Rainbow weather

One year ago I sat in this very room, soft loose puppy skin of a newborn baby curled up on my tired belly.  Boys scrambling up, kissing, nuzzling, sometimes trying to squeeze the very love out of that sweet new human, then being shooed out, quietly, gently, quickly.  Seeing my bigger boys fall in love with this small baby has been nothing if not enchanting.  Seeing them speak softly, coax smiles, and hold close this little bundle, has been the most graceful point in nearly every day that has passed this last year.  Though resistance has been deeply felt amongst the middle-est at times, and the firstly born one has had to come up with his own coping ways to keep the spotlight, this third boy has only brought us more together, given us more pause, settled us even deeper into our place as a family.

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The very night before Miles was born, Lee and I cozied up to some live, outdoor music.  I found a slump in the ground, just right for heaving my giant belly into, feeling content and full of hope, lying there on my side with nothing on my mind but the lyrics pooling into my ears.  Since then, we have taken the boys to a handful of shows, there little ears surprised at the loud.  Exhausted before the night really had begun.  Maybe not ready for it all.

Until last night.  We still didn’t make it until, “one. more. song!”, but the night went on and on with only grins, and experiences so deep and real, when I held them close to the front of the stage, you could hear the memories being etched into their little minds, even over the thumping of the amplifiers directly in front of us.  My sweet Rowan in particular was drawn to the front, in a sort of dazed eye-must go, moth to the light kind of way.  He wanted me to hold him close, his still dimpled and chubby hand clamped around my shoulder, while he glued his eyes to the drummer only removing them to click them on over to the upright base or the steel guitar.  Every few minutes he would unhinge his elbows and let out a forceful closed eye, tight-lipped,  air drumming solo.  His enthusiasm was palpable.  When I had asked Miles earlier in the day if he would dance with me while we watched the music, he responded as only this sweet boy would, “I only dance when my legs just feel like it.”  I guess they did, because he cut a rug until the sun was well tucked in behind these green rolling hills.

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I always pictured myself watching music with my family.  I thought to myself as I held two heavy boys on each hip, and one holding onto my perfectly planned twirly dancing skirt, “You have arrived”.

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The energy of all those people, arms up high, paying no mind to the sprinkles of rain; “Rainbow weather” the lead singer of Old Crow Medicine Show described through the microphone for an agreeing crowds ears to nod to.  It was fitting that last night, with a year behind us as a family of five, I finally felt the togetherness I have craved so hard since the heat of last summer.

(PS the drummer of OCMS “liked” this last pic on instagram… yeah we are practically besties now)

garden update and kitchen makeover

I had almost given up hope entirely on my garden within the gate.  And then our incredibly energetic, hard working, sweet friends came and weeded it all and plunked the enthusiasm right back in me, all in one fell swoop.  Yup.  They are amazing friends to have.  I know.

Now that the veggies aren’t being choked to death by thistle and horsetail and crab grass I can see, this garden is doing spectacularly!  While, last years may have been a bit more.. maintained..  I am feeling dandy and fine about this years too.  We are currently eating lots and lots of chard and kale and peas to our hearts content.  I pulled up all the turnips and beets a few days ago and replaced them with a new set of beets and another go at radishes.  Hopefully those root maggots are kept at bay by the wood ash I spread around them.  I think I will harvest garlic next week which is beyond exciting to me.  Drying fifty beautiful heads of garlic will be very, very, satisfying.  Lima beans, pole beans, edamame and bush beans are all on there way to the pot.  We ate our first meal of well earned fava beans last week and let me tell you- They are worth the work.  Buttery silky deliciousness. I had heard that in Italy they have a festival each year when the fava beans are ready, which of course inspired me to try the same.  We may not have had a festival, but we did have a feast.  Our plates were full of our very own chicken, topped with a menagerie of deliciously green veggies and neighbor made and grown cheese.  Yes mamm.

The flowers are killing me with their wild beauty.  I don’t even care that they are so unmanageably out of hand.  They are gorgeous.  Like colorful stars across the sky.  The cut flowers are slowly being swallowed by grass in the front pasture, and I feel fine about that.  I can still split the green stalks and snip a bouquet for company.  And that feels good enough.  The sunflowers are well on their way to being state fair winners and the corn is chest high already!  Yes!  Summer!  You are so very fine!

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And now whenever I haul those veggies in, I get to serve them up in what feels like a brand new kitchen!  I spent a couple of late nights this week drinking beer and sloshing paint around.  What do you think??  (I still need to go in with a skinny brush and paint in between the slats, but a perfectionist I am not, and will get to it when I do.

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I am in love with it!  It is the perfect shade I was looking for.  Of course, I shop for wine, nail polish and wall paint in precisely the same manner.  By the name.  And with moonbeam and incense on the lid, how could I go wrong!  (HA!)

spruce mountain banana bread

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This boy.  This boy is giving me a run for my money.  I mean something fierce.  Something gurgles up inside him so deep and mad and unpredictable it scares me.  And when he manages to get every last ounce of it out into the world, pouring it thick like syrup onto every surface he run his hands over he melts like butter.  He drapes himself over me, or the couch, or the earth and I can almost see the relief fill his body.  I know the confusion over a new brother never really settled in.  I know the smashing of brothers in front and behind him make this journey a particularly difficult one for him.  I know this age, this age, this age.  He will come out of it on the other side.  We all will.  Because we have to.

