From my kitchen window, I watch that old tom cat trample down a spot in the prickly straw dead grass in the backyard. Satisfied with his work, he settles in, paws tucked delicately underneath, eyes closed, cold nose pointed toward the sun. The temperature won't climb above freezing, but there he lays, sunbathing.
I stand at my kitchen window, the one that faces west, and coat myself in the afternoon sun. I close my eyes and turn away from the sun, letting the heat warm the back of my neck. I resist the cold with everything within me; I cry when our pipes freeze overnight, crying because it shouldn't be this cold, crying because when will we learn how to do winter again? Four winters in South Texas ruined us for a lifetime further north.
The outside air stings, but inside there is warmth, an oasis from the cold, and I am grateful.
* * * * *
While I was in Dallas, Kyle launched into a task we've been talking about doing for months. The Big Purge. Deep Clean. Stuff Detox.
I arrived home to find our Williams Sonoma pottery gone. The pottery we bought in Texas when I was great with child (the firecracker who would be our Joyful Joy), the pottery we bought when we moved into our first house after years of apartment dwelling.
It was cracked and chipped, he said.
It's true, I said through pursed lips.
Pottery gone, replaced by plates more practical for children and that accommodate the clumsiness of The Wife. It's good, really, that the things I loved the most were the first to go. Even better that I wasn't here to see them removed. This process is painful for me, and he loves me enough to protect me from some of it.
Cookbooks? Gone. I find my recipes online now. Waffle iron? Gone. I never made waffles anyway. Three sets of measuring cups? Gone. How about just one set?
With laser-sharp focus, we volley our mantra back and forth to each other - Brutal. Keep only what is truly needed, get rid of the rest.
* * * * *
In most ways, we couldn't be more different - he and I. But we have landed on the same page in this, a vision for our home: OASIS.
The first time we turned the key in the lock of this eighty-year old house, sagging at the center, full of quirks, I fell madly in love with the windows. Unreasonably tall windows and lots of them. Light. Everywhere.
Our hope is for that feeling of lightness to pervade the whole house. For so long, decluttering meant merely finding new ways to store the same stuff. No more. Like the community at The Simple Way, we want to live small and dream big. Part of the fun is in the challenge - how little can we keep?
The ultimate goal for us to create a home that is truly an Oasis. When life swirls a cold winter wind around our family, our friends, and our community, we want our home to be a warm spot in the sun. Our vision is to be able to open the door to anyone, anytime, and not give a second thought to what the house looks like. Kyle has been trying to convince me for years, and now I am buying into it (finally) - when you don't have much stuff, you don't have much to pick up or clean or stash away when the doorbell rings.
We dream of intentional, engaged community, and of acting on the heart of hospitality given to us both. We're working hard on our Oasis.
* * * * *
My word for 2011 is Give.
Each month, I'll focus on a different aspect of giving. And so for January, we are working on giving an Oasis to ourselves, our children, and our community. We'll invite you along (with pictures and everything!) as we move through this month together.
(And if you come back tomorrow, you get a sneak peek of February's Give when I reveal the details of the Valentine's Project!)