Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
It’s wintertime at the log cabin.
It's Saturday morning, I'm home from the road. Fireplace. Coffee. A silent snow falls as a bird sings on the sill outside my window.
"Out of the bosom of the air, out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken, over the woodlands brown and bare, over the harvest-fields forsaken, Silent, and soft, and slow descends the snow." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I love winter. I’m a chop-your-own-wood banjo player. I love the aroma of good coffee and a fireplace. And oatmeal bread toast. I guess, in many ways, a cozy kitchen is winter’s version of a front porch. And nothing makes a kitchen cozier than the ambience of a woodstove.
“Every man looks at his woodpile with affection. I love to stack mine before my window so I can remind myself of my pleasing work. It warms me twice, once when I split them and again when they are on fire.” – Henry David Thoreau
My life is such a damned contradiction. I write about life and earth, but whenever people ask me where I live, I find honesty to be ding-dang disturbing. In order to sing about nature and Mother earth I must live in airplanes, car seats and motels. When I am not on the road, however, my time is spent in a most romantic setting – my log cabin home, set upon a hill on seven acres in Kentucky.
In a proper home, the first “room” you encounter should be, in fact, the front porch. The front porch is the pulpit of the home, it is where life, neighbors, news and community collide over a glass of ice tea in a rocking chair.
The most important room inside a home should be the kitchen. It is the grand welcome chamber in abodes worldwide and has been viewed as such by all cultures for generations. The kitchen is the interior front porch. In a perfect home, the kitchen should be the first room you enter. It says “welcome, friend … I am glad you are here.”
I love my kitchen table (that's mine pictured). It is six feet long, made of strong, hand hewn pine. The surface is hand rubbed with oil every few months and has a delicate scent of wood-shop to it. A good solid table is important. It is the center point of life in your home, the communal gathering point in your kitchen. Great dreams, brilliant poems, homework and even wars have been planned and decided upon from kitchen tables throughout history.
The kitchen is the temple where one waits for spring. It is winter’s springboard back to the front porch. A kitchen should be organic, woody and happy. It should smell of homemade bread and soup, wine and oatmeal cookies. And, for Pete’s sake, please only use wooden plates. There’s too much plastic in the world, it certainly doesn’t belong in a proper kitchen.
So, I offer two songs for you. The first is about sitting in front of your own fireplace with one you love, savoring the quietness of a snowfall, called “Winter Song”
The other is a delightful, live performance from my friend Anne DeLong from the great state of Utah. Recorded live on her friend’s front porch, Anne is a mystical priestess of words and rhyme, a writer, a singer, guitar-toting poet who would choose a quill over a Sharpie and was born a couple centuries after her time.
I think she exudes the spirit of the front porch with grace and beauty here.
I hope you will gather your family around the kitchen table this winter, turn off the TV, and sing a few songs. Make some up on your own. Listen to the laughter and bathe in the love as you wait for spring.