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Archive for the ‘seasons’ Category

Lammas

My camera is broken so my only hope for remembering the magic of today is to write some of it down. It’s Lammas, and the full moon. After planting a seed to gather at the river with ladies under the moon, I retreated into a different vision. Equally called to honor the day, I decided instead to focus on making an activity filled harvest celebration for my little ones. My ideas came from Circle Round and Celebrating the Great Mother (two beautiful books by five magical women.) Last night I read the chapters in both books on Lammas (Lughnasa) and filled a notebook page with ideas. I knew there were too many to do, but I wanted to do as many as was reasonable.

Baking bread with yeast is often a big part of honoring the mother earth and the beginning of the harvest. Cooking yeast bread with children, I learned, is a magic-filled ritual all by itself. Sam is in homesteading camp this week but I decided to keep him home today so we could spend the whole day together. Unfortunately I didn’t plan ahead well enough to have everything I needed on hand, so we had to go grocery shopping first thing after breakfast. Next time I’d plan ahead better and not waste that energy and time on shopping during a ritual day. It would be more fun to wake up with the ideas and materials ready so the entire day could be spent bringing them to life.

When we got back from the store I realized I had forgotten to buy the most critical ingredient: yeast. The recipe called for two packets and I found three in the fridge. Two were open and half-used and all three expired over a year ago. “Are you still alive little yeasties?” I wondered. It was tense for a while, wondering if our bread would rise. Sam mixed the yeast with warm milk, honey and brown sugar. Soon, it was frothy and full of bubbles so we knew the little guys were doing their thing. “Bubbles!” Sierra said as she peered into the bowl about an hour after mixing.

Sam helped me with the first mixing, but later he was occupied and Sierra helped mix in the flour. Both kids came in to knead the dough and add flour. I set them up with chairs on the glass-top stove, each with their own lump of dough. It started out pretty sticky but I put a half-cup filled with flour between them and pretty soon they had turned sticky dough into a silky storm of white powder. I added flour and kneaded the largest piece of dough in the bowl while I watched the kids enjoy sensory bliss with free access to both sticky dough and fluffy ground wheat. I oiled the bowl, put all three blobs inside and covered it with a cloth napkin. Then hands had to be washed, clothes changed, and kids shooed off to play while I cleaned up the flour snowstorm In the kitchen.

There was enough counter-and-kid-hand-contaminated flour to half fill a measuring cup. Later, when Sierra was sleeping and Sam and I headed out to harvest from the garden for the altar, we figured out what to use it for. An idea from my reading was to offer a little cornmeal to the plant spirits for each fruit, flower or seed harvested. He took to the idea and put the flour filled measuring cup in a basket so he could follow me and sprinkle as I cut. The most beautiful and interesting thing to go into our basket was the giant purple artichoke flowers. It’s glowing purple petals were iridescent and interesting to touch.

At Sam’s urging, I got in the kiddie pool with him on the deck while Sierra was still sleeping. I figured he was being a good sport about trying all my ideas for the day, I should do what he wanted for a while too. Water is always fun, but I’m kinda big to do much in that pool. The kids however, were in and out of the pool all day, always laughing and splashing as if water was the greatest thing on earth. Which, perhaps, it is.

Before putting the bread loafs in the oven we painted them with egg and sprinkled them with sesame seeds and oatmeal. This step was fun for Sam and nearly euphoric for Sierra. She was so excited she dumped the entire jar of sesame seeds into her hand, and ended up with the thickest seed layer I’ve ever seen on a loaf. I thought it might burn or something, but all the loafs came out great. The smell was amazing as they baked in the oven.

When Ben came home we barbequed green beans from the garden, corn, tofu, tempe, tri-tip, mushrooms and onions. And bread was delicious. It’s possible Sam ate his whole loaf and nothing else. After dinner I had imaged we’d do a simple ritual, but I was running low on energy and still eager to make a harvest doll from the afternoon’s gatherings with Sam. I started with corn husks for the body, added oregano for the arms, lemon balm and grape leaves for the skirt, accented with with white yarrow flowers. For the hair I stick variegated thyme into the corn husk head. Then stick in two dried cherries (still with stems) as eyes. I showed Sierra and she said, “Pretty doll!” and then gave it several hugs and kisses. A cherry eye fell off almost immediately, but the remaining stem made a smaller and even better eye.

