Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Today, Ryan is on-call with the local ambulance service while Mica and I are at home. Although there are grey skies, pockets of sun streak through the eastern windows and slowly warm the cabin. With my day dedicated to being here, on the property, I’m looking forward to accomplishing the little tasks that keep our home clean, comfortable, and welcoming.
I think of this work as a sisterhood of tasks – not chores, but tasks: the small efforts required for the greater ease they provide. These include: hauling water, splitting wood, washing dishes, sweeping the floor, cleaning the cooler (our outdoor refrigerator), and maintaining the water filter. They are ongoing and perpetual, yet each in their own rhythm.
Water, for example, can be easily accessed by collecting rainwater. During dry or frozen times of the year, however, we carry our buckets down to the riverbank, then haul them back up the hill. Water for cooking, water for drinking, water for washing: it is a frequent need. Wood, too, is a regular essential. Wood heats the woodstove in the winter, and fuels the cookstove for our meals throughout the warmer months. When the woodbox isn’t full, it’s a pending to-do. As for washing dishes, this is a more involved task for us than for those with plumbing and sinks. We haul the water, heat it on the stove, then wash and rinse in basins. We do this every few days, as the pile of bowls and plates, and our schedules, dictates. My goal is always to do so before the pile becomes onerous to address, or before the counter space is cramped for prepping the next meal. Sweeping the floor happens every day and sometimes twice – the dust and dirt, and snow in winter, is endless. Cleaning the cooler, which is dug into the ground and serves as our seasonal refrigerator, is less pressing, something that happens as it catches our attention, or when a heavy rain leaves a standing puddle in the bottom. And lastly, cleaning the ceramic filters for our Berkey filter is necessary every couple months only, something to do when our rate of drinking water outpaces that which the filters can satisfy.
Yesterday, Ryan split a couple armloads of cherry, beech, and maple, filling the woodbox to the brim. Today, I begin by quickly cleaning the cooler, as rain earlier in the week had trickled in and was dampening the egg carton beyond functionality. I then fetch water and begin preparing to do dishes. It is a small stack, but I prefer a clean kitchen space. Working the dishes through our rectangular washpan and our deep, round rinse pot, they are drying atop our table just as the sun reaches them through the window. I then scrub the water filters, the first time since mid-summer. Upon refilling the Berkey, the water appears to run through, quickly dripping it’s way to the collection pot. I am thirsty, and appreciate the sound.
Lastly, I sweep. With all other inside tasks complete, this is my last act before moving outside to my morning’s work in the garden. Lifting up the rugs, moving sets of boots, rearranging the chairs, I quickly have a sizeable pile. I reach for the dust pan, and all the floor scrapings are added to the compost pile. I hang up the broom and enjoy the pleasant appearance of a simple house, simply cleaned.
While it is I telling the story of such work today, these are shared tasks that both Ryan and I complete equally. This keeps the work pleasant, and relieves a sense of being duty bound. More than anything, we are propelled by a kindred sentiment for our little abode. It is through care of our home, that we demonstrate care for ourselves and offer care for each other. Through readiness and joy for the little jobs, we enhance the comfort of our home, and augment both the longevity and the delight we wish for in our cozy cabin.
For fall clean-up of your garden or landscaped housefront, please contact Beth via firstname.lastname@example.org.