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  • Writer's pictureJenna

Low Spirits, High Hopes

Good morning from a very cold Cold Antler Farm. We’re in a deep freeze for the next week. Right now it’s 0 degrees and the high will be around 12. That means keeping both wood stoves going all day and night, with hopefully a few breaks to nap. I’m tired from last night. I didn’t get much sleep at all. I’m currently trying to defrost one frozen line into the bathroom and worried my wood supply isn’t going to last at the rate I am bringing in more and more loads. We’re here in the deepest part of winter now. It’s bringing up a lot of sad memories. After two winters with someone beside me it feels so much harder than before. Maybe it’s age, and my body isn’t able to perform like it used to? I am noticing how much sorer, how much my feet hurt, how much easier I bruise and how long a strain takes to heal. It is sobering, aging. And in a few months I’ll be 40. Not a bad thing, but equally sobering.

Last night I got lost in memories, started to sink into a really sad place. It happens. It’ll keep happening. I am so grateful I kept up with an body positive and restorative yoga practice. It’s a saving grace. When the farm is dark and the last coop doors are shut for the night I light some candles (beeswax handmade by my friends Natalia and Travis who traded votives for a package of slab bacon) and sweep the bits of firewood duff and dog hair out of the way and roll out my mat. I meditate. I breathe. I stretch long and slow in the way that lets the sore muscles soak. I try to be kind to my body, which has changed so much since the pandemic started and not angry with myself for those changes. I try to find stillness. I try to love this messy person not even sure how to make it through the end of 2021, much less start 2022.

I am writing, and some of it is even decent. I am hoping to enter spring with 3-4 solid chapters to send to my agent. I thought I’d have a full draft but the only way that will get done is if I care about word counts and not quality. I am working on structure, on how to fit a whole confusing life from age 9-now in one book’s effort. It’s the hardest thing I have ever done, and that includes this week of not sleeping and praying for spring.

I remain optimistic. I know winter isn’t permanent. I know if I keep working on this book, it’ll happen. I know that there are good people around me for support and help if I need it. I know all of that. Which is why even on freezing sad weeks like this, hopes remain high even with spirits are low. That’s the way you have to be to keep living this life. And when I get scared, or sad, or just listless in the waiting to see how it will all turn out - I remind myself that it’s been a solid decade of making my dreams a scrappy reality.

I’m heading outside to refill the horses water. I have a good defroster in there now, something necessary for this week. I have both the sheep and horses station set up with heaters and so far I only blew fuses in the house twice, so that’s good! My sleepless night wasn’t in vain, as the house is comfortable at 10AM, and most mornings (this cold) I am fighting to get it to civil by now. All the animals are doing well. Even the little kestrel I am working with, Ellie, is braving the cold like the rest of us with spunky effort. We’ll all see spring like we do every year, and even in times of hardship I’d rather be here than anywhere else.

So I’m off to keep carrying on, and I hope wherever you are it is warmer, softer, and kinder than days around here.

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