cucumber dreams

cucumber vines, beauty in nature, love, farmingThey say time flies when you are having fun, but really, after a certain point in your life, time flies no matter if you are having fun or not. I haven’t been able to get a blog post in since the first morning yawn of April. That is a long time ago. But no, really, it was just a blink of the eye.

I had planned on keeping everything under control this farm season, my house, my writing schedule, my mama-hood-y goodness. I would still make time for us to see friends. I wouldn’t have a mountain of crazy to uncover come late autumn, I wouldn’t disappear. I wanted to keep summer from barreling over us faster than we could keep the purposeful and intentioned steps of our feet on the ground. But summer. Farming. Maybe it isn’t really possible.

I am trying to be gentle on myself. I have these four children, and we are all in this together, and no matter how much of a super-human I feel like I am supposed to be, I am not. I am super, but I am also human. I feel compelled to do all these things, but I don’t see for a minute how I can do them all well. As the children get older, they find that just being on the farm and snacking on fresh food and having life be consumed by this one thing that is such a good, good thing, such a necessity in times gone, isn’t as enough as it once was. And I think–rather, I know–that I need a few more hands in the field and in the home and that my two are not as enough as they once seemed, either. And another summer is going to be gone before I know it. Another year. I don’t like the feeling of life controlling me, but perhaps all along I was wrong to think that I could control it. I feel a bit like a rock, stuck, wondering if there is really any purpose to this madness. I wonder, too much, perhaps, about everything.

So, I try not to. Instead, I get up, I walk the fields, my fields. The plants, my loves. I marvel at the coming abundance. I sweat, I ache, I let my body do what it was made to do. Move and work, provide. I think, on the summer solstice, of winter. It isn’t that far away. I let go a little, and let those vegetables wait while I find my breath and stay present with the kids, my dear sweet children. I want to fix what I perceive to be broken, but there isn’t a fix, not at this moment, not now, midsummer. So, I surrender as best I can, not knowing what to do, but doing the best I can for now.

I eagerly await the first cucumber. I will let it be divine.

It will be, divine.

From seed to seed

spring, farm, farm life, pride, ego, letting goThe world around me is fully greening up now. It is a beautiful sight, all plant growth expanding, even though, as always, the wild plants and perennials take off infinitely faster than the wee little cultivated seedlings and transplants we have tucked into the fields ourselves. They are growing, certainly, but it is like watching the pot, so to speak. It is slow compared to our desire, and slow compared to the explosion of grass and weed that is so full of force and life in the spring by comparison.

Still, we have a good harvest coming in, the last push of the overwintered plants in the field are making florets now, giving us a whole other crop to eat, and the greenhouse bridges the gap by growing food fast enough while we wait for that same speed to issue forth out of doors. All green food, in spring, all great food. Spinach, lettuce, kale, turnip greens, and arugula. And wild harvests galore, because so much of the early spring weed growth is meant to be eaten, it’s true. Nettles, dandelion, wild mustard. I am making herbal vinegars with all these plants I need to pull up anyway, a nice way to hold onto all the goodness these wildings want to give away right now, even if they are growing in all the wrong places. Like we do, the earth and I, we are dancing together the dance of the season. Even the onions, right now, are green. And the garlic, too.

But it isn’t as easy to find that same green-ness in ourselves, not always, as we age, as life adds layer upon layer to our skin. I found myself in tears yesterday, in the wash station with this week’s spinach, because my oldest child is almost thirteen years old. That is only five years, by the books, five years, and there you have it, a childhood. And I know, I know, that it isn’t really left much, already, not truly even five years more. This slayed me, for some reason, out of the blue, while I worked, because his childhood is one of the most important things to me in the world.

It is so hard, this parenting gig, and I have done so many great things as a mother and so many things I wish I could take back. I started out thinking I would do everything right. I didn’t accept at all, on the outset, that life and love would be perfectly human, and that I too, must be.

But I know better than to let the sadness, the worry, wash me away, so I came inside and gave this young boy, on his way to young man, a hug. I let go. Letting go is all that we can do. Over and over and over again, the only way to keep moving forward. I have faith, too. That is just as important.

I never expect the earth to hold on to last season. I know, each spring, that we are on a new ride. Sure, I have lessons learned, I have new ideas, but that doesn’t mean it will be perfect this time round. And yet, I know, too, that I can just as surely count on things to grow, for food to be produced. The earth provides, every year, again and again, without any trace of growing older, without any hint of defeat. Without worry or weight, things just follow through, as best they can, from seed to seed.

So, must we.

