September

September was:

canning, drying, freezing, jamming, beaches, hikes, early freezes, back to home-schooling, messy house making, returning to Sunday, not weeding, still watering, kind of waiting for the real turning of the seasons but loving the lingering heat too.

A baby turned two.  A papa turned thirty-four.

We are, this family and farm, growing and changing and the two grown-ups here are really excited and happy, despite some of the hard moments we faced this summer, with the decisions and enlightenment this season brought us.

Was there anything more to ask of September?

I guess it has come and gone and was as full as could be.

We are still swimming in the river, although the nights and mornings are cold and so even the heat of the day can’t warm the water as much as before.  Still, the other night as I was turning off lights and putting the house to bed, I walked by the woodstove and was flooded with the memory of a warm fire in the house. I couldn’t help but want that, just a little bit.  Moving forward, that’s what the end of September feels like, and forward is always the right direction to go.

Moment of Bliss

The rain has been relentless this week.  Our bottom field is flooded all the way to the river again, the third time this year.  This is seasonally wet ground, so the flood doesn’t do any harm for now since we don’t expect these fields to be dry until sometime in May.  Still, a full fledged flooding of the river to our ground usually only happens once a season, so it feels like something!  In fact, we are breaking rainfall records for March, so the feeling of too much rain isn’t just a “spring in the Pacific Northwest”  kind of grumble.  There has been A LOT of rain this week!

In spite of the somewhat oppressive feeling of the weather in general over here, though, I still find myself outside in a break from the wet, harvesting parsley for market tomorrow and breathing in such fresh, fresh air, thinking about how absolutely beautiful it is out.  Happy to be breathing, bathed in the smell of the cut herb, intoxicated by a tree full of cherry blossoms overhead, thrilled at the wildness of the patch of baby parsley’s all gone to seed and perennialized–my favorite kind of garden.

The children are climbing trees while the baby giggles from below.  I have my favorite hot pink gardening gloves on that were picked up on the cheap by the farmer for me and aren’t nearly the best we have on hand, but do the job and bring a smile to my face at the same time and are much easier to keep as a pair than his millions of left handed ones on the porch with no match!

And then we walk to the main field, grab some rutabagas for dinner with a lazy, old black dog and spry, young black cat following us, the two most favorite companions of our small boy right now, so he is laughing at them as I hold him in one arm, the harvest in the other.

Did I mention the air is so fresh?

And I am just so in love with it all–this farm, these kids and their father, this wild and precious life.

Sometimes it is impossible to live your dream and I don’t think we all get the chance.   And I really do know full well that at any moment I might lose the chance I have been given.  But there are these moments, and I just can’t believe the simple happiness of it all.

Rainy Days

Last week the weather went from snow to glorious-the angels-are-singing-and-I-will-stay-outside-and-move-compost-and-plants-way-past-dinnertime-sun in one day.  That sun was pretty much gone by Sunday, but for the few days it was here we reveled.   The last few days have been rainy and feel a little like a let down even when they are not unexpected.  After a few days of being able to be outside almost all day, the house feels cramped with paper scraps and toys.

We have gotten out, of course.  We get outside every day and the smallest boy doesn’t care what the weather is; he announces, “shoe! shoe!” at the door almost first thing in the day.  Really the rain at this time of year is made all the more bearable by the warmth.  Yesterday he and I harvested some veggies for the family and a trade account and it was so nice I had to take off some of the wool I set out in.  And the birds, so chipped themselves with all that bird song.   It is hard not to stay outside even as our pant legs get soaked.

We are at that point in the year when our bodies and minds feel a driving energy that time inside just doesn’t suit.  We can get creative and stave off true cabin fever for now, but who doesn’t really just want to be out in the dirt right now?  I know I do.

Seeing green (and red)

Everywhere I look, green.  At every meal of the day, collard greens and mustard greens and kale greens, alongside dark green kale rapinis and light green turnip rapini.  There are some purples working there way in as we harvest wild violets for fun and the sprouting broccoli from the field, and the purple cape cauliflowers are heading up nicely.  But mostly, it is green, green, green.

The grass is growing–really growing–a bright and tender green. The willows have new neon looking leaves coming on and soon the other trees will start to put on their clothes too.  Everything is greening up as we get so close to the spring equinox I can barely stand it; I am so excited for more sun, or daytime as it were here in the Pacific Northwest.  Even though we have had snow (!) more than a few times this March, and even though spring for us means rain and rain and more rain, the changing landscape and longer days feel good.  So refreshing.

