Monday, January 19, 2009

Dinner for Two

Just as Mother Nature slows down for winter, so do we Sandhill Farmers. And January is about the slowest time of all. The Christmas/Solstice/Hanukkah whirlwind is behind us, and Candlemas/Birgit/Ground Hog Day is still ahead. January is our coldest month, and it was only a few days ago that we were arising each morning with negative numbers on the thermometer—and that's in Fahrenheit. In those gelid conditions one's motivation barely extends beyond drinking coffee, accomplishing basic chores, and curling up on the couch to read a book near the wood stove.

This all stands in sharp contrast with our rhythms the rest of the year. During the growing season our population is markedly higher, and Sandhill typically has about 10-12 people at the dinner table. There are the six adults members, Renay (our 12-year-old), perhaps three interns, and possibly a guest or two. In fact, we rarely have the exact same configuration for dinner two nights running. In winter however, all that changes. There are no interns and few visitors. Mostly just the members, and often one or two are away on travels during the agricultural dormancy.

Twice this past week, it was only two of us who showed up in response to the dinner bell. Apple is visiting friends at Twin Oaks for the winter, Stan is doing a Vipassana retreat (at the same Illinois center I was at two weeks ago), Gigi and Renay were at some school function (I used to think that I was a pretty heavily scheduled fellow until I examined Renay's lineup of extracurricular activities—it makes my head spin), and Michael was sick in bed with pleurisy. That left just Käthe and me.

While eating dinner at home with only one other adult is a perfectly normal and unremarkable occurrence for most of America, it is damn unusual for me. Over the last 30 years of intentional community living, I doubt I've eaten dinner at home with only one other adult fewer than 30 times. So twice in one week was noteworthy (even blog-worthy).

With Apple away until spring, Stan meditating in Illinois, and Michael holed up in bed, there is considerable amount of routine for the rest of us to cover. Käthe feeds the chickens and collects the eggs, Gigi roasts coffee and keeps the greenhouse above freezing (which sometimes means getting up and stoking the wood stove at 2 am), I cut wood and handle shipping, and we all take turns cooking and cleaning. It is the only time of the year when, briefly, we have more computers than people seeking to use them. Thus, everyone can surf to their hearts content—so long as one's fingers stay warm enough to accurately execute the keystrokes.

And apparently we're not the only ones with a softer schedule right now. I called up our dentist this morning to make an appointment to get my teeth cleaned, hoping for an opening before the vernal equinox. Imagine my shock when I was offered tomorrow morning! I don't know whether the flu and other respiratory challenges have knocked out more folks than just Michael, or whether northeast Missouri is temporarily de-populating to attend tomorrow's inauguration of the first non-southern Democratic President since Kennedy back in 1961. Regardless, I was pleased with the prompt dental accommodation… and I'm glad I'll be at home tomorrow afternoon, where I'll be crafting handmade pasta for dinner and keeping the house warm—rather than in DC, where I'd be trying to not get too hot about crowds, traffic, and snooty politicians.

My only trip this week will be to Kirskville (35 miles away) to play duplicate bridge Wed evening. That night, I realize, it may only be Gigi and Käthe for dinner. It's almost an epidemic.

1 comment:

Jeffrey said...

If Scotland County had the same political configuration as the Bay Area, I'd say everyone wanted to sit at home and watch the inauguration, which is why that time slot was available...