Lately, I've been day dreaming of having an office job. Occasionally, I picture myself putting on fashionable, clean clothes, nice shoes, getting into a dog-hair and mud-free car, and driving to a paved parking lot where I grab my iPhone and a latte and walk into a job where I get benefits, a paycheck, vacations, and some sort of regular schedule. That's crazy talk, I know. I don't own a cell phone and I don't drink coffee! Actually, I think this type of fantasy- one where you dream up a reality completely different from your own- accompanies a stage of life when you start to make some big and permanent decisions about where to be and what to do. The kind of decisions that represent spending years in one place, a commitment to working for oneself, day in and day out, and in many ways, a commitment to the uncertainty that self-employment brings. Not to mention committing to taking this all on together, as a happily married couple- and wanting to remain that way!
We have poured some serious concrete here. We are configuring thousands of bricks onto said concrete under a fairly large building we built, a building to which we dug a three-hundred foot trench so we could one day (today, actually!) flip on a light switch and turn on a faucet. We are building what we hope will be the kiln of a lifetime. I guess it's not really surprising that given the number of eggs in our shared basket, I would wonder from time to time about the alternatives.
In all honesty, though, these daydreams are fairly few and far between. I can bet that sitting in a cubicle in front of a screen would come nowhere near the joy and pride and sheer amazement that I felt today when Nathan and I and our trusty old John Deere successfully moved a 400-pound field stone into a staircase beside our wood kiln. Endorphins were flowing, yes, but I had one of those treasured moments when I could picture the happy future- Nathan working inside the kiln, requesting a tall pitcher for that last kiln shelf, and me, climbing a stable, sturdy, handsome stone staircase to hand him the final puzzle piece for our first firing. There is pleasure in this work, real satisfaction, and at the end of most days, something tangible to show for it. Today, this work meant being covered in mud, swinging a mattock repeatedly into frozen ground, crawling around with my knees in crushed stone, hauling bucket after bucket of sand from underneath a very low-hanging tarp, and being out in a most unwelcome early April snowstorm for much of the day. Today my job also meant that my commute was all of 300 feet across a beautiful field. It meant that I got to take a mid-morning tea break and have lunch with my husband, and that I got to take the puppy for a long walk, and that I still had time and energy to make dinner, two loaves of bread, and fruit cobbler. What is more, at six-o-clock, I very nearly put on my boots to go outside move some more sand and stone.
This is the kind of job that gets me out of bed on dark morning in winter. We are building a life that will sustain us- in body and soul- on this old hill farm in central Vermont. This is exactly where I am supposed to be, and thank goodness that every once and a while, I can actually realize that.