the crunch

Almost every leaf has given up the fight and is settled on the ground cozied up for the winter, ready for the big transformation.  The floor is a river of crunchy, slippery, foliage.  Paths that were once coated so thick in brush are now freed up for walking and exploring.  Moss that camouflaged its magnificence against the massiveness of summer is now shining in it’s glory.  Little trumpets of lichen, puddles of moss in star shapes, expanding disks, and the tiniest trees you every saw.  Gnomes land.  Fairy villages.  A rootless reminder that the green of the earth still remains, it just may hide for a bit.

 

 

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Autumn brings us in, yes, but mostly it sets me on a wild rampage chanting, “must go out!”.  The time is short before our breath is a fog and I intend on taking advantage of this slice of time before it’s too late.  This year I do have grand plans for tiny snow shoes, and short little skis, but I am not sure what that will look like with a little one strapped on and a few wobbly, rubber legs by my side.  But plans are plans are plans… and I like to make them.

After  a week straight of sweet, loving visitors, and more excitement than a three and five year old can probably contain, they are playing so nice together.  It is truly a sight to behold.  I have put out less fires than I have started lately,  (oh, wood stove humor…)  and it feels like it should feel.  It’s something about getting your cheeks pink with cold air and sitting by a crackling fire with a mug of something warm and a pile of books that just makes you get along.  Please remind me I said this in February, and I will come back here and make strike through-s in all my sentences.

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When things are so loud in this house of boys and the rain is coming down, or little balls of hail wont seem to let up, or the new chill in the air is willing us to stay in our pajamas, a little voice reminds me there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes and we slide on our rain pants or mittens or mud boots and head out anyways.

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reinforcements

I sent out  a may day text alert a few weeks ago pleading with my ladies from near and far to come and visit while my man-friend went on a long, long business trip.  15 days he would be gone… (4 down!  11 to go!) and I figured it would be best spent with some company scattered in here and there.  First up on the docket was my girl Jesse!  I am so lucky to have this sweet girl in my life.  And her little boy?  He knocks you down with his cuteness.

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I am not going to try to pretend this is easy without Lee.  It isn’t.  It is so loud, and so messy, and so hectic.  I need that reprieve at the end of the day, and tagged onto the beginning and end of each week to recharge.  But I promised myself I would take this trip in stride, one day at a time, and I would find peace in every day.  Even if it was only the briefest moment.  And I can tell you, meeting up with good friends to pick some apples, or staying up late with a buddy knitting, or receiving a hand delivered package of beer from a neighbor fills my cup so high I swear its spilling over.  In these four short days alone, there have already been tears (from all four of us) and tantrums (I won’t name names), but also a whole lot of laughs and sweet kisses.  These babies… they push you to the edge of the world they do.  And then when you are teetering on one toe at the top of the cliff looking down, they paint a picture titled, “Mama with wings” and then tear your chest open and kiss your heart.

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Parenting is a whirlwind of emotions, I really never knew before.  It is a whole lot of give, and rarely ever take.  It is mop the floor then smear it with honey.  It is wake you up in the middle of the night just to say I love you.  It is fold all the laundry than use it as a trampoline.  It is to have nothing of value, but at the same time care for the most valuable thing you can imagine.

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We had our first frost over the weekend.  And now my evenings are being spent perfecting the art of the wood stove fire, spinning on a borrowed wheel and drinking hand delivered beer with the music turned up loud.  For now, this reprieve will do.  In fact, I welcome it.  

 

 

and in the end

Leaves are piling thick around our ankles and tires.  The trees are turning to sticks; Bare sticks that indicate the long winter that is to come, but also that let a light fall to the ground that reminds me that the sun will not leave us all together.   The days are shortening so rapidly it’s hard to keep up.  We had to mend our chicken coop by the light of a headlight last night, and rose again this morning before the day officially started.  It is dark, yes, but that just makes the sun even that much more glorious.  She is dramatic in these in between times, she is.  We take note.

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We covered most of the vegetable garden with winter rye seeds.  I am not sure if it’s too late for them to germinate, but we will see.  I harvested all the things except the Jerusalem artichokes and the butternut squash, which just wont seem to turn tan, maybe this extra sun on their tough skin will do the trick.  I have a few more rows of garlic to set in place, and I still plan on setting a make shift cold frame over my spinach and lettuce.  Bulbs have been tucked in for the winter, hundreds of them in fact, and the slicing down of perennials and clearing away is in full force.

