We are at home now and have no more trips planned for at least six months. In the whole two years since we moved into the yurt we have not had such a long period of time to 'just be'. In the year since Oak was born, including all of the time spent in hospital, we have been away from the yurt for a total of 28 weeks. That's half of Oak's life spent not being at home! I am really looking forward to some routine and structure, to slowing down, finding our daily rhythms and watching Oak grow into his next phase.
Tom has a busy winter ahead making yurts and drying firewood. We plan to start work on Oak's bedroom with a view to having it ready by Christmas, so that he can have his very own space, a place for his ever increasing wardrobe and toys, and you never know....he may even sleep in there one day too! As the leaves fall, the bracken and brambles slowly die back, we are starting to plan out a forest garden outside the yurt. I want to plant some herbs and vegetables in the spring and make an outdoor play space for Oak complete with mud kitchen and sand pit. He is like a coiled spring at the moment, full of energy and raring to go. It feels as though he will start to crawl (or walk if he has it his way!) at any moment. Oh how our lives will change! We already have the fire guard up but living in the yurt means that most of our storage is at perfect toddler head height. He is also eating everything he can get his hands on and I am forever fishing leaves, bits of wood and dead bugs out of his mouth. So being on the move is also going to increase his foraging radius!
Now would be the time that I would be thinking of going back to work if I had a job to go back to. As it is I was covering someone's maternity leave when I fell pregnant and had just gone self employed when Oak was born. The maternity pay came to an end over the summer and we are surviving on Tom's income alone. We plan for me to mostly be a full time Mum to Oak until he goes to school, but I will also start doing some part time work from next spring when I hope to have got my forest school set up again (watch this space!). Hopefully my business will grow as Oak does and I will be able to work full time once he starts school.
This summer I made a decision to sell 'Bumble' and trade her in for a bigger, more reliable van. The time has now come to follow through with this, if we want to be able to buy something new and convert it into a living van in time for next summer. It breaks my heart to even write this but in my head I know it is the practical thing to do. She just isn't big enough for the three of us, especially once Oak is toddling.
So we have many plans and projects to focus on throughout the next year, but for now we are lighting the fire, battening down the hatches and preparing for winter. It has been an unbelievable autumn with so much dry, mild weather for so long that it should help to soften the harsh winter months. Already, as I write this, the first few days of November have brought rain and winds. The woods are getting muddier making it more challenging getting in and out. Since the clocks have changed the nights are drawing in fast. The change of season has seen us picking up lots of bugs; Oak has had a chest and ear infection, I have had sore throats and colds. We have both been on antibiotics for various things. It is time to dose up on garlic and lots of green winter veg. But the best thing to do at this time of year to try and stay healthy and happy is to just get outside and get some fresh air.
You would think that living in a yurt in the middle of the woods means we are constantly outside. But it is not always the case. Some days the wind and rain beating against the canvass sounds so much worse than it is. The rayburn is warm and there are always things I can be getting on with inside. If Oak would just sit and play on the floor for a bit. Or if I could just get him to go down for a nap. Or if he could just amuse himself for a short time. But then before I know it, it is 4.00 pm and Oak is fed up, I'm tearing my hair out, trying to cook the dinner whilst he screams in frustration, my head hurts, I've stubbed my toe on a toy and the dinner is burnt. Then Tom walks in through the door after a day spent out in that wind and rain; healthy, happy and glowing. He always gets us outside. On a wet Sunday afternoon recently he dragged us out for a family bike ride which ended up as a seven mile off-road, up hill trek. It was just what we all needed. He has also been known to send me out to chop firewood after breakfast rather than do the washing up. It does wonders!
One evening he got home from work to find me sat on the sofa exhausted, surrounded in chaos, Oak finally asleep on my lap, cup of tea and chocolate biscuit in hand, reading a book I had down loaded on the kindle called '30 days of re-wilding'. It is written by a lovely Mother who lives with her family in a yurt in New Zealand (check out her blog here!). He kindly pointed out the irony of me reading (a little longingly!) about how to get your family out in the wild written by a family who live (an idyllic) life in a yurt, whilst sat despairingly on the sofa IN A YURT, IN THE WOODS. Like I said before. Just get outside.
We have been trying out lots of new groups recently and went to one last week that saw us stomping around in the rain, digging (eating) sand and mud, kneading (eating) dough and baking bread, painting (eating) fireworks with glue and glitter, and sitting round a fire pit toasting marshmallows (and yes, I did allow Oak to eat some of his marshmallow!). It was a good dose of practising what I preach. So we're making sure we get out every day, going for a walk, taking a towel to dry the swings in the park, kicking up the autumn leaves. I don't know whether it is because I spent last autumn in hospital but I feel like I'm seeing all the colours through new eyes this year. I am constantly amazed by the beauty that surrounds us. Oak thrives on fresh air, loves the feel of the rain on his face, laughs hysterically at small bugs on the ground and birds flying high above our heads. We are getting out and finding our wild edges. Winter; we're ready for you.