On the table: dinner plates that have been set for over half an hour by my boys who believe 'if you set the table, food will come'; two late library books that didn't make it back with the rest of the bunch this afternoon; three lone eggs from our hens who are taking a bit of a fall laying break; my wool scarf and my treasured felco pruners (for lefties!) from a quick and cold dash to the garden for chard; a very unseasonable but tasty cucumber martini with the last of the cucumber infused vodka we made this summer; jasmine rice and a one-pot roast chicken and vegetables.
At the table, an early dinner is waiting. Just one hour is the daylight savings difference, but we seem to all feel it at dinnertime this week. Early dinners, early bedtimes - the new wintry groove. Five very hungry bears are in the kitchen, two sitting and drumming with their forks, while the other two are pirouetting around the kitchen to ABBA, perhaps not the most calming before dinner choice, but their choice nonetheless. Annabel (in the learning tower which has momentarily replaced the high chair at the table because this girl just wants to stand and climb) pours her water from bowl to cup and back again. I know it won't all be contained within, but she's happy, and engaged - spilled water is just fine. We're all waiting for Papa to come inside. He's putting a new roof on the garden shed before the snow comes, and using every last minute of daylight tonight to do so. There's excitement in the air about the snow and the election, hunger in their bellies, and ants, as they say, in everybody's pants. Harper opens the kitchen door to ring the dinner bell one more time for Steve, with Adelaide hot on his heels to shout "it's not a false alarm! Dinner is REALLY ready!". The boys turn off the music, clear the last little things off the table, and slide into their seats. As I hear Steve's footsteps walking through the barn, I wipe a bit of the water that's creeped over to my plate from the little lady, and sit down with deep sigh. Dinner is on the table before everyone is grouchy and messy-hungry, and it's a meal that I know everyone loves. Nobody has broken anything in the setting of this table, and there have been no tears. No fighting, no injuries, no harsh words spoken. Small, but oh-so-important victories in family life. As we all finally sit down together and take a moment to pause before our blessing, I breathe in and out the fullness of this day at home and feel the gratitude at what's all around me.