Hobby Days
January 23, 2011

Once in awhile, we get easy days. Sometimes, we have to schedule them in advance. Today was one of those scheduled, easy days.

I'm not sure if this is some unspoken reflection of the times, or simply a reflection of the folks we hang out with. But for quite awhile now, everyone we know is inhumanely busy. Some are busy because they have a houseful of young kids. Some are busy because they have a houseful of adolescent kids. Or maybe they babysit the grandkids, nieces and/or nephews while brothers, sisters or grown kids are at work. The job hours are getting longer, or that second job keeps us away from home several more hours per day. One friend is putting himself through a Master's program while working fulltime hours. Another friend has to commute two hours one way to her job. Many of our farming friends have their farm work as well as off-farm jobs. And my best friend has three part time jobs, trying to make ends meet after she lost her professional position a few years ago. Everyone is scrambling.

So the thought of taking a break from everything is never far from our minds, but it's rarely an opportunity that presents itself. Usually, we have to carve out time for a break, amidst a list of gotta-do's that never seems to end. Yet we have learned, to our cost, that not taking those breaks only lands us in the realm of exhaustion, depression, bickering with coworkers or family members, and a profound disgust for the way things are going. Funny, it turns out we're not machines that can endlessly clock in and be productive and clock out again and show up tomorrow for another round. Even if we love our jobs, we all need a break. Whether we have time for it or not.

Some years ago, a couple we know invited us over for an afternoon of movies on the VHS player, maybe a game of cards, a pizza, and general-purpose visiting. The gal in that pair enjoyed spinning wool, as I do, so she invited me to bring my wheel and spend some time spinning while we visited. I took her up on that offer. I suppose we must have looked like two old village cronies, both sitting to our wheels and gossiping back and forth all afternoon. The fellow in that pair enjoys building airplane models, so he had his hobby table set up in the living room where he could work on his latest model while we were there. My husband, not to be left out, brought along some books of interest that he could page through without losing track of the conversation. It was one of the most pleasant, low-pressure days we'd had in a long time. The Hobby Day tradition was born.

Since then we've had countless Hobby Days. Different days will see different activities, as we bring along whatever activities seem inviting. Or we just visit. Or we just watch movies and laugh a lot. The only rule is that we have to have a relaxing time. We try to have a Hobby Day about once a month, but sometimes we'll go several months between. During those weeks without our Hobby Day, the days start to stretch out into an interminable long slog. I imagine it would be somewhat like the sands must have stretched out to the horizon, as the great camel caravans travelled the Silk Road. The much-anticipated arrival of Hobby Day would then be like arriving at an oasis, where a refreshing break gave us respite from the journey.

I love the work I do on the farm, but I have to admit it can be exhausting. So many things to do, so many cares, so many projects in various stages of completion (or non-completion). It seems ironic that the more we love a lifestyle, the more we need breaks from it sometimes. Or maybe it's just us. Whatever the case, those Hobby Days are sure lifesavers.

We got home from our Hobby Day tonight like coming home from a vacation - just a smidgen too soon for our preferences. The livestock were ready for their various forms of dinner, the rain had started again, my headlamp batteries were running low and the pig fence was shorting out again. Evening chores stretched a little late. But that's OK. I had enjoyed my time at the oasis, and I was ready to continue the journey. But I was already looking forward to our next Hobby Day.

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