“Eat, Drink, Get Old”

Over dinner the other night, Ben, our 8-year old, explained that this phrase was how Koko, the signing gorilla, described a Birthday Party. Ben is fascinated by gorillas, and this one in particular, and reads everything he can on the subject.

This month, several bloggers are discussing our self-image, aging, the masks we wear, why we chose the Profile Picture we use – how old it is, etc. This seemed like a great way to join the conversation.

The American love affair with youth and beauty is comical if not so sad. Almost every other place in the world, age and wisdom are revered. Here, we don’t even want to admit that we will get old, that we are getting older every moment, that we will get to a place where our bodies decline, and that we will in fact die. Dying is a natural part of the cycle of life, and it is strange that it has become something so terrifying.

Perhaps our recent move to the country, and then embracing the farm life as we have, has changed my perspective somewhat. We are learning that we have to be tuned in to the cycles of the seasons, to the levels of water and heat that our garden and our animals are exposed to. There are times of year when the animals are bred, when babies are born, there are seasons to every facet of our lives right now.

The Spring, Summer and Fall seasons are incredibly busy. There is so much planning and physical labor to get the garden ready, bending over for hours to work with little tiny seeds in little tiny pots, amending the soil so that things will grow, tending to baby chicks round the clock – they need to be fed and watered and their bedding changed sometimes eight times a day. In the Summer, there is constant weeding, watering, tying up of vines, hauling things to and fro – the things that need to be put into the garden, and all the things that need to be taken out of it. Now we are in the Fall and our every waking moment is picking and canning.

For the first two Winters we were here, it rained, and it was muddy. We didn’t have a lot going on, because we were just getting here. It was boring. It was dull. It felt a little depressing to those of us at the house. I was working full-time, so I didn’t feel the effects quite so much. But for the rest of the family, those down times were oppressive.

Just recently, my husband turned to me and said that he was looking forward to Winter, after all this work. We are new at this lifestyle, and it is a busy, hard-working, from sunup to sundown kind of environment. Winter, is when you snuggle up in blankets and relax for the first time all year. And now we are going to know how to appreciate it. We will come up with wood-working projects, or house organization projects, I’m sure. But we will also do some very serious relaxing and building our strength for the next three seasons of all out work.

Being so closely tied to the earth is helping me see the cycles of life as so much more in tune with the overall scheme of things. When my wrinkles start showing up good and plenty in my face, I will have earned them with lots of time in the sun, and lots of laughter. When my skin is rough and not so dewy soft as a young person, well, sister, I’ve helped to birth goats, and pigs and pulled weeds and canned for weeks on end to feed my family with the work of these hands. That roughness was also hard-earned. When I creak and my joints make noise, I’m getting closer to my Winter of life, and I will be ready for the rest that makes that time so lovely. I will wear a warmer blanket, and sit closer to the fireplace, and let my grandchildren cuddle around for stories of what it was like when their daddy was a little boy.

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