Wednesday, June 30, 2010

summer bites

Last night Eva and I took Jack for a walk in the rain. We've been taking him every night lately and he was all jazzed up for a walk, even as I had completely forgotten. I was glad we decided to take him, though, because it gave me an opportunity to watch Eva and myself in the rain together picking up earthworms and slugs every few houses and moving them to safety on the grass or off the pavement... {This was meant to be an entire blog post but I can't seem to catch the feeling of last night, so taken with the current berry goodness that has washed over me and my kitchen currently. Suffice it to say that Eva and I tread lightly and think deeply about the other creatures out on damp nights like these. I leave you with that image as I move along to berry love.}

We've been to the upick three times this week. Once to pick strawberries, when I came back with the first raspberries of the season. The second time to pick raspberries, when I came back with the first sylvan blackberries of the season (and Tayberries!). The third time, today, to pick raspberries. And I came back with the most glorious flat of raspberries that I can remember ever having picked. These are the sort of raspberries that drip off the vine when I hold my hand under a few of them and they are so large I can fit at least three chocolate chips inside of one raspberry (I'd forgotten that raspberries are *made* perfectly for fitting chocolate chips inside).

One thing that I love about the upick is that sometimes- if you stay open to it- you can come away with abundance in unexpected forms. And sometimes, you can come away with abundance in exactly how you had hoped. And sometimes, you can come away with something far better than you had imagined. Any way you look at it, it's a pretty good deal to stand in the middle of rows of berries, listening to the hawks calling. But I wax poetical about the upick fairly often and am in sheer heaven this time of year with the abundance and variety of it all.

Inspired by the amazing raspberries I was presented with today and a camping trip we are heading out to tomorrow with friends, I made the cutest little raspberry hand pies you have ever seen. It has become a bit of a Fourth of July tradition for me at this point. Check them out-

These were inspired by Martha Stewart's Strawberry Hand Pies. I used a little less sugar and whole spelt flour. I also used a very small circle to make these hand pies around 2 1/2 inches across the back. I also made a few slightly bigger ones for variety and different tastes. Some like a small bite, some a larger, after all.

And then last, but certainly not least, the kids and I finished the first Harry Potter. They are, as I type, watching the first movie as well. I hope to catch it in the next couple of days when one of them is bound to want to re-watch it. Samuel has also been playing the new Lego Harry Potter for the Wii, so we have full immersion going on for sure. (I wanted to add that Samuel has taken to carrying around his magic wand a good part of the time as well.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

what's your turtle

After a botched trip to Toys R Us wherein we found out that not every toy found online is actually carried in the store {and before we could figure out what to do about that} I took the kids to the Audubon Society where we checked out the birds and then headed down to take a hike on the trails. For Eva this meant possible encounters with the resident newts. For Samuel this meant extreme irritation culminating in definite groundedness {which he had hoped to find during said trip to Toys R Us but which obviously alluded all if not most of us}. Mostly. Still, it's better when I listen and listen and listen without offering very much in the way of advice or fixing-it solutions (which will surely lead to even more frustration and less groundedness, whatever my intentions are pretending to be). I will say that I thought we left the Audubon Society in better spirits than when we arrived but Samuel might disagree with me on that point.

What I loved most about this trip- aside from the fact that we got to try out a new trail and walk deeper into the woods than we had before- was when we approached the newt pond, a boy about Samuel's age called out to us to tell us there was a turtle in the pond. I heard, "There's a turtle!" announced with such certainty and enthusiasm that I was hooked. The kids and I walked over to where he stood with his mom quietly- but enthusiastically!- watching the turtle. I didn't see the turtle at first and asked if he had been the one to mention the turtle. He said yes and pointed him out to us. He also told us there had been a mouse standing right there by his foot near the bank of the pond but that the mouse had left. Thankfully, the turtle had not and we- all of us- stood looking at the turtle with his head and shell poking out of the water. And then the turtle began to swim! across the pond. This was startling enough to catch the attention of the other person there, an Audubon volunteer who was wading through the pond searching for newts. She voiced what I think all of us were thinking- wouldn't it be fun to catch! the turtle? Unfortunately (for us, not the turtle), she also let us know she was there for the newts, not the turtle, and was committed enough to her cause to not allow herself to be distracted. The rest of us sighed {quietly} as she resumed searching the pond for newts. She was, after all, the only one of us who was really authorized to "catch the turtle" and without her we were left to continue to watch the turtle as he swam a little further out into the pond, away from us. Once he reached the tall reeds and we could no longer see him, we headed back into the woods to continue our walk.