 

 

learning to play in the snow

snow, farm, winter, funThe snow started falling Thursday.  Just the sight of it in the sky is pretty exciting around these parts since it doesn’t happen that often, but that it was slowly starting to stick to the ground, that the forecast predicted accumulation, this was big news.  So, we sent the papa to the store early, before the roads turned for the worse, and then we settled in, expecting at least one special snow day.  What we got instead was four of them, along with nearly a foot of perfect, fluffy snow.

It was amazing.

And so much fun.

snow fun, snow play, the importance of play, snow daysnow play, learnig to play, snow funsnow fun, play, the importance of play, snow funWith the landscape transformed, and everything on hold, we took to imagining we were in a cabin in the mountains.  We made the event into a little vacation and it has been just as relaxing and invigorating and awesome as a real get away.  It helped that at this time of the year we don’t have our weekend markets to get to, or pressing work, no major missed obligations.  Letting go of the “normal” and embracing the surprising, turning the worry into wonder, receiving this weather as a gift, it wasn’t too hard, which ended up making it such a blessing in so many ways.

tractor, snow, farm, winterIn all the busy that is life, the day to day to day, it can be so hard to really nourish ourselves, to fill up our tanks, keep the holy light within us burning bright.  I often think that I do a fine job of this with all the quiet moments with my thoughts I cultivate, the breathing, the stretching, the meditations, the time in nature, and so much reflecting; but there is a flip side to that type of practice that is important too, one I tend to shy away from.  You see, my first instinct upon trekking out into the snow is to marvel at the beauty, the stillness. I watch, carefully, the birds that appear alone in the landscape, drinking from the warm water that runs out of our kitchen into the field, checking old, dead sunflower heads for any remaining seed.  I listen and think how on a regular day even the small amount of traffic on our country road is noisy compared to this deep silence.  I bring along the camera, I notice the white, the red, the blue, the color the snow adds to the landscape in winter when things are all brown and grey, such a surprise.  I enjoy myself in these activities, immensely.

My children, on the other hand, immediately started to play, hard.

And although I consider the things I enjoy to be play for me, it wasn’t until the second day into our snowy-ness that I agreed, mostly to appease the children and their father, to get on the snow gear too, to ride the snow board, to sled down the hill.  And although I thought one time down I would have done my duty, I realized instead (of course!) that this was too much fun to be done with.  And as I warmed up from the up and down of it, the motion and moving, each swoosh of it all, I tapped into a feeling I hadn’t felt in a while.  I felt young.

In the middle of gliding down our powdery hill, going up over the small little jump the kids had made and landing, usually, in a tumble of giggles and yahoos in the snow, I realized that there is a fine line between accepting yourself for who you are, and loving that and being okay with that and doing your own thing and not trying to do all the things, between that and remaining stagnant and forgetting to be inquisitive and not trying new things. Between that and not remaining playful.  

Another fine lesson in balance it was, which seems to be life’s running theme.  Not black, not white, it keeps saying. Not stillness, nor flurry. Not just the in breath, not just the out.   The lesson, for me, was this–it is good for you to find things not just breathtaking, but breathmaking.  Check, I get it.

And I think my kids enjoyed what they saw as a different side of me.  A little lighter, a little louder.  A lot more than I was that morning.

snow, farm, snow day, funfarm, snow, snow days, funsnow, fun, snow day, farm, wintersnow, fun, farm, snow daysnow, children, fun, snow day, farmI am certain this is something I need to explore more this year, and the many more to come.  It seems like just the kind of thing to do when one is nearing forty.  Probably as good as all that loving and learning and accepting of me as the wonderful person I am was in my thirties, a (near) decade that I loved.  As I did my twenties, with all that questioning of all the things.  I want them all to be good because they all are.

Life is a magnificent journey, never stagnant, so I can not be either.

there is beauty all around you

mundane beauty, internal happiness, finding joy all around youBack in my early twenties, a close friend and I had this running debate going.  We were students together, worked together, and although we were in many ways polar opposites, we were such good friends.  We met within the first week of classes my first year, and our friendship held from then until my marriage and first birth, when I got enveloped in a certain wonder child’s wiggly ten toes and fingers and could hardly see anything else, wrapped in the blanket of motherhood so deeply that when I emerged, I found we had not really kept up with things and both of us had moved on.

But in our way of not agreeing on things back then, we had an ongoing discussion about the place of “place” in a person’s happy making.  He was ever ready to be finished with his studies, hungry to move away, to get out of the Midwest.  He had no fondness for this seemingly nondescript town in the middle of Nebraska.  I, on the other hand, was not so hard on it.  I could see the places where it shined and loved the people particularly shiny who lived there.  To be completely fair, it was probably easier for me to call on its graces because the University that we attended was in a town just miles from where I grew up.  I had a special kind of love for it that I could call on when needed, that childhood familiarity.

