Whenever I return from a trip to Paris or beyond, I like to take my first morning back in the countryside super, super slow. When there is sunshine, it streams in through the large window that we look out of from our bed. I'll linger there a little bit and maybe instead of grabbing for my phone I'll pick up the latest issue of The New Yorker or whatever book I'm reading at the time and sit with it until I absolutely can't stand not having a cup of coffee in hand.
If the sun is still out, I'll drink my coffee outside- because coffee tastes better outside. I'll bring a mugful with me, along with the bowl of food scraps we fill while making lunch and dinner, delivering the latter to the chickens who squawk and peck excitedly at the leftovers. There's usually a freshly laid egg waiting for me in the hen house, so I'll bring that back inside with the bowl.
Then it's just me and my cup of coffee sitting on a deck chair, sitting in a ray of sun. If I notice that the nettles look bright green and are begging to be picked I'll do that. I get a basket and start pinching the tops off, careful to only touch the undersides and stems with my fingertips to avoid being stung, carefully amassing a stock of stinging nettles that I will turn into a pesto or a topping for pasta or add to a quiche.
While hopping from nettle patch to nettle patch and pinching away at the plants, sometimes I pass by the corner of the garden where we piled whatever food scraps and compost the chickens won't eat. The compost turns into a beautiful dark soil. My coffee, long forgotten, has gone cold by now, so I have two hands free to shovel soil and bring it to the patch of land I've designated as my future vegetable garden.
The activity excites the chickens, who see the unearthing of soil as an opportunity to find worms and other treasures. With each shovelful of soil removed, a new world is revealed- a world that invites the scratching and pecking of the enthusiastic chickens.
Meanwhile in the garden plot, I mix the new soil in with the old- a combination of mulch, hay and dirt from the henhouse floor, all atop a layer of cardboard that has killed the grass below and will slowly disintegrate throughout the winter.
The cats observe, the kitten jumping from one end of the garden plot to the other, just barely getting in the way of the shovel, Jack watching calmly from afar, every once in awhile returning his attention to his personal grooming.
I wipe my hands on my country jeans and think about what I will grow in the spring. I find my coffee mug and go inside to make a fresh batch. Sometimes this is how I spend a morning in the countryside.