The sun was setting and although I could have sat and woven dolls until the last photons had disappeared, I sensed it was time to head in. For a few moments we lingered on the deck and I watched Sierra play with the doll. As she made happy noises and clapped its oregano hands, for an instant it seemed magic had brought the figure to life.

Today gave me hope that I can build family traditions that engage the whole family and honor the earth mother and the ever-changing seasons. I would love to do a small family ritual at the end of a day like today, and perhaps next time I can plan ahead enough to make it happen. But even without a formal candle-lighting ceremony today was filled with ritual and connection to the earth.

Also, someday, I want to have a day like today and invite friends and family to join us. But for now, making a special day with just the kids and Ben was enough. When my friends are here I want to talk and listen to them, and hence spend less time focused on the kids. It felt right to make this day for the kids. And perhaps it was good that I couldn’t take a picture, because it kept me present with them in the moment. Next time though, I want to keep Ben home so he can be with us the whole day.

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welcome fall!

I promised myself if I ever got a good night’s sleep, I would write.  Well, it happened.  Did my beautiful little almost-one-year-old finally settle in for a full night’s slumber, you may ask?  Hahahaha!  Um, no.  But I decided it was time to close the all night diner.  To reassure myself that my baby girl would not starve or suffer horribly by a night without boobies I wrote down every time she ate food or drunk milk the day before.  She eats pretty much every hour from waking to bedtime, it turns out, with the exception that day of one two-hour nap.  So I think she will not starve.

I’m too much a softy to let her cry it out, and too much a flake to follow through with all the consistent patient steps (and routines) needed for the Elizabeth Pantley way.  So, I came up with my own plan.  It can be summed up simply as: Run away! Hide! Sleep!  I set up our little backpacking tent in the backyard and the past two nights Sam and I have snugged up in there while Papa and Sierra have had nighttime “father daughter bonding time.”  They are both taking it pretty well, considering.   Maybe tonight they will even get some sleep!?

Regardless of success or failure with our current Sierra Sleep scheme, I am relishing these precious nighttime off-duty hours.  And savoring the much needed Mama-Sam time.  He loves sleeping in the tent with me.  I love that we chat about silly things while lying there together until the conversation pauses and we (or just he) drifts off to sleep.  Sleeping in the tent on the equinox turned out to be a powerful way to honor the shift into the dark time.  Last night the clouds blew in and I enjoyed having only a piece of (waterproof) fabric between me and the first autumn rain.

Our Mabon ritual this year did not include candles or songs, but I did feel the roots of some family traditions beginning to take hold.   A giant douglas fir tree to the south of us shades the garden once the sun drops below a certain angle, and I have learned that tomatoes don’t much ripen past the equinox.   This year Sam and I gathered every last tomato, from big red to tiny green, into the harvest basket.  Then I cut down the plants and pulled up the root balls.  Sam was a great help beating the dirt out of the roots before putting the plants into the compost pile.  Then we weeded and smoothed the beds, ready to plant the winter cover crop.  With Sierra snoozed, Papa at work, the computer off, and my phone in the house- we were able to stay present with each other and the task at hand.  It’s amazing how many teachable moments occur while gardening with a four-year-old.

Later that day he was sitting on the pot and I was clipping my nails and he asks, “Mom, why do Papa and Sam have penises and Mama and Sierra have yonis?”  It took me a moment to get my bearings, but then it lead to a discussion about procreation, the differences between children and adults, men and women, and babies.  After I had done my best to answer he got very thoughtful for a moment then said, “When I grow up I’m going to be a science teacher, and I’m going to have a baby.”  He said it with so little doubt that I’m almost inclined to believe him!

