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[The Creation of the Chicken]

An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
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Monday, October 15, 2007

Turn, Turn, Turn

A year has passed and we are witness now to our second Fall season. The leaves certainly are turning (lovely) and the moisture descending from above (less lovely) is bearing further witness to the change - though this last weekend we had several absolutely gorgeous days, in which we began work on digging a trench; a sort of fake creek hopefully designed to direct water away from the barn and down into the seasonal lake north of us. Another example of the season directing our work habits as other less pressing jobs were put on hold for this one.

I still marvel at the extent to which the seasons are more real to me now...I rather wish for them to be even more so - it reminds me of my childhood when times were simpler (wow, did I just write that?), times when you really couldn't get a fresh apple pie ANYTIME you wanted, you know what I mean? When the harvest time of the fall REALLY had meaning. I suspect most of our kids will be dumbed down and utterly clueless about seasons save for what bonks them on top of their heads (rain, snow, or sunshine).

I don't know if there is necessarily a virtue in not being able to have apple pie whenever you want, but man, it appeals to me. Do you have memories of a grandma's apple pie in late summer/fall? How about pumpkin pie? Grown on grandpa's farm? Do you remember when "Over the river and through the woods..." had some real meaning and excitement to it? Mmmmm...I've waited a YEAR for Grandma's apple pie! Expectation and patience...hmmm...now I'm beginning to think there is VIRTUE to be gained here.

I don't pretend that everyone should share my sense of value in growing your own food or living more in tune with the seasons, I'm sure that many people enjoy their "fresh" peach in January, but we also should recognize that such luxuries exist at a pretty high cost (and not just fiscal). Plus, you really do miss out on the potential fullness of the dance of the seasons and as I've said before it really does compliment the dance of the Church's liturgical year.

We have two full apples trees that we will harvest this week and I am pressing the "abbess" of St. Brigid Farm for an apple pie, it may not be as good as Grandma's, but it will have all the same love and authenticity to it.

The chickens are taking their seasonal break and our egg production has slowed to half of what we used to get. They had a wonderful time cleaning out all the worms that appeared as we dug our trench through the middle of their run, with both Killick and Mina keeping watch. The dogs really do a fantastic job of being in the run with the birds: Mina just wants to play with them while Killick licks his lips and practices a form of self-discipline that I wish I could rival.

What we can expect: cold, wind, rain, and power outages. We are getting ready: batteries galore, lamps, heat source, recipes for cooking on the woodstove etc. The spiders have reached the pinnacle of their size, both physically and in terms of population and they truly are everywhere. I've come a long way in reconciling with them and therefore surely deserve the Nobel Peace prize at least as much as Al Gore does. I wish they would arrive earlier to help with the skeeters who will join us again in the late spring next year. And, now, soon the spiders will be gone.

The various berries around here come and go in stages ending with the ever populous blackberry. Birds visit our feeders heavily in the spring, but as the berries arise we see less and less of them. As of late, as the berries are vanishing, we are seeing the birds return, but their numbers will dwindle as winter comes on. This is also a ripe (hehehe) time for bears to be seeking human provisions for excess poundage before they go "nigh-nigh", and so we are keeping our eyes and ears open. Killick is showing himself to be quite vigilant in this regard as even the Friday night distant and barely discernible drone of the North Kitsap High School football game irks him into barking.

The bats are growing more desperate as well as they are flying lower and lower trying to catch the shrinking population of bugs that are apparently concentrated around our outside lights. The other night I had one fly right into my hat, knowing that the old proverb "blind as a bat" is utterly absurd, I must assume there was a bug on my hat...or something. Either way, it convinced me to call it an evening. Yes, soon all these critters will vanish; we will no longer hear the coyotes "laughing" in the woods: a sure sign of what is to come. A sort of silent nature klaxon telling us to batten down the hatches.

Contrastingly, the unbelievable loud chorus of frogs will be the "all safe" announcement of approaching summer.

Leaves, some the size of my forearm, are preparing to blanket the land around here. I do not rake them as they do in suburbia...though we do collect some to focus their composting powers in the garden. And I suppose we may "harvest" others to give to the goats, which is also what we do with what little "lawn" we have: we don't mow it, we harvest it for the chickens. However, there is one suburban chore that is rather amplified here: cleaning the massive dead foliage out the gutters, and in the last year I've doubled my gutters, having added them to the barn and the guest house.

And so we have been witness to one year of the cycle of life around here now and I expect that in the following year we will further expand our farm and its life, causing us to be even more in sync with the warming and cooling revolutions of our planet. More goats (they are in heat now and will hopefully be bred soon), more chickens, and a much bigger garden area (more foods to be preserved next fall for the winter - another natural "feastday" to become Ferrenberg tradition). In the spring, new life will literally flourish both in the wild around us and on the farm: something with which I believe Pascha will mesh very well. I expect the kids will experience and recognize the connection, the reasoning, the beauty of such timing.

Life is full of cycles and I must admit that I am enjoying being more attuned to them - even though they are sometimes hard, even cruel. I will no doubt again curse the rains this fall, but the liturgical calender follows (or leads?) along with us, pointing out to us in each and every portion of our orbit the higher purpose in it all. They mesh so well. Out of the darkness of winter, Nativity will come. So stop complaining James.

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.


...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 8:41 AM [+]
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4 comments


4 Comments:

very nice post. i have similar memories about the change in seasons. my favorite memories seem to be from the autumn. my family moved in the late 70s and I remember a clear difference between Halloween on the east coast compared to Halloween in rural Ohio. One day I will try to type out those great memories, they are too many to list here...

Thanks for a beautiful post.

By Blogger Justin, at 3:43 PM  

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It's all your fault that upon reading this last night, I immediately got up and made an apple pie, thus getting nothing more done that evening.

Then today I was more productive than I expected to be. I wound up inviting some neighbors over later for pie, too.

And it's all your fault!

By Anonymous Peter Gardner, at 3:43 PM  

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Yeah, it's all your fault that I made a cherry pie today. But it was canned filling and cheater crust, nothing nearly so sublime as yours. OTOH, I can blame you when we all die of heart attacks from too much transfats...

By Blogger Liz in Seattle, at 5:42 PM  

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hehehe....thank you all...I am glad to be of service.

Enjoy the pies!

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 7:30 AM  

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