I tell you, this is just the sort of thing that is sure to get me out of bed in the morning- the idea of seeing a turtle- or a tree frog- in the woods with my kids. I love that a stranger called out to us to let us know of this extraordinary event. I loved the thrill of it in his eyes. His enthusiasm. His mother patiently standing with him while he watched that turtle {even as it was apparent that seeing the turtle wasn't monumental for her, per se, she saw that it was for him and that was monumental for her}. She was there. I was there. We were all there. With the turtle. And you could feel it. At least I could. And I hope that even if my kids didn't, that they will remember it. Recognize it. Link it to what they love so that they will have a web of- what? A web of so many experiences and memories and knowledge of passion and enthusiasm and love in this life to return to over and over again. Enough knowledge of it all to know for certain what thrill-ing-ness gets them to jump out of bed each and every day in anticipation and delight.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

flower love

I have three posts started and unfinished in my editing box and can't seem to get to writing anything of interest down this last week or more. Or is it finishing anything of interest? I've spent a lot of time thinking and knitting and being out and about with my kids. Taking walks and upicking and spending time with friends. We finished Watership Down. Started our first Harry Potter book. Sat on the patio. Looked at the roses and poppies. I've been watching the grass grow. Cut it. Watched it grow some more. It is the rainiest June ever (from what I've been told. Although to be fair and honest, June is *always* rainy here- just not always quite this rainy- a perk if you moved here for the rain, a shock if you did not. Or if you forget what the weather is like from year to year. Still, this year has been rainier and muddier than past Junes, that is for sure.)

I feel a little sad over the bolted and long gone kale and mesclun mix I planted what seems like an eternity ago. They would {no doubt} be thriving now if they hadn't gotten so excited about those few warm sunny days a few weeks ago and sent out flowers to announce their enthusiasm. My radicchio, however, is thriving, as are the peas. And the poppies. The roses are a little smooshed-in-looking in some places but thriving {still}. The lilies have been blooming longer than usual {it seems} and the buttercups are amazing!

I'm going to be perfectly honest here and admit that aside from some of the cooler month veggies, I actually prefer growing flowers to most vegetables. I went through a whole thing over the last several years where I only planted vegetables (the strict, efficiently-practical side of me strongly exerted itself, peaked, and finally softened again, allowing for flowers to poke their way back into the garden...) I was also reminded by my beauti-filled-daughter just how much I loved growing flowers and slowly, slowly they have begun filling in the spaces in the garden, in the pots, and in the nooks out front until this summer when they have been given {at least} a full third of the raised beds. At least.

It helps to live in a space that was so clearly designed by someone who also loved working and living with flowers. On that note-

Roses loving the rain, Columbine loving the extra space, Dianthus peaking. And look who showed up unannounced this year- Star of Bethlehem.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

spider haiku

crawling under webs
spinning out in the sparkling
sunshine summer's here

Saturday, June 12, 2010

natural optimism

I love so much about this image. Last month the maple tree in our yard sent out hundreds of maple seeds {at least}, each helicoptering outward to a suitable growing spot. This little guy, along with a few others, took root in just enough soil and such on our patio. Check out the ant crawling along the tip of one of the leaves. Amazing the possibility in any attempt being worthwhile. It doesn't have to be perfect or forever. It just has to be.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Spiders and squash and such like

I spent the day unpacking and doing a general pick up around the house, focusing a good bit of my energy on the patio. I am reminded of how very alive it is out there when I attempt to sweep the floors, particularly during this time of year. The broom uncovers one baby spider after another, running for cover. I quick! rush to sweep up the dirt and clutter before they find their way to safety within the newly swept piles. (I don't want to throw them away. I help them to safety. Find a new spot. Spin a new web. ) Ants, spiders, dried flowers, piles of Eva's drawings, knitting projects in mid-stitch, squirt guns.

