It’s good to be back here. For a while, Michael and I had seriously talked about shutting down ThoseKindsofPeople forever, archiving it as a stage in life. And I thought I was okay with that. I’d begun developing another online place. And that place is good and wonderful, but it is a very niche space specifically devoted to making the world a more beautiful place. I’ve chosen not to bring my kids or family into that space with me. The kids deserve privacy, right?
But I still have thoughts, right? Thoughts about parenting and teaching and gardening and living life as a celebration of tiny humble things that are gifts.
Today’s post is brought to you because I realized that we hadn’t actually archived the site yet. Another tiny gift, I suppose. We’ve been living in France for six weeks, and it’s been beautifully hard. Kind of like one of those operas or Shakespearean plays where everyone dies at the end, but you still come out thinking “That was so beautiful! I want to see it again.”
Note: we are not all dead.
Another note: we are not functioning at a “this is so beautiful! let’s do this whole thing again!” level either.
Paltry analogies. Sheesh.
Part of the reason we’re not gung-ho about doing this again is that we haven’t even really begun. We’re still living in an Airbnb until God provides us with a place to call home. The six of us are currently living in a two-bedroom apartment that is under 700 square feet. Michael and I haven’t slept on a bed in six weeks.
I’m not sharing this to complain. It’s kind of an adventure, right? Like camping. But just like in camping, you plan for a certain amount of time and a certain amount of things, and you expect it to end. And I know it will.
I haven’t shared a lot on social media because I’m navigating kids’ feelings and kid’s education a lot of the time. Pretty much all I do is teach school, go to language school, and cook food. So today, I wanted to talk a little bit about broth.
That last sentence sounded like the start of a sixth-grade research paper. I promise not to start too many sentences with “And then”, okay? We’ll move on and get past my remedial grammar and syntax.
There is something so encouraging about making something nourishing and satisfying out of scraps and discards. This is something I did back in Minnesota even before the capital M “Missionary” title was thrown at me. We would take any leftover bones from chickens or vegetables and make broth and stock to start several meals. It’s a way of saying “The world might think that you, little chicken bone, are useless. But I find potential in you. You’re not garbage. You are the beginnings of several more meals.”
Of note, I don’t actually say these words out loud to my chicken bones or carrot stumps or celery leaves. It just gives me such gratitude and hope when I am able to use things that would normally be discarded. It brings me closer to the days when I used to have beautiful canning jars and lovely gardens and fruit trees and bushes and grapevines. And the kids could go out in the yard and pop tomatoes in their greedy mouths whenever they wanted. I miss that. More than I think you could know.
I was reading a Mary Oliver poem yesterday. I tend to read poetry on the metro on the way to my language class, because language confusion is a very real thing. The first few weeks here, I was losing my memory of words that I don’t use on a daily basis. And words are important to me. Also, reading poetry is my introverted way of escaping into another place so I don’t notice body odors so much when people are pressed up against every angle of me on the metro. Wendell Berry and Mary Oliver are my two favorites for the metro because they transport me to agrarian scenes.
The poem I was reading yesterday was Blueberries. In it, she compares the blueberries of South America to the blueberries of her hometown, Provincetown. She comes to the conclusion that generally, she’s satisfied with the quality of the blueberries. But she goes on to say that
What they don’t have is the field. The field they(from Mary Oliver’s Blueberries)
belonged to and through the years I
began to feel I belonged to. Well,
there’s life, and then there’s later.
Maybe it’s myself that I miss. The
field, and the sparrow singing at the
edge of the woods. …
And I think that’s where I land. Things are beautiful here. Things are wonderful. I find so much joy and history and gratitude around every curve. But I do miss myself. I miss knowing how to do a lot of things with ease. I miss being able to control something, anything. But this story is not over, is it?
So for now, I’ll take my scraps and bones and make broth, resurrecting purpose from what could have been garbage. And I’ll resurrect hope in my heart, by being grateful for little things.