Days Empty and Full

Me in a past epoch

It’s the season for extolling the benefits of homeschooling. January in this Northern Hemisphere brings cold gales and pouring rain, and who wants to go out? Who wouldn’t want to build a wood fire, curl up with a book and some kiddos on your lap, and glory in having a cozy nest?

Children need time and space and quiet, people say, so that they can concentrate, and not be constantly interrupted to run errands or take part in some group activity out of the home. I agree heartily. I’m not going to post links to these blogs because there are too many good ones. You’ve probably read or written one yourself.

And I realized, as I was pondering the excellent explanations, that I am one of those children still. I had the kind of upbringing that some people might look at and say, “How boring!” But I never felt that. I thrived in the timelessness of those long country days with not much to do. There was always a book or magazine to read, or a letter to write to Grandma, or a new pattern to try sewing. This poem that Marigold posted hints at the blessedness:


What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?
Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

– Philip Larkin

For over 30 years I had my own children filling my days–at first, it was easy to stay home a lot, and everyone could pay attention to whatever it was they were focused on. As the children got older we were running around more.

Now, I don’t often get a whole day to be home. Going out in the morning, to the gym or shopping, makes it a challenge to gather my wits when I get back home. It seems that I am scattered for hours. I am particularly aware and thankful when I get one of those homey days that I took for granted back then, and this poem that Maria passed on tells how I feel.


An empty day without events.
And that is why
it grew immense
as space. And suddenly
happiness of being
entered me.

I heard
in my heartbeat
the birth of time
and each instant of life
one after the other
came rushing in
like priceless gifts.

~ Anna Swir (1909-1984), Polish poet

11 thoughts on “Days Empty and Full

  1. Great post, GJ! I so agree. When I stopped teaching, I would often wake up in the morning and realize (with enormous relief) that there was nowhere I had to go and nothing I had to do that day — wonderful — 'happiness of being entered me'! I still struggle with balancing the feeling that I need to be constanly productive v. the need to slow down and just live.

    p.s. adorable photo — love those braids!


  2. Hi! I followed you over from my friend's (Laura–Morningside Family) blog. I've been here many times before, but I don't get around to my old favorite blogs much anymore, so my visits are more sporadic now. I noticed the link at the bottom of this post to “Oregon,” and since I live there, I had to follow the trail!

    I see that you went to Crater Lake last summer. I've been there many, many times for hiking, relaxation, and snow-shoeing. I lived with my family in Klamath Falls for 13 years. That was the setting for an old blog I did (it was called High Desert Home), and I loved being in that wild part of the world.

    I also see that you were in the Bend area and on Mt. Bachelor. Just a couple of weeks after you were there, I was across the way climbing the South Sister (I have some photos up on a little blog I put together for my family called, if you're interested in seeing it!).

    I really love your photos. They stir everything in me that so loves nature. Your words are always so nice to read, too.

    I'm glad I stopped by today!


  3. I am in my “latter days” of homeschooling and still, I love these homey days together. There is a sharing between us even when he is off reading on his own and I am about some other task. We are still at home. Together.

    I really liked the poetry.



  4. Susan, those pictures of your hike are stunning. I can pretty much smell and feel the air on South Sister from your photos. I am going to send the link to several of the hikers in my family and they will be inspired. I would post this comment on your blog post but that particular comment format doesn't work for me. Maybe that's why I didn't ever comment on High Desert Home when I used to read your blog there. Thanks for letting me in on the special posting.


  5. I love those days when I only leave the house to take a walk or work in the yard. Like you, once I break the spell of home and head out for errands and such, it takes me hours to recover.

    Love the Larkin poem, with his doctors and priests running across the field in alarm!



  6. I love being home, but we choose to fill our days with meeting up with friends, going to karate class or piano, running to buy some groceries at Trader Joe's…

    What a sweet photo of you reading…to your daughter? In the winter, we do spend a lot of time by the warm woodstove, dancing around the living room and baking together.


  7. I have had a homey contented week, but this post puts it into words! Thank you, as usual. It feels therefore highly inappropriate but I nonetheless find myself inviting you to add gravitas and erudition to a little Wind in the Willows blog event over at fraise. Staying home in the Mole Hole for January!


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