gather and grow

Homegrown, hand-spun living in the city

After another nomadic summer, it has felt very grounding to get back — not only to the space of our home, but also to the rhythm of tasks and activities that punctuate the everyday for us here. Bags unpacked. The whole house cleaned up and the pantry re-stocked with our favorite foods. Fresh sheets on the beds. Our calendars beginning to fill up with work, but also with names of friends to visit and reconnect with.

For me, what creates the sense of being home again more than anything else are the familiar, rhythmically repeated acts of making things. I pull out my tools and work with raw materials — whether it’s milk or vegetables or soil or textiles and dye plants — through movements that are soothing in their familiarity, to provide nourishment and color and joy for myself and my little family.

There’s a rhythm to putting sauerkraut to ferment in crocks until it’s done and gets moved to the fridge, to make space for the next batch. There’s a rhythm to filling warm jars of home-made yogurt and then enjoying it once a day, or twice, or even three times a day (there are two serious yogurt eaters in the household) until it’s time to use the last bit as a seed to make a new batch.

There’s also the rhythm of cheese-making: warming milk, ripening it, draining the curds, salting and cutting them.rhythm-4-2

Or how about this latest addition to my dairy fermentation repertoire, kefir, for which I got the grains from a friend. (“Milk champagne,” don’t you love the sound of that?)rhythm

Our fall garden has been planted in the beds outside, and there the cycle, the rhythm, is clear: seeds planted, germinating, growing, feeding us, going to seed again.rhythm-3-2

In my outdoor dyeing studio, too, pots started simmering almost as soon as we got back. As always, I have loved being immersed in the steady, methodical practice of collecting dye plants, scouring, washing, mordanting, simmering, and rinsing. I’m slowly making progress towards my One Year One Outfit goal (but that has to wait for a post of its own).rhythm-5-2

And then there’s the amazing bounty of ripe late-summer fruit to seize and enjoy. I spent Sunday afternoon with 10 people in the lovely kitchen of Columbia Homestead Alliance canning peaches and fig thyme jam, two of my favorite recipes from Ashley English’ Canning and Preserving. It was the first in this year’s series of urban homesteading classes, and well-timed since South Carolina peaches and figs are at the peak of perfect ripeness just now. The yellow and ruby jars are glowing like gems, with promise of sunny sweetness for the winter days.rhythm-2-2

4 thoughts on “The rhythms of Making

  1. All wonderful……so much gratitude!

  2. Dawn@CCH says:

    I love the comfort you convey talking about rhythms and processes. It’s a concept not everyone understands.

  3. I think it’s all about the hands and the feet. The more they touch and feel the more satisfying. Such a lovely description of this!

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