That same day, Sierra did her first without-a-doubt sign.  More!  Ah, our favorite sign.  She did it so proudly.  Got herself a whole extra handful of olives at dinner, I was so tickled by it.  She gives me so much joy, that smiley little daughter of mine.  So cuddly.  So determined.  So ready to be a kid and run around with her big brother!  They pay games together now.  Simple ones, the favorite being: blow raspberries on Mama’s belly!  This game is common in the morning, or anytime I try to lay on the floor to do yoga.  I don’t totally love getting covered in baby drool, but they both find it so hilarious that I usually don’t protest much.  They also play a game that could be described as simple hide and seek / peek-a-boo.  He is getting more gentle with her.  She crawled up and gave him five hugs in a row the other day, which just about melted my heart.

It didn’t happen until the next day, but when the crimson clover seed finally entered the garden beds it did so from all four of our hands.  We all reached into the bag, felt smooth seeds between our fingers, thanked the earth for its bounty, and then sprinkled them about!  We didn’t water because I knew the rains were coming.  I figured the seeds would rather be awoken by the first sweet drops of fall rain.  Today it poured!  The topsoil is wet.  Grow little seeds, grow!

Right now life is good.  Filled with nature, children, love and for these miraculous days… sleep!  I have thoughts.  Ideas, even.  About things.  Other than my sweet babies.  Perhaps I will write them here soon.

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pause

Sleep is a rare commodity these days, and with it goes brain-functioning activities like thinking and writing.  There are plenty of moments when I long for the future, but today there was one perfect moment that made me want to hit pause.  It was sunny, almost seventy, later in the afternoon after a hearty snack on the deck.  Up went the hammock, then the outdoor blinds to make a bit of shade.  I climbed in the hammock with Sierra and she instantly thought about snug-up time.  Sam crawled in too, facing the other way so we could see each other, and she nursed while he calculated and I rocked us.  The sun was shinning and the weeds were growing, but for the entire afternoon the neighborhood was quiet of lawn mowing and weed whacking.   There was a giant toy cash register on Sam’s lap, asking two-digit addition problems, which might have disturbed the tranquility if I had let it.  Instead I tried my best to solve the problems and he typed in the answers.  I got most of them right.  My brain isn’t all the way dead.  Anyway, my hearts swollen so big it’s hard to imagine there’s room for more love.  But there is!  And someday, before you know it, there will be thoughts and words again too.

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We survived hanukkah, solstice and christmas.  New Years is still ahead but since I won’t be staying up all night partying with my friends, I think we can mostly ignore that one for now.  What I want to write about, but am having a hard time finding words for, is my current struggle to create the traditions that will define the holidays for our family.  Having kids, one who is now old enough to be aware of what’s going on, is bringing this issue to the surface.

Hanukkah worked great this year: we lit the candles almost every night, sung a little and then played as they burned down, occasionally returning to “check on them.”  The only night Sam got presents was on the 4th night when my mom and dad and aunt Carol came and we made latkas (with potatoes AND sweet potatoes!) sung songs, played with dradels and danced around.  The only thing I’d do different for next year is have my own album of hanukkah songs and print out the blessings so I don’t fumble them.  Simple, easy and specked with candle magic.

Solstice is the holiday I care most about, and this year it took care of itself.  The night before was the most amazing lunar eclipse.  Anni dropped by for a bit earlier in the evening and implanted dreams of staying up all night enjoying the world’s marvels.  Then we got a bit of lunar magic: the kids both slept, soundly without a peep, while we watched the eclipse from beginning to (almost) end.  At first we were going in and out, but the last hour or so we pulled a blanket up under our south facing skylight window and snuggled together while peeking at the disappearing moon through the window.  There were clouds, but they were thin and you could almost always see something of the moon with occasional moments of complete clarity.  The moon’s complete coverage happened just as we entered the day of the longest night, hard to get much more magical than that!

The next day was solstice (3:38pm to be exact) and my mom and grandma happened to be visiting for the afternoon.  We painted a mandala together, with Sam adding a beautiful bit of chaos to the order.  That night I wanted to do some sort of simple ritual with the family, to acknowledge the changing season.  But I didn’t manage to ever plan anything.  After work Ben stopped at Jerry’s to buy something for the toilet and called to tell me all their cut trees had been reduced to the price of free.  Should I get one?  Well, why not!

