I am up earlier than usual this morning, pushed out of bed by a desire to get bread started so that it might be ready for lunch. Sourdough bread made with flour from the local mill, kefir grains, raw milk and flax seed. It is in the oven, rising, right now.
Winter mornings are a true delight for me. The chickens have made this so. Without them I might have missed something that now is truly a highlight of my day.
The chickens' water freezes in the cold weather and therefore must be changed daily (sometimes twice a day). This is why I must go outside in the mornings. Not going isn't an option, they have to have fresh water.
And so I step out onto my deck in temperatures that are below freezing. I am wearing my pajamas. Flannel pants and an old, old sweatshirt that I snagged years ago from my father. Now that I have dreads I sleep with them in a bun high on top of my head, and so there they are as I step outside, my neck exposed to the wind and cold. I wear whatever shoes I can slip on and are "weather appropriate" ~ which pretty much means will they let snow immediately through or will they keep my feet & ankles dry? My hands are bare.
The metal watering can is cold to the touch. We have two of these. One is in the chicken coop and one is in the laundry room, thawing out. We swap them every morning. This morning it needed filling, so I performed this act on the deck, hauling water out from the bathroom inside.
The sun is rising and the shades of blue in the sky get progressively lighter, accentuated with streaks of blazing pinks and oranges.
The cold air surrounds me. I feel like I've taken a dip in a pool, but I can breathe this coolness in and it fills me. I feel my cheeks turning rosy, my skin tightening. I feel refreshed and alive.
I walk down to the chickens' Winter Chalet and swap out the watering cans. They are grateful. They are impatient for more food, which I oblige them with. They crowd around it and I am reminded of the pecking order in life as the Queen chickens refuse to allow the other ones to eat immediately.
I check the coop, topping the nest boxes with a little bit of fresh straw. I retrieve a green egg from one of the nest boxes. The chickens have begun laying again after their Fall molt. The egg is already cold. I will go back outside several more times before noon, checking for eggs. There is simply nothing quite like the experience of being able to collect a freshly laid egg out of a nest box. It is warm, nearly hot. If the hen has just laid it, it will sometimes still be damp from the process. Even if it has already dried, it will be warm. And that warmth pulses with energy. As a woman I feel so incredibly connected with this.
Sometimes I will stand on the deck for a while. Neighbors are rarely out, though I might wave to my next door neighbor as they begin their morning.
I listen to the dogs around the neighborhood bark. Watch the sky as it changes color. Watch Foster as he watches me. Watch birds that fly in swarms and make Winter trees beat with life.
I breathe deeply. All this cool air filling my lungs and awakening my body. I talk with the Universe.
When I go back inside I take my shower and then make myself a mug of warm ginger tea with honey. As the tea cools I get dressed. I come back to the mug and feel the warmth of the tea spread through me like the light of the sun spreading across the sky. Those fiery pinks and oranges.
This is my morning ritual in Winter.