Saturday, November 14, 2009

Work and Worship

A Sonnet for Hestia

Holy Hestia, Mother of Hearth and Fire,
Thou of softest smile and dimpled cheek,

Thine home is not in temple's burning pyre

But in the cherry flame of homefire meek.

At every kitchen stove and fireplace

The pious heart Thine presence permeates.

Thy flame doth warm the home with love and grace.

Yet ne'er forget the burns Thy flame creates.

Thou art our center, focus, and our love;
Thine prayers are said as every fire is lit.

O Hestia, Virgin One we now sing of,
To Thine gentle form this piece is writ.

Belov'd Daughter of Zeus, let all proclaim

The central place each has for Thine great flame!

I wrote this Sonnet in October of last year, and I felt like sharing it today. Since we're switching stoves out, our Hestia flame is gone for a short while. But my altar stays, as you can see, and it contains the items that remind me of her always. It is always a bit crowded on her altar, perhaps because I seem to want to squish all my tiny kitchen tools on there. It's nice, though, and cheery. I see it every time I am in the kitchen.

My pretty chicks have grown into handsome hens! Today we cleaned out the hen-house, and put down fresh straw and food and such. We're all set for the winter. I even managed to get a timer onto their coop light, so they'll have a good day/night cycle. We started getting eggs, about three a day so far, and I want to encourage them to continue that! I'm pleased with how nice the chickens look. They're plump, strong, well feathered, and have bright wattles. These ones are going to get names once we're through the winter, and I'll be banding their legs as well. They've become terribly tame, and will come when you call out, "Chick chick chick!" which is what I call when I have special treats or food for them. They even got to run around outside of the coop for an hour (in the rain, mind you) today, as we were cleaning it out. I think they had a good time. I suspect I'll do that more, now that everything is all neatened up in the coop!

Now that is a picture of preservation. Look at all the jars of tomatoes, pickles, dilly beans, jam, corn, etc. It's a great thing to have all that food stored away. If you peek over the edge of the top rack, you can just see the buckets of lettuce we have growing in the basement, as well. We plan on having fresh salad as part of our Thanksgiving meal. I'm especially pleased with those jars of little round things you can see (try clicking on the photo to make it larger): those are our pears. A close friend was over for a few days and spent almost all of her available time canning our pears for us. Bartlett pears are a favorite of mine, and the idea that I can pull a jar off the shelf anytime over the winter, and have that late autumn crispness, is a major thought of happiness for me.

As Hestia is usually given "first and last" in modern Hellenic traditions (and might have received that honor in ancient times as well), I leave you with an image of one of our many basement wood piles. All over the basement, in neat rows, there are cords and cords of cut wood ready for burning. It's a lovely, warming feeling to know that your house is heated by the fuel that fills your basement! We still have two large piles to bring into the house or stack nearby, but more than half of it is already in the basement, ready for use. We've had the stove on a few times in the past few weeks, but not every day. Soon, it will be every day and all night, kept burning to keep us warm and cozy as the snow falls and the silence of winter surrounds us. Hail Hestia!
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