Here I must divert for a moment to say something about our family history with trees.  Growing up in a Jewish family we obviously never had christmas trees.  This was sad for me as a kid, but, I was a kid so what can you do?  Plus, even as a kid it seemed kinda wasteful to cut down a tree just to look at it for a little while and then throw it away.  Once I grew up, got married and bought a house I could have got one, but by then I was over it and never bothered with it.   Then one year, driving home from work  a couple days before christmas, I passed an empty lot on west 11th were they had been selling trees.  The guy and his truck were gone and all that was left were a few trees and a big spray painted sign saying FREE.  I pulled over to check out the situation, and I think a little tear may have fallen from eye.  What??  Someone cut down these trees and now they are just leaving them here in this empty lot to wither?  I knew I couldn’t rescue them all, but I picked out a beautiful (if slightly asymmetrical) 6′ tall noble fir and brought it home.   Once we bought a stand and got the tree set up I was astounded at how wonderful the house smelled and how festive the tree made everything feel.  The next day at work I told Tony about our tree and he suggested adding a shot of vodka to the water to help keep the sap flowing and the needles green.  And you know what?  Our vodka-fed free tree stayed green and luscious that year until the spring equinox!  We loved that little tree, and even though it was kinda rude for someone to cut it down in the first place I think we honored the tree spirits proper in the end.  When we finally did take the tree down, we cut off a piece of the truck and saved it for our yule log the next year.

Well, the only other year we got a tree was last year.  Sam was two and I thought it would be fun to go out to a tree farm and pick out and cut our own tree.  Well, the tree farm was festive enough but it happened to be below freezing that week and so hunting for a tree was a bit bone chilling.  We looked and looked for a tree with personality but they had all been trimmed to perfection – from my eyes losing much of their natural beauty.  We finally settled for one with a oddly shaped top and payed a small fortune for a tree that I didn’t love.  The saving grace of the whole ordeal with the fresh doughnut cart parked on site that made us a dozen hot mini doughnuts that we inhaled by a small fire.

Which brings us to this year.  I was not planning to get a tree this year.  But then on solstice, one appeared!  We set it up, fed it with water and vodka and took deep breaths through our noses savoring the piney goodness.  And I think  this may be our new family tradition: free tree rescue!

Getting back to solstice night, after we set up the tree I got out my goddess bowl and Sam helped me fill it with water.  We placed it in the middle of the carpet circle and he ran around it while I hunted for floating candles.  Once we had the whole family gathered (Sierra woke from her nap on the couch just in time) we said a few things and then lit the candles.  Sam was in full rapture of the ceremony but it was totally unplanned.  Once they were burning and floating we just kinda sat there, until Sam said, “Let’s sing!”  Oh right!  Good job little one!  So we sung a couple pagan songs, then got out the iPod and played a few more.  Soon we were dancing (or running) around our little watery fire each at our own speed like the planets orbiting the sun.  By then it was getting late and I could tell the toddler was running on reserves, so we did a quick grounding and got ready for bed.  No presents, no whining, just candles, singing and dancing.  And plenty of solstice magic.

Okay so this is getting long, but I did want to save a few words for christmas.  This one for me is the hardest.  I am not a Christian in any way shape or form, but, this holiday is so central to our american culture.  Growing up a Jew in a Christian world made me feel left out that all the other kids got christmas and I didn’t.  So I was thinking, let’s not give this holiday that power over our kids.  Why not just get some presents and give them to the kids on christmas?  We tried that this year, and I gotta say it didn’t really work.  Presents brought out plenty of bad behavor in the three-year old.  He made a couple gifts for us at his schools, but when it was time to exchange gifts he thought they should ALL be for him, and even wanted to open the ones he had made.  I got a couple things for Ben which I think he actually liked, a new pair of slippers and a mini digital projector.  He didn’t get a chance to get anything for me, which was fine but probably made him feel bad.  Besides opening the gifts, we didn’t really know what to do with the day.  We cleaned mold off the windows and I got outside for an hour or so to do some weeding. I think being outside with my hands in the mud was my favorite part of the day.

