I Wake to Sleep, and Take My Waking Slow

“Reflection must be reserved for solitary hours; whenever she was alone, she gave way to it as the greatest relief; and not a day went by without a solitary walk, in which she might indulge in all the delight of unpleasant recollections.”

Jane Austen

path

On Sunday, I begin housesitting at a beautiful post-and-beam house in the woods. This house is made of wood and windows, and is populated by ten cats who perch on shelves and beams and chairs and stairs. Outside are twelve large chickens who live in a henhouse with a red light, and two giant angora bunnies with tufted ears. Inside, in a black cage that hangs from the ceiling are two lady canaries who, I was informed, occasionally lay tiny eggs which, when cooked, have whites that stay clear, not turning to white as chicken eggs do.

During this housesit, this time in the woods, this time away from town, I am embarking on a daily writing and photography project, which will, of course, begin and end here. A photograph of the day, at least, and a prompt will frame the course of the day. Almost two weeks of time alone, to reflect on all that has happened, to prepare for the coming spring, to think about what lies ahead. The steps, still, are a bit murky, are still covered with snow and ice. The path’s end isn’t clear, as has been the case now for many months. I am beginning to be comfortable with the unknowns, with the trust that I will be borne by the universe, carried by my community, and spurred forth by love and faith in myself, by friends, by putting one foot in front of the other. I am looking forward to this small vacation in a home away from home.

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

Theodore Roethke

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2 thoughts on “I Wake to Sleep, and Take My Waking Slow

  1. i too, spent many months housesitting in that exact spot. with the chickens and kitties and sunlit kitchen and company for dinners at that lovely long table. . . sounds so familiar. enjoy your solitude darling. . .and chris’s visits of course.

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