I wake to the sound of my fathers mill, becoming quietly alert as the small engine starts. I find myself wondering where the furry friend is at the end of my bed - every time I finish a pet sit and come home to my cabin in the woods, I feel at odds with the new reality of no other living creature as a companion. And then the squirrels remind me, they’re still here. But I don’t really want them here…they’re more annoying than the mice - finding ways in and places to nest no matter how hard I try to keep them out. I cover the holes and they chew through the walls. What can I do, they’ve lived in this cabin for longer than me! I have made the decision though to build them their own place - a mini replica of this tiny temple - but all for them and filled with the small spaces they like to call home. I’ve added it to my mental list. Build the squirrels their own cabin so I can finally have some peace. I say a little prayer that it will work to gently and lovingly relocate them.
As usual, I wake slowly, thinking of coffee and raisin toast as I lay in bed. First a banana and then comes the rest. As I sit and enjoy the leisurely breakfast, I start checking in with myself about what feels apt to pursue today. I decide to start with cleaning the chimney, a task that’s been on my list since the spring. As a take it all apart, scrape it inside and out, I think to myself : “this is a good skill to have, cleaning chimneys”. It might seem less than extraordinary - but it makes me wonder, how many people in this world have actually ever cleaned a chimney on their own, and if I were ever in a situation where I was the only one, I’d actually know what to do and have the confidence to make it happen. So, yes, I confer with myself, it is a great skill to have. While I’m at it, I clean out the extra ash and soot from the inside of the wood stove. It’s strangely satisfying to sweep away all the built up ash in the upper chambers that has collected over the last many moons. Clearing space for it to happen all over again as the moons continue to wax and wane into the colder months.
I walk to the garden with my tray of ashes in hand, dumping them onto my hugel culture mound I’ve been building for the last three years. Ashes, sticks, weeds, leaves, goat shit and straw. I’m betting on some fertile soil and look forward to finally planting on it next spring. For now, the mess of weeds are adding their magic to the mix.
My sister arrives and we go for a walk in the woods. We talk of love and life and the things that make us go “huh?!”. We stop at times to just listen to the running water, the leaves falling, the dogs romping through the sticks and branches scattered on the forest floor. I find a perfect mossy tree base gently bending over their stream, to lounge upon as we share stories of the strange ways we sometimes feel when someone tells us things we’d rather not know.
Back at the cabin, I fit my chimney pieces together, revelling in the ease of this process today - as it doesn’t always go so smoothly since I have couple twists and turns as my chimney reaches for the wall. Satisfied to have that part complete, I tell myself I will redo the gasket seal on the door another day, but another day soon, before I leave on my next trip, so that when I return in the midst of winter, my stove is at its optimum.
It’s lunch time now and I make myself a quick meal, enjoying it on the front steps of my little deck - I revel in this time of year when the biting bugs have all vanished and I can finally enjoy more than 45 seconds outside on a nice day. I decide on an afternoon coffee, which I rarely do but today seems right for this kind of thing. I drink it slowly, still on the steps, watching the squirrels and the season slowly change. I carry the last sips into the garden with me, to see what I might be able to harvest. In the garden I find mini cucumbers, tomatoes, a giant zucchini, green beans, both fresh and for seed, kale, mizuna, cilantro and dill. Not bad for a barely tended garden season. My mind wanders to what kind of kitchen witchery I’ll get up to with this fresh garden ingredients. Time will tell and creativity will lead the way.
I help my father move a heavy piece of metal, and then notice the mill yard could use some clearing up. I shovel sawdust, one of my favourite mill yard tasks, and carry it by wheel barrow over to my cabin where I dump it on my path that connects my front steps to my shower - this section needs a bit of building up as it often gets mushy and mucky - one of the damp spots found over in this part of the woods.
I move chunks of slab wood destined for the firewood pile over to the chopping block - telling myself it’s my strength training for the day, filling the wheel barrow a little more full each time = building muscle as I go.
My sister arrives back home, from wherever she has been, and she asks if I’m up for another walk. I hesitate as I still have things I’d like to do before the dark sets in, but I remind myself the importance of slowing down and enjoying the world around me. I casually convince her to walk up the hill this time (rather than deeper in to the woods) - there is resistance, on my part and hers as it’s steep and offers little reprieve as the climb begins as we step out of the driveway. Yet it’s always worth it to get to the top, or whatever we choose to be the top today, which is not the “top” per-se but a plateau along the way that offers some of the greatest views I’ve ever seen. We are greeted by a sky filled with fluffy clouds, shifting between blues and purples and pinks - cotton candy skies we call them and imagine ourselves nestled in the sweetly spun sugar, held by the universe itself.
We walk the bumpy winding dirt road through the field, my sister ringing her bell to alert any wildlife that might be hanging out there tonight as well. We walk towards the line of sunlight in the distant part of the field, never quite reaching it, yet enjoying the light show on the clouds every step of the way. Turning in circles to take in the full 360 degree view. Ocean, hills, trees and sky for as far as the eyes can see. We give thanks for the opportunity to walk in someone else’s field, enjoying the view that belongs to us all.
On our way back down, we hear an owl call out several times. Perhaps it is calling to us, perhaps calling to the moon, or its mate, or something else entirely. I’m always grateful to hear an owl calling through the night, sometimes offering reflective wisdom, other times offering warnings of fate.
Tidying my cabin is still on my list, so I do just that, shaking my rugs outside, putting away the items still in my suitcase, sorting my laundry, vacuuming the bits left behind by the mice while I was away. I light my fire and burn some sage & rose incense recently gifted to me from a soul sister friend. I step into the night, make my way to my outdoor shower and enjoy a long hot shower under the stars with my twinkle light strewn driftwood offering subtle illumination as I enjoy one of my favourite things about living this way - hot water outdoor showers with a view of the trees and the sound of the stream at my feet.
I wind down my day with a quick meal and braiding strings for my art while I watch reality tv on my little screen. Productive mindful mindless relaxation at it’s best.
I crawl into bed and give thanks for warmth, for life, for love and for all the things that make my heart feel alive.
morgan leigh callison
mostly i write to remind myself what it means to be me. it is through words, my soul finds expression & my mind finds a place for form to take shape.