Sweat Equity

The fact about sweat is once it flows, you don't mind so much about it 
anymore. It's the dread of it before you break it that causes the trouble. Wendell Berry

The first of December might be an odd time to write about sweat equity, especially in CNY, but it is over 40 degrees outside at 6 a.m. and I have been opening windows and doors all night because it is over 80 degrees in here!

My bedroom is closest to the wood-stove and once everyone closes their door for the night the heat piles up in my room. I’ve been sleeping with the windows open to some extent every night so far. I could let the fire go out, but I don’t have the time to re-establish it before work, even though I get up at 5 a.m. to stock and bank the fire for the day.

Over the holiday I introduced my Granddaughter to the joys of chain saws and splitting wood. The Grands are big kids now and I really appreciate their help. I no longer have the strength to split wood with an ax and must use a wedge. With two of us one can hold the wedge handle while the other uses the sledge hammer and then we share the hauling and stacking.

This time of year working up a sweat is a pleasant thing that leads to the un-donning of sweatshirts and an enjoyment of outdoor work. Last July it meant relegating certain tasks to mid-day so I could work in the shade. Weeding and planting were done in morning and evening. Today I will enjoy stacking wood, as long as the rain stays away.

Winter can be a hard season, but it also opens us up to gratitude  for small pleasures. 40 degrees in September is cold, November through March it is a gift to savor, especially if coupled with sunshine and low winds.

The entire flock is out of the coop this morning, not just the ducks. Inspecting the thawed, and admittedly muddy ground for savory tidbits. The kitten is content with to rest on the porch rail, afraid he might miss some action if he stayed inside.

It’s too early yet for cabin fever but the kitten brought to mind my mother during a January thaw. Us kids would be bundled up to play outside while she opened the windows to air the house while she cleaned. Somehow she was always on guard at the door, telling us to “take off your boots in the back hall!” before we were allowed in to use the facilities. By the time it started getting dark in mid-afternoon, the house would be swept and clean and smelling so fresh, and mittens and scarves would be strewn across the yard lost until spring after the inevitable snow came back to cover them up.

My garden lays soggy under layers of brown leaves soaking up the melted snow and fall rain. The longest night is close at hand, but soon we will start to perceive the morning extending backward to meet our alarm clocks, but for now, we’ll take sweating on a winter day.