And yesterday,  in the midst of getting ready for a small birthday sleepover for our second boy, born on the spring equinox eight years ago, we all scrounged up something green to wear and checked our Leprechaun traps for magical creatures and treasure in honor of St. Patrick’s day.

This used to be an “enjoy a–or many depending on what age we are talking about–Guinness or other finely brewed beer” day.  Now it is a fun for the small fries kind of day since they love holidays so much and in our home this usually means some kind of feast.  St. Patrick’s day is the easiest, Irish fare being so simple.  Some lamb maybe, or sausages.  Potatoes, cabbage, onion–all good mid-March farm food.  And that is usually it, our passing nod to Ireland and our own heritage (we have Irish blood on both sides).

This year, since we were having extra children over and because it was Luca’s choice, we had homemade pizza instead.

And this year, as the farmer and I start to think about studying history with the children as they get older, I was particularly struck by this article.  We are finding ourselves hard pressed to keep things simple and pleasant as we delve deeper into these studies, even as we try to take things slow.

Our smallest learn history through stories.  They can get an idea of how people lived in other times without too much blood to worry about.  Sometimes we can investigate further and visit museums or check out other books about various time periods to extend our understanding.  All in all, though, we don’t tend to get into any of the nitty gritty.

But our precocious older child, so keen on growing up faster than he needs to–once he finally reaches the level of maturity his taste for talking about current affairs and the seedier side of history necessitates, I hope to share both the good, the bad, and the ugly with him so that he can learn to critically examine the things that have happened before him in this tale of humankind so that he will then be able to critically examine the things that are going on around him.

The history of Ireland is just one of many stories that isn’t all that pretty.

And as the article points out, the great potato famine provides a pretty important lesson for today.  As the genetic diversity of farmed crops and the seed banks both shrink, it doesn’t hurt to give the lumper potato and the famine in Ireland some of our time.

For the farmer and I, we find that there is still so much to be learned from the past.  So much that we weren’t introduced to in our studies of history at school.  So much misinformation or generalization it is maddening.

So this St. Patrick’s day we looked a little closer at this time in Irish history.  When our kids get (much) older, we’ll discuss it with them too.

For now, while they are still so innocent and young, I am happy to get a pinch before I get dressed for the day when I didn’t go to bed wearing green, and to imagine that at the end of every rainbow there really is a pot of gold.

And it is both of these things that are so important to do as we live this life.  We must look hard to discover both the shining gold and the smoke and ashes of our story.

Each time

Let me tell you, it is just as fun the fourth time around as the first, second, and third.  Each time, it has been equally exciting and amazing.

Those first milky smiles and baby coos, the learning to crawl and then those first stumble-y steps…breathtaking.

Right now, we are discovering books.  We read from 2-3 baby chosen favorites many, many times a day.  They are all about farm animals and he is most interested in their sounds–ironic, really, since we have downsized dramatically in the farm animal department this year and currently only have four pigs almost ready to go to the butcher.

Books are a big part of our lives here, and bringing the smallest fry into the literature loving fold tickles this mama just as much as ever.

We are also discovering language in a BIG way!  Each day a new word is added to the talk. Shoe, up, off, door, go, eat, more, these are the recent favorites.  And as the phase of development where “mama” means a million different things is slowly being replaced with these single words used both as definitions and questions with lots of pointing–not to mention for things they don’t actually refer to exactly a lot of the time too, it is just as sweet and fascinating and fun as ever.

This boy has the sweetest voice, and when he uses it my heart melts.

He sings with it too, a lot, and this is kind of his own thing.  He loves to sing and dance and listen to music, I think Cadence was just the right name.  Each time there is something new and unique these children bring with them, and each time, that is pretty neat too.

We feel the same way about going through the growing seasons.   As repetitive as the cycle of growing is, each time we are just as excited to move through it, both for its sameness every time and because it is different every year too.

There are the varieties of things, some tried and true, with flavors and appearance we look forward to.  We eagerly await that first taste of sweet pea, roasted green beans and Italian summer squash, the first fresh, sliced, heilroom tomato.   And always, there are new things to try; this year we are especially curious to see the Indigo Purple tomato, to taste the fresh garbanzo beans.

There is the weather, always moving from winter to spring to summer to fall.  But the how and when is always a little different with a different impact on the growing things.  Each year, different crops stand out in their abundance, others treasured for their scarcity for whatever reason.  Endlessly fascinating, the variable but steady nature of this work.

There is no doubt about it:  watching little sprouts grow up…each time, it is a miracle.