But I did understand, some.   I had spent my teen years plotting my own escape from that landscape through colleges way out here on the west coast not far from where I’ve landed myself now.  All of those options were more than appealing, the end goal of all those straight A’s I’d busied myself with in high school.  But in the end, a full scholarship seemed more reasonable than high costs, and I started to look forward to sharing these years with friends I was already close to.  In the end, I knew, I didn’t want to be out here alone.  So this mix of finances and fraternity, and a little bit of fear, won out over the adventure of moving away that I had always envisioned I’d take as close to high school graduation day as possible.

But our debate ran deeper than simply attachments to home or a dislike for locale.  I did get that, I felt both.  It was more about the way he seemed to be waiting to be fully happy.  In my ever philosophical way, my argument against this waiting was that happiness, deep and true, could not be about place at all.  My position wasn’t distinctly original by any means, it went a bit like this–if you can’t be happy here, you won’t be happy there.  A gold standard.

And what I kept beating him over the head with was this–you can be happy here, and then, you’ll be even happier there.

Not that a change of scenery isn’t wonderful.  Not that it isn’t sometimes just the thing.  I am sometimes so indescribably happy here in my new home, so very happy in this place in time.  But still, I remember.  I know that with or without it, I have held my happiness close to me, tucked next to my beating heart, for such a long time, in all the places I’ve been.  The truth is you own your happiness, your surroundings do not.

In the drear that can be January here, and then February, March, April, and sometimes May, the grey can really get to people.  In the days of more inside than out, though we still always do get out, the children in the middle of my brood are at just the right ages, and have just the right personalities that tend towards feeling the blah of an uneventful, winter’s day at home, working away at nothing more than our studies, our chores, the reading by the fire, the endless board games, tea, and what they see as more than one too many soups and stews on the table.  There is certainly a different flavor to this season, especially once the holidays end, that can start to taste “boring”.

But all of this, to me, is happiness.  I am a homebody, an introvert.  Give me quiet, sweet days with these little imps where we do not rush, we do not have to, and I am in love.  But I get it, I remember.  My daughter wants to see her friends all the time.  She is not content with a day where “nothing” happens.  And my middle son, whose skills and ambitions lie in things that are either too big of a project for such a day or out of his range or simply out of season for now like building go carts or tree forts or learning to hunt and going on survival hikes, he kind of just sits in here languishing while his older brother draws and draws and draws and I read and knit and write.  He is not one for sitting, and even the woodshop which can keep him busy takes some initiative to go work in when it is cold outside.

But this feeling, this boredom, I still try to bring to my children the only true fact I know about it, as often as I can, with my own actions and words, that the only way out is through.  For any human being, this is a handy skill to have in your pocket.  To learn to love the mundane, the day to day of any season, the grey sky, the blah days, they will happen, it is unavoidable, and feeling good and being happy isn’t just a matter of riding the high waves, the summertime fun.  I know that this was hard for me in my youth.  So hard.  But why wait to learn some of these lessons.  I wish they could know the beauty of now, now.  I know I hope my old friend has found this little gem somewhere on the roadside of his travels.  The sooner the better, right?

And yet, as with anything there for the learning, I can’t pour it into them.  They have to fill their own vessels of knowledge, as much as I do, and don’t, want to do it for them.

So, I pause.

I savor.

Dead plants are as pretty as alive ones.  There is beauty everywhere.  I can only show them one example, and never a perfect one, and hope they can see it, too.

 

still life

photography, kitchen, capture the light, still life A still life.  Sometimes, that sounds just right, doesn’t it?  Or we look around and see so many perfect, beautiful, still shots of life and think, yes!

But the only blessing of stillness is in the reminder.  It isn’t meant to last.  It isn’t meant to be the way of things.  It is a moment. You breathe, you know, you remember.  And then it goes, because it is fleeting, at best, and rightly so.  You return to movement.  Flurried, fast.  Full.

You move and all the things around you move, and keep right on moving nearly non stop.  And it is good, moving, as quickly as you fly, because that is what life is.  Don’t try to slow it down too often.  Just often enough.

Just long enough to capture the light.  To tuck it back inside you, fill yourself back up.  But it doesn’t really pay, in the end, to linger.  Turn those beams back onto the road.  Drive.

A still life is stagnant, it isn’t what we crave.  We crave the reminder, the refreshing.  So take those in small bites and keep moving.  And find all the grace and gratitude you can manage for the movement, because really, it is the stuff of life, it is your light shining through your life.   The movement around you and the mess of living, hopefully it is the mess and movement of surrounding yourself with love, through others or work or play.  Love!

Happy Wednesday All!

happy life, busy life, sweet children, parenting, love IMG_0022