But there is one place where his fury settles, and his fists unfurl for a length of time.  In the forest.  In the forest it seems, after the initial settling period, his little thick palm tucked into mine, he is so focused on the one foot in front of the other task at hand, his spikes in emotional temperature stay relatively even.  So you know what? We hiked for 5.5 hours yesterday. 5.5 hours through thick brushy woods. Through mossy fairy kingdoms, and caves and bogs and streams.  Up the entire length of mountain. Our feet were caked with mud. Our legs were weak as babies. Our hearts were completely, and perfectly settled.  Still as morning water.

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There is always an option with these little ones.  An avenue I haven’t tried.  It seems the wear them out through and through method is the most enjoyable for the lot of us these days.  And I am all right with that.  Of course, what links up arms with maximum physical exertion is keeping little growing bellies very, very, full.  That too is something I am ok with.  If it looks anything like yesterdays first pit stop up the side of Spruce Mountain, count me in.  Warm zucchini banana bread straight out of the pan eaten atop a rock beside the sweetest little fluffy blondes you ever knew is possibly the best place in the world to enjoy such a treat.  Even a hermit thrush was singing.

I was given this recipe from my mentor teacher during my student teaching at THIS wonderful school.  How spoiled are they in Flagstaff AZ?  A CHARTERED Waldorf school right at their fingertips?  Bah.  I am so impossibly grateful for my time spent there, learning the ways of these calm, methodical, beautiful teachers and staff.  And of course, of course, for this recipe.

April’s Banana Bread

1/2 cup oil

1 cup sugar

2 eggs beaten

1/2 tsp. vanilla

3 tbls. milk

3+ ripe bananas

2 cups flour

1 tsp. soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup nuts (optional, use pecans)

3/4 cup of shredded zucchini

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix oil, and sugar and add other wet ingredients.  Slowly pour in the premixed dry.  Pour into greased loaf pan and bake for an hour.  Serve with lots of butter under the canopy of the forest, on the green, green grass.

Samp. It’s a thing you need to know about. 

Zucchini is one of those things that in between blinks will go from pinky sized to baseball bat length. I categorized it among the sun lovers this spring and placed in our lower pasture under black plastic, snug over chocolate cake soil. And though my decision making skills are typically wobbly and shaky, this one was firm. Already I have picked more zucchini and summer squash in a week, than I did all year last year when I tried it nearer to our house. I can finally relate to the gardeners plight of, “what to do with all this squash!?”.  So far I haven’t struggled, but I know, I know, the season has only begun! (Yes, I realize finding ways to serve up the dark green cylinder is slightly dramatized… But it is a thing.)

With this recipe, I was hoping to combine my two favorite summer meals: corn chowder and zucchini pancakes. Turns out, it’s all in the samp.

Samped up zucchini pancakes

Makes about 14 pancakes. Serves 4-5 as a side. 3-4 as a main dish. 

(All ingredients are approximations and will have to be played with to get the right consistency)

4 middle sizes zucchini grated

5 early, small carrots grated

1/4 head of fresh garlic crushed or two cloves of dried garlic crushed

1/3 cup of crumbled salty cheese such as feta

2 ears of corn

2 eggs

2 fistfuls of all purpose flour

Olive oil for sautéing

1. Place grated carrots and zucchini in a colander and dust with a teaspoon of salt. Let drain for an hour.

2. Cut corn of the cob then grate each cob on a fine grater to get all the juices; the samp. Put all the veggies from the colander into a towel and squeeze all the excess water into the sink. Add to corn and samp. Mix in garlic and crumbled cheese.

3. Crack eggs in and stir in flour. You should be able to form a golf ball sized amount easily. If not, add more flour or egg accordingly. 

4. Heat up oil on medium high and put golf ball sized chunks flattened into thick pancakes onto the hot pan cooking until golden crispy on each side. About 3 minutes. Finish them all of for ten minutes in a 300F degree oven. 

I like to serve these with a garlicky- dilly yogurt sauce but they are good on their own too. I plan on bringing them as a picnic item  along with this  (http://food52.com/recipes/24925-chard-salad-with-garlic-breadcrumbs-and-parmesan) crazy good salad tonight to feast and field (http://fablefarm.org).  It should be a wicked good time. 

Enjoy! 

    
 
    
 

a full freezer and a full house

My chest feels empty of breath.  I just exhaled so deep and long i could hear the branches bending.  Seven days of wonderfully sweet visitors bookending a full day of chicken slaughtering has passed.  Our house has been filled with such sincere kindness and laughter, just thinking about it brings a smile back to my cheeks.  And though my cupboards are bare, and my laundry pile has been more neglected than even usual, I can’t stop grinning. My boys are settled into a quieter pace today, and memories of what they are REALLY like are spilling back into my eyes.  The wildness that comes so swiftly with the pack mentality is already fading and for that I am so very glad.  I love the chaos, I truly do.  And then I love the peace that follows it just as much.

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This picture is so sweet it is almost too painful for me to look at.  I can say that with certainty that all that are reading understand I love my boys AND I hold a place in my heart for those sweet little girl antics.  Though the specific little ladies visiting this past week had a wild streak that matched my boys, and I find that even more endearing!!

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Our freezers are as full as our hearts today.  

And now off to cook some of that fine chicken we worked so hard to have!