Honestly I kinda wish we could go back to ignoring christmas like we used to.  All the shopping and consumerism isn’t really my style.  But it is difficult to ignore it becasue our culture is so focused on it.  Ben had to work solstice, plus the day before and the day after, but for christmas he was off four days in a row.  Maybe next year we should get a cabin in the snow for the christmas holiday and hide up there, just our family, and come back when it’s all over.  Or?  My mom says pick your favorite parts about the holidays and just do that.  For her, christmas is about signing carols and making cookies.  She has no interest in things like trees and presents.  Seems like a good approach.  I’m sure if you put a ton of effort into it; decorate the house, get a tree, buy lots of presents, play christmas music all the time, bake cookies, prepare a feast for christmas eve and christmas day, hang stockings, go caroling… etc, etc, the day would be fully magical.  But, I’m just not that into it.  And I guess I’m wondering if it’s worth doing this holiday half-assed, or, if it’s one of those things you should either do it right or not do it at all.

We’ll see.  I’m learning… we’ll figure this holiday thing out eventually.  Probably by the time the kids head off to college we’ll have it down! 🙂

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By the calendar it’s still a few days off, but I could smell Lammas in the air yesterday.  It’s hard to describe the scent that marks this season, but once recognized it is unmistakable.  Summer has settled in, the grass is dry and brown, the queen ann’s lace and tomatoes are flowering.    The afternoon heat is scalding, but sunset comes sooner with each passing day.

For me, this year, I get to watch my belly swell as the fruit ripens.  The little creature inside me is kicking and dancing with life and every day I grow more thankful for the abundance.  Such sweet abundance just now, I’m afraid to count my blessings because there are so many and perhaps some spirit will notice I’ve got more than my fair share.  Still, I want to take pause and give thanks.   My heart is as swollen as my belly with the love I have for my friends, family and most of all my children.

Like a switch, somewhere around his third birthday, Sam changed from a moody and exhausting 2-year-old to the most amazing and enjoyable little person.  He’s out of diapers (during the day) and we talk through most problems without resorting to time-outs.  If I need something he is often happy to fetch it for me, and everyday he’s accomplishing more simple tasks on his own.  We tell each other stories, sing songs together, and put together countless puzzles and lego cars.  This summer has been like a happy dream from childhood.  We sleep in, make pancakes together, water the garden for hours, swim with friends during the day, go camping almost every weekend.  Besides the love and my family, what I am most thankful for right now is time.  I am relishing this freedom I haven’t felt since I was a kid in the summertime; no school, no job to suck my time and energy.  I might feel a little guilt, cuz we are technically quite broke, but I don’t.  This is the only summer I will have where my little boy is three and we spend the long hot days together just the two of us.  I have the rest of my life to trade my time for money.  And soon, there will be one more of us.  As excited as I am to meet this new baby, I’m already missing the calm connectedness of just-Sam-and-me-time.

Being pregnant and spending all of my time with my child means I live by my heart more than my head.  Instinct, intuition, love… much more useful than facts or logic.  And spending so much time in this heart space has made me realize how much more vulnerable I am now than I was a few years ago.  Back then there were many tragic things that could have made me sad, but now, something could happen that would feel worse than having my beating heart ripped out of my chest.  I realize this is the catch of having kids, you suddenly have so much to lose.  And I was wondering, how does this not drive one crazy?  How do parents keep from becoming neurotic and wanting to shelter their children from everything in the world that might cause them harm?  What if they die?  It may seem odd to dwell on death while making a new life, but in the circle of life the two are actually quite close together.  Being pregnant is full of uncertainly.  The key, I’m guessing, is to turn fear into hope and to spend as much time as possible in the here-and-now.   In this moment my toddler is sleeping peacefully in his bed, my unborn child is resting in my womb.  The past is over, the future is unknown, but right now, in this moment, all is well.

