miss his big moment, but what kind of a life is that? Not one I want to live and I hope to never forget it.

Hanky’s Sturgeon and Lilly’s leaf on our fridge. Mommas first love note to Daddy up there, too.

Anyway, I’m use to seeing Lilly’s very expressive artwork, but Hank has been slower to use any utensils for anything other than hurtling them away from him. Ok, definitely not always, but he likes to create with his hands, not often does he want to sit and draw or write. And that is fine by me. He will write when he is ready and able. He is 5 1/2-the world is just so very exciting and learning what to do with that excitement is what he practices most often, especially by slowing down and turning his churning thoughts into real-life creations. Just like Lilly will read when she is ready and able. She is almost seven-there is so much to take in, so much to process, much of which does with her art.

‘Dancing Foxes’ by Lilly on our fridge.

Once we stepped out, I felt her breath at once-the great exhale at its beginning. I heard a woodpecker busy in the forest, melting drops dripping everywhere. Chickens gossiping. The goats kicking, ready. I know we’ll see snow yet again, I know the woodpile must stay stocked, but I felt Mother Earth lean oh so slightly today, like a sigh of relief over me. This winter has not been long for me. It has been beautiful, entertaining, a lot of work-it has been exactly what it was suppose to be. I am so grateful to be able to love life, even when it is cold out-finally. This is big for me. 31 years old and I finally love Winter like I’m a kid again 🙂
I paused my racking work and watched the kids. Thought about what the great exhale means to me….energy stored down deep, returning above. Then suddenly I realized-SAP! Time to get ready for the sap run! Oh, yes! I cannot wait to taste some more of our sweet and nutty Black Walnut Syrup! Just about the time I’m getting tired of eating about the only Winter Wild Edible out now-SNOW-we are gifted with delicious syrup. Well, after the work. So work we must do, and then, it will taste all the sweeter.

We fed the animals, stroked the cute little, bucking piglets, talked about poop and what we should do with it all. Then the kids made a game out of running around the barn in a circle and jumping over a row of chickens taking a dust bath.


And when we were ready to go in, we walked up to the house, without coats, enjoying the chilly, fresh air. On the way, Lilly found another love letter from the earth. I think, meant just for us.

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