Joy


It has been a wild week, but a joyous one.

At the Dakota Rural Action Small Farms Committee meeting last Thursday night, I made a commitment to attend this year’s MOSES organic farming conference in Lacrosse, WI in late February.

I hemmed and hawed a bit during that discussion of who was going and how we might carpool before realizing I’ve been planning on attending that conference for over a decade and have never yet made it.  It’s time.  I filled out my scholarship application this morning and sent it off (fingers crossed).

The weekend was fairly quiet, but on the Solstice it occurred to me that a feast was in order.  I do not know how I managed to start a roast turkey-mashed potato-stuffing-gravy-cranberry sauce feast at two in the afternoon and get it on the table before midnight, but I did, and we actually ate at a pretty reasonable hour.

My son was with me all weekend, and our plans to reconnect him with his dad changed twice during that time.  The first time they changed was due to the dangerously cold weather on Sunday (our original meeting date).  On Monday, having planned to meet his dad that late afternoon or evening in either Sioux Falls or Brookings, and knowing my dearest friend Matt was visiting from Seattle, we headed up to Sioux Falls in the early afternoon to visit said friend and wait to hear on the dad meeting time and place.

As I pulled off 229 and onto 26th Street, heading to my friend’s parents’ house, I got a call from M’s dad saying he wanted to pick him up in Vermillion the next day instead.  OK.  So we continued to Matt’s folks’ house and spent the afternoon there, having been invited to dinner by his mother.

Sometime during that afternoon, it became clear that the plan on Matt’s side had been for me to whisk him away down to Vermillion that night, so he could spend the day with us down in Vermillion on Tuesday!  So, after supper, we all three piled into the cab of my little S-10 and set off south in a driving blizzard, me gripping the wheel and hoping very fervently not to get my child and my dearest friend (and myself) killed on the highway.

Obviously, we survived the trip, and on hearing the news we were all coming back, H had popped a bottle of pear wine into the fridge that I’d been saving to share with Matt.  We polished off that bottle plus a bit more from the box, and nibbled on the homemade marshmallows and candied orange peel Matt had brought with him.

Yesterday was a lovely day–we spent a lot of time chatting and playing with M. and visiting at the Coffee Shop, where we ran into a few friends from here and from away, who were visiting for the holidays.  I kept my promise to make at least one meal for Matt–turkey sandwiches with cranberry-orange relish, blue cheese crumbles, and arugula.

M’s dad refused to actually come pick him up at my house where we were in the middle of cooking and entertaining and getting M ready for the car trip they were taking to Texas, and I refused, after all that renegotiating of meeting times and places, to bundle M up and trundle him and all his stuff down to the gas station at the end of the block.   So in the end, M’s dad sent his girlfriend, who seems like a very sweet and reasonable person, to act like a civilized adult.

After packing up M’s stuff and the kisses and hugs and wishes of safe travels, we had more company in the form of a mutual friend of Matt’s and mine, who showed up with some more holiday treats and gifts.  On her departure, we set out for a couple of errands and stopped by H’s daughter’s place to visit her and the baby.  She made us some tea and we talked art and city living, and shortly thereafter it was back to Sioux Falls to give Matt back to his family.

But first, we did have to drop by Barnes and Noble to hunt for Brian Bedard’s new book, Grieving on the Run (Matt and I took one of our most memorable grad classes from Brian–Form & Technique in 20th Century Fiction), and then we managed to squeeze into Touch of Europe downtown for a couple glasses of wine and their great stuffed cabbage rolls.

Finally, it was time to deliver him back to his folk’s place, but we had a cup of coffee on the steps before I left.  Driving back, I thought about my friend and how his art has transformed and progressed, and how very blessed it was to have had my three favorite people under my roof at the same time.

Christmas itself has little weight or importance to me, but this Solstice time–when for me the new year really begins with the light returning little-by-little and people out visiting and exchanging good feelings and little treats–this Solstice time is when the energy and optimism start to re-emerge.

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