Light and Fire
My mind is a casual study of chaos this morning, as if there were anything new in that. I am accustomed to having my mind inhabit venues where my body never visits, especially when it comes to the realm of time, which passes merrily along, with no recognition that we may or may not be ready to move along with it.
|December 1st, 1982, our wedding day, in Old Paint|
our VW Bus. The engine blew up the next day...on
our way home from Ukiah.
Time doesn’t care because change is going to occur whether you want it to or not. As I sit in this kitchen, that I built with the help of two brothers and a neighbor, in the summer of 1981, I consider that when Gluten-Free Mama and I moved here permanently in May of 1982, this kitchen was our home, a sixteen by twenty foot structure, with a loft upstairs but no way of attaining it.
There was plywood nailed over the window openings, there was no running water, no electricity, no plumbing, no stove and no steps to get up into the house through the front door. We were expecting our firstborn a little more than three months down the line, and considering she was in her fifth month, life was challenging for a first-time mom.
I had a home-made door in place that I would soon replace with a door that was divided into ten small panes of glass, allowing light to flow into the kitchen from the east of a morning, brightening matters up. I also had a wood-burning Superior stove from the 1920’s, that was stored up at my father’s barn when we first relocated, but was brought over to our spot early on.
Now it burns beside me as I write. That door and stove are the only remnants from those earliest of days. My first attempts at cupboards and counters have long since been replaced, and then, yet again. The steps I eventually built, leading up to a small platform, and then turning ninety degrees to go the rest of the way up, have been removed, and replaced with an enclosed pantry. The windows I put in originally? The wood-sash ones I bought at a salvage yard in San Jose? All replaced with dual-paned, aluminum jobs.
One window was transformed into an archway, leading into the dining room I added on in 2010. Change pervades the arena, after 35 years. With the delivery, yesterday, of the metal roofing soon to replace the original composition shingles, we will also be renovating this kitchen, and the original bathroom, that have been damaged recently by torrential rains. All good and according to plan.
Everything ages, changes and eventually needs to be replaced. Everything, that is, except love. Love is the one commodity that does not need to be replaced, and I place my relationship with Gluten-Free Mama at the top of the list of my possessions.
Note, GF Mama is not my possession, laugh the heck out loud. If you know her, you know she is nobody’s possession. But we have shared a love for one another that I place at the pinnacle of what I consider to be my life’s most cherished experiences: to love and be loved by another person.
We’re not talking flame-on Johnny specials here; we are talking longterm, in the heavens and in the trenches arrangements. We spend time together and we have our separate interests. She spends time in the greenhouse, she hangs upstairs in her sewing domain, and she catches up on her computer, while sitting on the sofa beside me.
She has to travel to Sacramento regularly; I stay home and tend the critters and keep the home fires burning. She spends time at the Fat Quail each week, and does the farmers’ market in Laytonville on Mondays, when it is in season.
I write, I take photographs, I keep the dust and mud at bay by doing the bulk of the grunt work, when it comes to keeping the house tidy. I’m not striving for Better Homes and Gardens, so much as trying to avoid the tag of hoarder.
GF Mama cooks, she sews, she organizes and she battles. She assumed a huge role last season, over at the Pepperpot, what we call the part of HappyDay Farms which has come alive on the new parcel acquired by HeadSodBuster and SmallBoy, a few years ago.
She grows eggplant in abundance, a favorite here on-farm, and she is the resident expert on peppers, and everything about them. She grows them with love.
Love is a combination of respect, attitude, timing, tolerance, chemistry, acceptance, patience, exploration, and an ability to check your ego at the front door. Undue or constant criticism is deadly, as is being judgmental. For two individuals to maintain a longterm relationship that really works, is the most joyous of all accomplishments.
I mentioned this in passing to GF Mama, the other night while we were sharing dinner and a film, because I thought it appropriate. I missed Valentine’s Day by several, with this particular observation that I valued my relationship with her, but that also seemed apropos because we don’t hold a lot of stock with Hallmark holidays.
Like the kitchen around me, we two have changed, but the door to our hearts has allowed light to continue to flow through, and the fire in our souls has continued to burn brightly, so we are good to love.