Yesterday, I was reminded of an invaluable lesson: nothing lasts forever, so we must learn to let go.

I was enjoying a cup of coffee and reading a little, as I like to do every Saturday morning, and in turn, appreciating my good fortune - so much so that I took a photo of my favorite handmade coffee cup, which was given to me by a friend, along with my stack of books that were resting upon the window sill with the majestic mountain view.

That moment of serene gratitude lasted all but a few minutes before the little ones began hooting and hollering, not realizing that is was supposed to be a quiet Saturday morning here at Hacienda Dominguez & Chelenzo Farms.

And then, the toilet got plugged up. So, I had to let go of my dreams of getting a good chapter in and get up to plunge.

Upon my return, after asking the kids to hush and play quietly, I sat back down in my comfy lounge chair and resumed reading. A minute later the dogs jumped into my lap and made themselves comfortable. A minor disruption that became fairly unnoticeable once they snuggled in.

But then the racket of “who was cheating who” during a game of Rack-o began, which ultimately motivated Olivia to come over and grab one of the sleeping dogs. She wedged herself in between us and the sill, and as I begged her leave them alone, she inadvertently backed into the my cup, which fell to the concrete floor and shattered.

At that moment my patience broke and I yelled, in as muffled of a fashion as practically impossible, “Oliiiiviiiiia, that was my favorite cup.”

I made her pick up the pieces and restrained myself from any further berating, because I could see she was feeling bad.

My consolation came by way of reminding myself that “children will be (careless) children,” and at least the shards will add a little cheeky flair to our faux antiquated pottery site I have planted on the trail to the cactus garden.

So, I took the pieces from Olivia and immediately walked outside to lay them to rest, so that they too might become coveted pieces of relic-heaven.

Coincidentally, we watched “Raiders of the Lost Ark” last night at the grand opening of the Hacienda Domínguez Drive-in Theater (I hung our old 8 foot screen on The Shed door, and set up the projector, speakers and lawn chairs) and one of the quotes that resounded with me was said by Indiana Jones’s arch-archeologist:

Belloq: …Look at this [holds up a silver pocket watch] it's worthless. Ten dollars from a vendor in the street. But I take it, I bury it in the sand for a thousand years, it becomes priceless! Like the Ark. Men will kill for it; men like you and me.

So, maybe, there’s a minim of redemption in that thought. Someday, the pieces of my mug will be worth something (again).

But what I find invaluable now is the reminder that nothing is permanent: not prized possessions, not an imagined moment of peace and quiet made for reading, and especially not life itself.

The fact that we are all tangled in a mortal coil that unravels over our lifetime is something we are reminded of every day here in the country.

It is conveyed by messages and mentions every other day by our neighbors that our little animals are quite vulnerable to the surrounding wildlife, which will only get hungrier as the frost settles in and lizards and birds and bugs become scarcer over winter.

The thought also comes up in our daily conversations. For instantce, there’s the one we had after watching “A Life on Earth,” the latest documentary from Sir David Attenborough, who reminisces over his career as a naturalist and laments that he has witnessed the exponential demise of life on earth as a result of his observations; or the discussion about reincarnation we explored while watching a documentary on ancient civilizations; and then, there is the weekly discussion about how fat the hens are getting and delicious the ducks will be and how WE WILL have to eventually slaughter them before we feast.

Sadly, all this is supplemented by my wife’s experience and stories as a doctor. And the pandemic has only highlighted that purview even more so. In fact, alas, yesterday, we received news that her former medical assistant passed away, only a day after receiving her booster vaccination shot. She was a mere 48 and she died while watching tv with her 19-year old daughter.

So, the silver lining to all this is the reminder and realization that life is precious and we are all here only a short time, so it behooves us to make the most of it by continually learning, being aware and conscientious of how we live and that what we do and say and save and reuse and recycle impacts everything.

Along those lines, Lesson Reminder #2: We are Wasteful. The whole country-living-thing certainly has me thinking…and observing, and realizing this. Practically every day now, it seems as if we’re filling a 13-gallon bin with recyclable plastics, cardboard and glass.

When we we’re living in New York, I’m sure we we’re generating just as much recyclables, but then the city picked it up once a week.

Now that we have to take them ourselves to the local “transfer station” (I still find that to be a euphemism for “we’re taking your trash to some other unfortunate community, so you don’t have to smell it”), it has become glaringly apparent how much packaging we use as a family and it feels awfully wasteful, especially in the context of our aspirations to be “self sustainable.”

(Sigh) all I can say and think is, “at least we’re trying.” Every day we try to generate a little more, while using a little less. Although we will never mirror the life of our indigenous ancestors, we continually keep them in mind as we learn to farm and conserve and live off the land and harmoniously thrive, as one, with nature.