IMG_3987 Our seasons first fire is crackling this morning.  It isn’t terribly cold, but cold enough, and we have the wood, so we did.  Now the dreaming for next year can officially begin.  I so looked forward to this first year.  This time of mine to have a beautiful spot of earth to grow something of my very own, and it was nothing short of what I expected.  It was marvelous.  I just made a typo and wrote “I was marvelous.”  Of course I changed it back, but come to think of it, I think that it is true too.  We don’t toot our own horns quite enough, in my opinion.  I worked hard, I loved those little plants, so yeah… I was marvelous too.  

 

a wreath is a reminder

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In all reality this has been my first real vegetable garden.  I have had little corners of tiny apartments with a tomato plant or two, a window full of herbs, and even a chunk of a community garden, but nothing like this freedom.  Nothing like the surprise, excitement, and true admiration of having the chance to grow my very own food.  The season is closing in now, with only one week left of our neighbors CSA, (I believe I will shed real actual tears on the last pick up), and only a few things left to tend within the walls of my very, very loved vegetable garden.  Butternut squash are turning tan, the pumpkins that havent been stabbed by a few certain little boys are perfectly orange, and the kuri squash is scattered with such a bright autumn color it hardly feels like it could come from nature.  I am contemplating a cold frame over my lettuce and spinach as they are almost eating size and I’d love to stretch it out a bit if I can.  The Jerusalem Artichokes are full with buds, just days away from blooming and then harvesting.  And in the cutting bed, my straw flowers, Calendula, Amaranthus, cockscomb, and globe Amaranthus are all still popping up daily giving me lots to bring in and dry.

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But, the truth is on the 24th of July until now I have essentially let the garden go wild.  I have harvested what I could, I have hollered to the boys to eat whatever they felt like, “Fill your bellies! Satisfy your curiosity of what grows beneath the ground!” I chanted.  I canned nothing, and froze little.  But at the same time nothing was wasted.  Lots of greens were consumed but lots and lots of (unwanted) greens grew amongst my once carefully tended seedlings.

Jasper is now two months old and with a tiny (ever so tiny) touch of sleep each night, I feel a surge of creativity once again.  It is a scratch that I truly can’t itch at the moment, but it seems in between moments of crazy chaos I am finding just the smallest amounts of time to make and feeling pretty good about it.   Of all the drying herbs and flowers strung around my kitchen and halls the most represented scent has been the tiny sachets of sage.  They were gathered a bundle at a time starting this spring, leading up to just yesterday too.  And with a recent gift of the most gorgeous lavender from a lovely, dear friend I found a place to satisfy my restless hands.

This little wreath took less than 30 minutes to finish.  It was simple and free and a reminder to me that the time will come again.  The time where all three of my boys are out playing king of the world atop of the woodpile, where all three can wiggle their toes into their own shoes and fit their spindly arms into wool sweaters without trouble, and I do indeed have time to put up that food, or knit that sweater, or clean that floor.  But for now, this wreath will do.

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I think I have been accomplishing the balance I sought out to achieve when welcoming this third little soul into our lives.  I hoped for the power to be still and to be okay with it.  Each time I am bound to my chair with a nursling on my lap and more often than not, a little boy or two by my side, my eyes mechanically, instinctually search everywhere in my periphery taking mental note of all that “needs” to be done.  When I am so lucky to catch myself in the act, I try to slow my breathing, I try to think of nothing but the touch of these three sweet things I have right now.  Right at this very moment.  I clear the thoughts out like dust under a rug and I let go.

 

 

woodpiles and baby slings

If it were not for these two things I would get very little done.  Woodpiles to keep the bigger boys busy, (How can one come up with so many scenarios for a log of wood? Apparently quite easily if you are a little boy.) and slings to keep this sweet baby close.  If you have a little one around, chances are you do the same.  After three boys I seem to have stockpiled a number of options.  Ring sling, wraps, a woven mei tai, and an ergo.  A sling to suit all occasions.

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