A Convivial Life: revisited

Our home-cured ham before being thinly sliced into prosciutto.

Last night was the annual holiday gathering on the farm, with good friends from far and wide. As a result your faithful scribe is moving a bit slow this morning. So, I leave you with one from the archives on the same topic.  Cheers (But, quietly, please).

In what was a convivial happenstance, the weather turned cold last night for our annual Christmas/Solstice gathering, and we spent several very pleasant hours with good friends from town and country here on the farm. This morning damage was confined to a few bags of trash and a full slop bucket for the pigs. So different from the parties of our younger days, but maturity comes in time to us all.

Wandering through the house during the evening, I heard snippets of conversation: a fellow farmer on a sow’s first-time farrowing, a librarian on the decline of library patronage, a native of Chicago on where Emma Goldman is buried (Waldheim cemetery), Cindy with an explanation of our hoop-house to be built in the spring.

As the energy ebbed into the night, I walked with a few friends in the bright moonlight past the orchard to admire a new barn, a fresh stack of lumber, and a massive oak log — the standards of entertainment being quite high here in the rural hinterlands. Our guests extended appropriate gestures of appreciation, then we made our way back to the warmth of the farmhouse for more wassail.

With the last guests leaving by 11, we turned in after a little cleanup before midnight. We slumbered deeply until Teddy began barking savagely around 2 a.m. After a few ignored shouts from me to shut up and no move from Cindy to deal with the problem, I got up. Funny that, the domestic politics of pretending to be so deep in sleep that your partner is forced out into the cold house and even colder night.

The mercury hovering in the mid-20s, I stomped around in boxers and T-shirt on the frosty ground, as Teddy continued to respond as if slaughter awaited in the darkness. I played the flashlight among the trees, but saw nothing but a cold and beautiful star-filled night. Teddy’s coat still bristled when I finally put him on the back porch.

Imminent death by serial murderers be damned, I then headed back upstairs. Sliding back under the quilts, Cindy still feigning deep sleep, I drifted off again until the morning’s light.

An Evening of Conviviality and Community

The festive season has arrived and not a moment too soon. Last night, sprigs of holly and cedar garlands hung throughout the house, we hosted our annual Christmas/Solstice/Saturnalia gathering (trying for inclusiveness here). Joined by a band of friends from the city, the mountains and nearby valleys, we spent the evening feasting and making merry. A large pot filled with steaming perry, well spiced and fruits bobbing, served as our nod to a wassail.

Holly sprigs in the kitchen window

Holly sprigs in the kitchen window

The richness of dishes brought by our guests helped line our stomachs for the deluge of spirituous libations. The fir tree was ablaze with brightly colored lights, gifts brought by kind guests placed underneath. A beret was forced upon the head of Good Sport Tim, who played the part of a sailor from Marseilles (sorry, no idea why that happened). The 16 very pregnant ewes received routine visits through the course of the evening–fat and pregnant ewes being what passes as entertainment in the country. Overall, it was a most satisfying gathering of some of our favorite good people.

As we go about our tasks this Sunday, less than two weeks before the wheel turns again, we feel “blessed,” in whatever way you wish to parse the meaning of the word.


Reading this weekend: Honor: a history by James Bowman and Ancient Iraq by Georges Roux