Wednesday, March 5, 2014
I'm feeling ambivalent, wary even, of Spring's coming. It's not from a desire for Winter to stay longer than it already will, but because of what will come after. At this point I have a nagging feeling we're already behind on starting some of our seeds (though I continue to "forget" to do the figuring to see if that's actually true), and there is a whole flood of activity waiting for the first crack in the dam. I'm not sure how I will fit it all in. And I am afraid that I simply won't, again.
I suppose it's true that each year we make a little more headway, inching forward. But I don't know. Sometimes I wonder how much all our grand, noble, simple ideas are worth, when we can't seem to bring them into reality at greater than a snail's pace. Or that of the slugs that consumed much of our garden last year. Or is this simply the pace of learning to homestead with kids and the need to earn income outside of the home?
In the winter there is the excuse of the dormancy all around us; this season more cold and snow than we've had in years. I get lulled into the belief that this coming year will be different, and I believe in great things for the ways this homestead - or maybe more so our way of living (though the two are intertwined, of course) - will grow. This year, this late winter time, with Spring maybe a month away, I'm not sure.
I've been thinking about the dichotomies I find in myself that frustrate me and leave me feeling antsy and unsettled. How I have a deep desire to be settled into the life of a place - to be at home - and then also the itch to go traveling, to pack up the car and head out to explore - to see new places and familiar ones, hear music, learn new skills, spend time around a campfire away from all the responsibilities of home. How I crave the separation of having some land and even more space around us, down a drowsy road near a small town, to retreat to and tend - and then also how appealing, and how much more manageable it sounds to have a small yard, in a small town, and to work to convert every bit of space into productivity, and then walk to the library for a break.
These things don't mesh. And I wonder how to go about quieting all the possibilities in order to feel a little less scattered, and more gathered together in one place, where that happens to be at this point in time. Like everything, it's a mix of things, big and little, objective and subjective. But I think it also has something to do with my perfectionism, this antsy-ness, and with the need to have all the right answers and make all the right choices. To be a "real" (and a real good) homesteader: authentic, not just a wannabe. To be in the ideal place, rather than this real place with its compromises, challenges and imperfections. In other words, to have everything in line; which is, of course, a fantasy.
But in the Winter I get the luxury of being dreamy and idealistic about it all, both in imagining the fantasy, and in psyching myself up for all the changes for the better and all the things I am going to (actually) do this year. With the Spring again comes the urging to commit to this place. To put down roots again, to commit to tending them. Again comes the testing of all my intentions and the ideas that I think I believe in: the time to put real stock into them. Or not. Right now that's an intimidating prospect.
So, if I could, I would pause time, for a while, and stay safely here in this wearing-thin shelter of Winter. I would linger a bit longer, hoping for a shot of Spring courage and motivation to get me up and moving, imperfections, uncertainties and all. And then maybe, when the snow begins to melt this weekend, I'll even go searching for the first of the snowdrops down by the creek; or perhaps even take a peek at the planting guide.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
It took a while for the birds to find it, and then after a flurry of activity, they all seemed to disappear for days, and I worried. But - then they came back and have been coming consistently now. The feeders are outside the kitchen window, which is right above the sink, and so washing the dishes has become much more enjoyable, as I get to watch the show.
We've had a pretty good list of different birds stop by, the most frequent being goldfinches, sparrows (American Tree and Song), juncos, downys, and most recently, hairy woodpeckers, too. This is one of those simple things that makes me inordinately happy: to see all the little fluffed up birds hopping and flitting about, and to know who they are, even those who look in someways nearly identical.
The feed disappears fast, and so today I mixed up a new batch of the peanut butter mix we use in the log feeder the boys made with Jim (I got it from Rhythm of Family - there are instructions for how to make a log feeder there, too.). It was a surprisingly warm day, and a lot of the snow was melted by the afternoon - a nice chance to fill everything up before more snow comes tonight, and cold close behind. I am getting weary of the cold and snow, I think. Or am beginning to. It's nice to have those birds to brighten up the days as they go about their business, unaware as they are of the enjoyment they bring.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
While I was sick last week, the boys were mostly left to themselves apart from meals, and a bit of reading together. As I moved slowly about taking care of the essentials, and sat resting and dozing in the rocker, I listened to them playing, and I was struck by what I heard. It wasn't anything earth-shaking, or even out of the ordinary - just that I was more still than usual, and they were given more wide-open blocks of time in which to do what they pleased.
