Shifting Tides, Shifting Seasons

It’s strawberry-picking time. Only I just barely noticed. It could be due to the extended winter and drawn out, wet, gloomy spring we had here in the northwest- it hardly feels like July, and we haven’t yet really had a hot day. Can the strawberries even be ripe? I checked the website for the u-pick farm we like, and sure enough, this weekend is the Strawberry Festival.

Once upon a time, my time was full of the rhythm of the season, of fruit ripening and when to put up my preserves. By the first week of July, my canning jars would have been washed, my tools readied for the year. I would have been making cute labels and cutting fabric to top my fresh jars of chunky, sweet jam, and I would have felt like motherhood, homekeeping and thrift incarnate. Now? I barely noticed it was July.

While I still want to take the kids up to pick strawberries, there’s no way we’re picking a bushel. In the move from the Big House to Little House, I gave away all my canning jars, I no longer have a huge walk-in pantry or even a food storage room. In a box out in the garage I’m sure my canning tools are somewhere, but the season of using them, at least for now, is dormant. It’s weird, having something that was so much a part of who I thought I was be no longer a part of who I am.

I derived a lot a pleasure at being good at the domestic arts. I took pride in putting up and preserving summer’s foods for my family. It brought me joy to be really good at those things- and yet here I am, the same woman, only not. I’ve had to let a lot of things go in this divorce- most notably my home and security. I just didn’t suspect that in stripping down the remnants of my married life I would also strip down the decorations of my character. So much of what I thought was me, what made up how I perceived myself and got my personal value, was actually window dressing.

This refining fire just keeps burning.

And- I’m starting to like it- or at least not be afraid of it anymore. While it began with the huge things- losing one’s marriage and home are pretty damn big- it’s actually continued as I come face to face with the walls of what I can accomplish as a solo mama to three needful little people and a full-time student. Once a source of great pride and display, my home is no longer a showplace- in any respect. One a master of the gourmet domestic arts, I now cook sparely and simply. Once in a near constant creative flurry, now I read textbooks and write papers.

Yet I find I am more myself than I have ever been. It’s been a hard journey, figuring this out- learning that I can let go of all I was clutching tightly to keep myself safe and warm, and when I do, I will actually be safe and warm anyway.