Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

By Gwyneth Hyndman
Interim Editor 

The beauty of winter is not lost when relaxing

Home Fires


November 24, 2022

Photo provided

Gwyneth Hyndman, Home Fires

Our house is dark on this cold November night, and by the soft glow of cheap, supermarket candles I've lit along the bookshelves, I can watch the snow fall. Every year I forget how mesmerizing it is, to just lay on the couch and follow the slow, gentle descent of white flakes outside the windows, as Gabe the dog snores at my feet, an open book resting on my stomach.

I have my husband's good bourbon, my kids' Halloween candy, and the final pages of our book club choice, Daisy Jones & The Six. Fleetwood Mac - the band my book may, or may not have been based on - is on the stereo. John, my husband, is hunting. The kids - Jessie, 3; and Eliza, 21 months - are asleep. The laundry is folded and the floors are swept. Apple butter is stewing overnight in the slow-cooker. I am rich with evening hours.

For many years now I've called this post-summer lull "a breath between the seasons," and by September I feel like I'm crawling toward it like a mirage. The frantic pace of summer and early fall starts to let up. There is daylight savings, and then gradually, fewer and fewer hours of light each week. Work for both of us - John is a fly-fishing outfitter and is gone for most of the summer - slows down to a trickle and then for a short time, ceases completely, but we are ready for this.

Our bank account is fat with "salad days" as John calls them, and thus begins the balance of spending and budgeting for the coming winter. So after eight years with what has become a glorified dog bed, we are getting a new couch. And we can make small repairs to the house. Maybe finally get a fence built in the spring. We have road maps out to trace the best highways and backroads, fishing spots and breweries en route to see our family in Colorado and California over Thanksgiving and early December. Next April we will be ready for long daylight hours and the work it will bring to refill the coffers. But November is for resting in the work we've put in.

This November is unique too, in that the breath between seasons aligns with the ages of our girls. I'm learning that I don't need to hover over Jessie as much. That I can let her sit at the desk in the dining room, as she's been fighting to do, and "pay bills" or "journal" with a real pen without the fear that she'll stab herself. At 21 months, Eliza is nearly sleeping through the night now.

I'm not moving through the days on the sleep-deprived adrenaline that fueled me back in June and July. There is some order, some routine now, in the chaos.

I am, for the first time in more than a year, rested. 

My mother called this morning to report that they are having temperatures in the 90s this week, but it should be cooling down to the high 70s by the time we arrive in California. "I'm sorry," she tells me, knowing that warm weather reports from my hometown can make me stir crazy. In March, yes. But this time of year in Montana is a thousand percent welcome to me. Every fiber in me is right there with it.

"Don't be," I tell my mom, as the pines outside curve with the wind and the heater whirs. "I'm fine here. It's beautiful, actually."

In the ebb and flow of life and all its wild highs and lows, I am thankful for this breath, this pause, this stillness. This very November of Novembers.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. May it be what you need this year.

Gwyneth Hyndman is the interim editor of the Seeley Swan Pathfinder. She is based in Philipsburg.


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