I've been moving more toward an unstructured kind of approach to our homeschooling: something less like sitting down for a certain amount of time to "do school", and more like learning just being what we do, all throughout our days and fueled by what captures our interests. It's all in process, figuring this out - and I keep going back and forth in my thinking about how much or how little structure I and they need and would benefit from. I often find myself second-guessing this approach - thinking that others, looking in on our days, would disapprove. Not to mention that this is all entirely antithetical to my days of public school education, and even to the time we spent very happily at the school the boys attended for a few years. New ground.
At any rate, as I listened through the week, and thought about it, I realized how much they truly are actively involved and learning, exploring, growing, even (and maybe especially) when they are just left to themselves.
Even though I was sick and not able to do much for them, and abandoned all plans for activities I had come up with, they just kept right on creating and exploring and finding what they needed themselves. They spent lots of time outside being active and exploring the newly running creek as the snow began to melt. They decided to make a sign for their "pizza truck" and instead of asking me how to spell it, remembered a story in a magazine with the word "pizza" in it, found the magazine and story, and made their sign. They had a blast thoroughly deconstructing the baby monitor that finally had enough and would only beep unendingly. They made fishing poles, a pond and fish.
Little things. But I think the little things, put together, are what I will have to go on in figuring this homeschooling thing out, and it's little things like these that encourage me to think that despite the worries and the feeling as though it's all I can do to catch (and keep) up, maybe they're (we're) actually doing just fine.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
D has been keeping a secret for a couple months now, that has been bursting at his seams. He was waiting until his birthday, then he came down the stairs with a small package behind his back, wrapped and labeled by him, with that wonderful "I have a secret" smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. He had made each of the three of us a little cut paper picture, each with its own design - mine is dew drops and a twig. It was one of those truly precious moments that make your heart feel like bursting.
G received a handsaw to add to his tool collection, and immediately pulled Jim outside to do a project with it (stilts), and then happily sawed away at random pieces of board. I stopped by at one point, and was treated to the way he so earnestly explains himself when he is so deeply excited and proud of what he is doing and thinking and figuring out. It makes me happy.
Typing this, I just realized that these two moments - D with his secret, and G with his saw - they are both moments where the pureness of them, of each of these not-so-little-anymore boys just shone through, and that is why they are the moments of the weekend that I want to stay in my heart and mind, filed away, to remind me of the privilege it is to watch them grow.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
I dozed in the sun today,
its rays filtering
through the unwashed windows and the dust
out of nowhere;
its heat soaking in
through blanket, shawl, clothes,
skin; tracing its movements westward
and down in an arc
through the panes and the insides of
my weary eyes.
my weary eyes.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Today it began to seem as though Spring might come. The cold spell broke, and the sky was that perfect blue and the sun felt warm. As I was washing dishes I saw some flashes of white through the window and looked out to see a small flock of seagulls flying above the field across the street, heading southwest. Where they might be going, I have no idea. There was a time a few weeks ago when I thought I saw seagulls flying, but couldn't be sure - I suppose they must have been. A mystery.
As we pulled in this afternoon, we startled a bird sitting on the driveway, who flew up and onto the roof of our shed: a bluebird! And then another joined it, and another, all sitting in a nice little row. We don't see many bluebirds in our yard - we've seen them across the street on our walks, but not so much here. They stayed for quite a while, sunning themselves on the roof, perching on a fence post all fluffed up like little balls, flying up to a wire. A robin joined in, and up in the trees I spotted a woodpecker (from what I could see, a red-bellied), and I think (or maybe it was just wishful thinking, as I've been hoping for one to visit our feeders), a nuthatch. It made me feel a little lighter, seeing all these different birds fluttering and hopping and swooping here and there among the bare tangle of branches.
My two feet are still here in Winter, but my toes are beginning to inch over the line. Slowly, but surely.
Monday, February 10, 2014
I'm feeling the need to clear out this house - maybe it's this midwinter time. Last year I made up a few beginning quiltmaking kits, intended for kids just learning how to sew, for my Etsy shop, and they just never sold. So, I decided that rather than hanging on to them, such that they are just sitting on my shelf, I'd like to give them away, if anyone's interested, so that they can be enjoyed as intended. They come in a fabric pouch with a pattern, all the fabric and batting you'll need, a little needle book and thread. If you're interested, just leave a comment by Thursday and I'll pick two folks at random Friday morning.
** Thanks for your interest! I wish I had kits to send everyone! **
But, my two helpers chose the following names this morning to receive the two kits I do have:
Plain and Joyful Living
(please be in touch so I can get your mailing address!)