Friday, February 20, 2009

Seeds of Learning

I'm shamelessly lifting this term, "seeds of learning," from an organization by the same name that our friends Dan and Robin have worked with. I have always appreciated the phrase; simple, straightforward, meaningful, and applicable to nearly everything we do here. Maybe one day we'll be the great oaks of the neighborhood, imparting our wisdom on other learners. But for a long time yet, we will be seedlings, reaching toward what we hope is nourishing sun, but at times getting our young heads bitten off by the pests of misunderstanding, foolishness, and foiled but valiant attempts at success.

Last night we met with our dear neighbors and friends, Don and Joni. They are seasoned growers, passionate, gracious people, and legends around here - known for their incredible skills and knowledge and open-minded, open-hearted philosophies. They have reached out to our Lostview Farm community, offering friendship and guidance in the craft of growing, as well as an opportunity to garden side-by-side with them starting this spring. For anyone who has attempted a garden of their own, with or without a green thumb, it can be a painstakingly beautiful process with great potential of blowing up in your face at any, pests, naive mistakes, small children plucking tender never know what might foil your well-intended plans. So it is with great anticipation that we look towards not only learning a great deal from Don and Joni, but also towards the camaraderie of sharing in the ups and downs of the growth process.

February and March bring most of the season's snow and remnants of the bitter cold in these parts, but now is also the time that our great "garden pile" of papers and seed catalogs and notes start to take over the counter tops. I organized the big box of seed packets a couple of weeks ago, fondly straightening out the creases in the envelopes containing some of my favorite varieties: roma tomatoes, snow peas, genovese basil, beets, butternut squash. Last year, I grew bell peppers and learned to absolutely love these sweet treats that I could hardly tolerate eating in the past. This year, I will help tend the collard greens with all good intentions of finding recipes that will win me over to the benefits of this superfood.

This spring, Ellis and Owain will once again follow the process alongside us; from starting seeds indoors ("Please keep your fingers out of the peat pots - be GENTLE."), and taking the sprouts outside for a bit of sunshine each day ("Thank you for carrying those containers, but please don't pick the plants, guys."), to gingerly setting the plants into their new homes in the garden ("What great helpers you are! Keep your feet on the path and off the plants please!"). Our little seeds, learning.

I'm just a bigger seed, trying to teach our little seeds what little I know about growing. At the risk of sounding corny, the miracle is amazing. I put the seed in soil, give it some water and sunlight, do my best to see that it doesn't get stomped on, and voila, vegetables! It's no wonder Ellis is a little dumbfounded when I try to explain it to him - I am dumbfounded too. It's no coincidence that this miracle is exceedingly real to me now - as my body grows this baby with very little (conscious) effort on my part. I just have to maintain enough patience and adaptability to let nature take its incredible course. Seeds of learning. And with any luck, come June, I will be looking into the face of this new baby while sitting among baby lettuces and delicate sweet peas, the fruits of my labor.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Indulgent Mother Moment Alert

Owain wanted me to take a snap of his letter writing - he did these all by himself (with a little prompting in the spelling department.) By the way, I can't identify the little amoeba-like thingy to the left of his name.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Dance Revolution

Ellis and Owain get out their pre-bedtime squirrelies with a little waltz and breakdancing.
Blogger warning: I don't know how to edit video, and this 45 seconds is probably most interesting to grandparents and people who love watching small children dance around in circles.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

"My peace is worth a thousand times more than anything I own"

Tiny fingers, chubby toes, dimpled elbows, sweet cheeks...where has my baby Ellis gone? I've been reflecting on motherhood a lot lately, with memories of his infancy coming into clearer focus. Given my usual inability to remember details all that well, I'm prone to think that my mama hormones are resurfacing those cherished images, moments and experiences. I'm nearly 22 weeks pregnant -- and while mid-June seems eons away (the impossibly green landscape, long days, warm breezes), it also seems closer than ever as we prepare to welcome another child to the fold. Another person, personality, voice, spirit, opinion, life.

Thinking of going about our farm-life with a wee baby slung to my chest as soon as this summer is exhilarating and daunting. While I have the experience of being a mama under my belt, I don't know what it is to have two babes, which brings the same excited nervousness as I experienced the first time around. For me, what I don't know keeps me sane - I'd much rather react to a surprise than worry in anticipation. I mean, for goodness sakes, when I was 8 months pregnant with Ellis we PLANNED the move from our house to the farm a mere 10 days after he was born! (Special thanks to Dan and Robin and many other angels who actually did the moving part of the move.) If I knew then what I know now, my life would be dreadfully dull. I'm not a risk-taker by choice, but throw me to the wolves and darn it if I can't try to scramble my way back out. I think this is why parenthood is so rewarding - we are given 9 months to plan and prepare but there really is nothing that can prepare you for the euphoric joy and surprise of daily life with a child, the survival-like mode of motherhood is a deep blessing, pulling me from the depths of exhaustion and self-doubt with one "I love you, mama."

Now, I am looking at Ellis and Owain through the lens of newborn world, and these boys suddenly look so grown up. Ellis's very thoughtful and creative observations ("what happens when a tow truck gets stuck in the snow on a hill, mama?...pause, pause, pause...maybe a snowplow could push it up the hill!") and Owain's sweet social butterfly demeanor (complete with forgivably inappropriate and random comments) -- our babies are now boys. And they will be amazing, creative, and mischevious, if not trying, big brothers. (Has anyone else read "Harris and Me" by Gary Paulsen? Read it and you will understand where my greatest joys meet my greatest fears as these two boys grow up together on our farm. Also read it because it is simply a wonderful story that ought to be added to everyone's library.)

So I proceed to fill up my summer months with goals, plans & commitments, right alongside our parallel plans of becoming parents once again. Life will not slow down for this family community of ours. So, welcome opportunity, welcome growth, welcome new life.

A Brief Ode to my Mukluks

Elk hide and canvas,
work of art,
you warm my toes
you warm my heart.