As Kathy and I enjoyed a peaceful bowl of barley soup by the woodstove tonight, we realized our first semester as empty nesters is fast coming to an end. In the next week our three children will be returning for Christmas.
Allie, a junior at University of North Carolina, should be the first to arrive tonight -- although, the winter storm has delayed her flight from Raleigh/Durham. The Internet tells me it is scheduled to arrive at 10:50 p.m. now instead of 9:20. I suspect that too is subject to change. So we will keep an eye on the web and drink some more caffeine.
Ginny who is a school nurse in Nashville will drive home on Saturday. She and her pup Flea are likely to arrive around 4 p.m. unless she hears that the Ohio State basketball game is on at 2. In her first year living away from Ohio she has found a group of friends who gather to watch Ohio State games, but I’m sure she misses hearing her mother and father’s gentle suggestions and encouragement for the boys and the coaches. We will probably have to tape the game if she doesn’t get here.
Joe lives nearby in the Columbus suburb of Hilliard. He comes around periodically to check on his parents and get one of Mom’s meals. He has saved a few days of vacation so I would expect him to come and spend some time before Christmas with the family. He too has a dog. He calls her Devious and she is. The four dogs -- two visitors from apartments -- and our two farm dogs will have a big time together. I can only imagine which chair or bench or table they will chew up this year.
Last weekend I helped Kathy put up the Christmas decorations, but we didn’t get a tree. “No tree this year,” she insisted. “We’re going to my brother’s house for Christmas Day and we’ll only have it up a week before we take it down.”
I know this is bluster. As soon as the kids get here she will cave and send us out to find a tree. I’ve planted seedlings over the years with hopes that one day we could cut the Christmas tree here on the farm. We have a couple of rows of blue spruce and Canaan firs, Scotch and white pines. However, most are still small and the ones that are now big enough are too nice to part with. One year I convinced the family to cut a red cedar for a Christmas tree. It was a little prickly, but it had a great scent. I would do it again as we have plenty to spare, but that’s not going to go over with the rest of the team. Sunday is likely to be frigid and snowy the perfect day to go to one of the local tree farms and cut down a tree.
The kids understand this visit is not a free lunch. Heating with a wood burner calls for lots of firewood. They know the routine. I chainsaw and they load the truck. In a few hours we can gather several weeks worth of dry wood ready to burn. And then there is the pile of logs behind the barn. All they need is sawed into chunks we can split and stack for the rest of the winter.
Now that I think of it there are a few more little jobs around the place that could be done. I need help hauling the trash to the transfer station. There’s a pile of brush that needs to be burned. The ramp to the middle mow of the barn needs some new boards. I should get someone to help me put the blade on the tractor to plow the lane. There’s the molding to fix around the upstairs window.
The more I think about it the more I realize just how much I miss the kids when they’re gone. Can’t wait share the holiday chores. I mean cheers.