The liveliness- the very aliveness- is tangible when I walk out to the compost pile with the last of the squash. (Man it was a good year for squash. Is it just me or was there enough squash to feed everyone and their dog this year. {Of course, I mean those dogs who will actually eat squash. Of course. Which leaves out my dog. Of course. Which may be why I had so much squash left over? Perhaps.} I had my fill, of course, back in November or December and simply bided my time over the next couple of months until I could carry the last of them out to the compost pile in good conscience. {That's not entirely true. I must have eaten more squash than I remember because I usually do. The large quantities of squash were most probably extra-punctuated by the complete lack of cabbage. That's all. That, and the fact that once the greens start flowing in earnest, I tend to forget about other vegetables like winter squash. And green beans.})

I walk through a part of the backyard near the compost pile that has been slightly flooded from all of the rain. The ground is saturated and there are several large puddles of standing water in one area in particular. Large worms lay on the open ground, half submerged in thick mud. I see others making their way across a few of the round stepping stones. I smile at this, glad the stones can help. I can't resist and stop to help one of the worms who immediately scrunches himself in that way worms do that prevents any but the smallest fingers from taking hold. It's the worm's equivalent of going limp, making it impossible to pick him up. Don't eat me. Don't eat me. This squished up worm hides as best he can among the stone crevices.

I move on. A good bit of mud squishes between my toes as I walk barefoot to the higher ground where the compost pile actually stands and I comment in my head how once again the woman-who-lived-here-before-us was so incredibly thoughtful about each thing, right down to making sure to put the compost pile on slightly higher ground so that it was less likely to flood when even the area with the elijah blue has flooded. Even there, though, the worms have congregated in heaps just under the lid. The ground is too thick with moisture and they must find higher ground. Safety. Inside the bin, slugs crawl along the debris, spiders spin what are possibly the most productive webs I have ever seen. Copious amounts of fruit flies make their home in this compost pile and while I am aware that this signifies an imbalance {technically} in the composition of the pile, I know I am not going to do anything to remedy it. I am fine with the fruit flies inside the bin. Fine with the spiders and the slugs. Fine with the worms gathering in heaps. Fine with the mud between my toes. Fine as I stand and look around at the yard, for once blocking out any directives my mind produces to take care of the lawn or weed the iris bed or listen to any one of a long list of things to do, things that need to be done. Always things that need to be done. I am free of it all for this moment, appreciating the roses and irises in bloom. The piles of buttercups overflowing now that the gardener has cut back the roses. The mud squishing further between my toes. It's lush. It's glorious. It's this amazing aliveness that I am able to notice and appreciate in this moment. And then it's gone. And I am walking back up to the patio, lingering as I smell the thyme. Picking a little lemon balm.

Back up on the patio, I toss out the last of the debris and move the garlic up to the shelf with last year's Chamomile and Calendula left overs. And that's when I notice my pogo stick. Right there. Where it's been for the last, oh I dunno know, four months? Five months? Gosh, it's been such a long time since I made time to pogo. Such a funny verb to use. I play with it in my mind for a split second. Bounce. Pounce. Pogo. And I grab the stick and head out to the open area just outside the patio. A perfect place for pogoing.

I bounce and it feels free. I notice the flowers in the neighbors' yards. The ones I rarely see because they are blocked by the fences surrounding us. We have our privacy, our own space. I bounce above it. I think of bouncing when I was a kid. Of jumping rope. Of flowers. Of smiling uncontrollably. Of counting. After about 50 bounces on the pogo stick my dog comes out to join me. As usual, he play bows and bounces in his own doggie way. I stop my own bouncing for fear of pouncing on one of his paws as he jumps forward and backward, up and down with the pogo stick, barking at me, at the action, at the fun.

He can feel it. He is it. He grounds me in this moment of noticing this life around me, this life in me. All of it. The pogo stick. The flowers. The rain starting to sprinkle down on us as we make our way into the relative dryness of the patio and finally into the house where I am able to see, at least for this moment, the aliveness inside. My kids. The guinea pigs. Spiders in the corners. An extra dog. And me.