Ben started a fire tonight, using a bow and friction.  I made the bowstring from a piece of braintanned elk skin, he cut the bow from our cherry tree.  There are 24 pounds of organic blueberries on my counter waiting to be frozen and bagged.  Today we swam in the McKenzie and the icy water washed away the sweat from picking blues in the hot afternoon sun.  Sam laughed and laughed as he swam between me and Hali until his lips turned blue and we stuck him up on a warm rock in the sun to defrost.  Nothing like getting a little chill late on a hot summer day to help one sleep well that night.

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So it’s Beltane, and look, I’m writing another blog.  I find this mildly amusing since I wrote the last one on the spring equinox.  Anyway I’m not quite as blissed out today as I was then, but, the child is sleeping and I have a few minutes with the house to myself.  Tonight we went to a Ben’s friend’s party, and it made me miss my friends. I wish I was spending this holiday with them.  To each their own.  Some people get drunk and race four wheelers around their property making cookies in the mud, others dance the maypole and sit around the fire singing and drumming.  On some level I get it, either way, on another, one just doesn’t work for me.

I did have a nice time at a native plant sale today, put on by the friends of Buford Park.  I had a long chat with one of the board members who’s lived near the park for about as long as I’ve been alive.  It’s an ecologically diverse 2300 acres of park wedged between the Middle and Coast forks of the Willamette, just a few minutes from my house.   But how amazing would it be to live with that as your backyard?  He said he runs the trails in the park all the time, just outside his back door.  Someday, when I’m ready to leave the conveniences of the city, it might be fun to live out there.  I used to think I’d migrate to the Loraine valley just south of here.  But most of that area is 2-10 acre parcels, all privately owned.  I’d be in the country, but basically confined to my land.   I like the idea of a little land for us next to a BIG public nature area.  But that’s just me dreaming, there’s no moving in the cards for us anytime soon.  The Friends of Buford Park have a beautiful little native plant nursery, where they collect seed to spread around the park.  I’d like to spend more time out there, and maybe help out.

With all that extra energy I have these days.  Ha! I can barely keep up with toddler, house chores, cooking, and volunteering for Nearby Nature and extension.  Oh right, and making this baby.  I think 50% of my energy must go into baby making.   I whine about it a lot, the not having energy thing.  Probably should just let it go and hope for productivity at some other phase of my life.  I have been doing yoga and drinking more water, which helps.  I’m 15 weeks along and I got to hear the heartbeat again the other day.  She’s got a good little pumper!  Okay I don’t really know if it’s a girl, but I feel like it is.  Hopefully we’ll get to find out sometime early June, if I have insurance by then.

The oil spill in the gulf is really bothering me.  I had dreams about it all last night and woke up quite cranky. I don’t actually read the news much these days, but I caught that story early on and have been watching closely.  I was really rooting for those little robots that were going to swim down there and seal it all up.  But that was days ago, and since that failed things have gone from bad to worse.   Just when I think humans couldn’t possibly be more ruthless with our consumption and destruction of this planet, we go and one-up ourselves.  There is an old Indian woman in my soul and she cries and cries at the destruction at hand.  The problem with caring about the Mother is you start to FEEL the Mother, and when you take it all in it isn’t a good feeling these days. Luckally, there are beautiful natural areas nearby to remind me all is not lost.

In my yard today I saw a big snake, a queen bumble bee and a beautiful little butterfly.  As my habitat areas are getting more wild and overgrown I see their potential to attract residents is growing.  It’s amazing how ‘the old log’ starts to become a destination because you know you’ll find something crawling around on it.  Lately I’ve been dreaming about a really big old log rotting slowly up in the corner.   Might have to settle for a few smaller ones and a nice pile of sticks.

Okay well, there will be a drunk husband coming home at some point and it’s probably better I’m asleep before then.  Sorry I don’t have any fabulous stories of dancing naked around the Beltane fires… maybe next year.

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tiny lily

Welcome Spring!  Today I am Red Fawn Earth Flower of MAGIC!  (One of my favorite ephemeral names yet.) 🙂

Today I had a beautiful opportunity to create art with a group of women close to me.  We were guided each step of the way, which helped my stagnant brain remember how to create.  I wish I could see further ahead in what I’m making, but maybe that would take some of the fun away.   I’m not overly proud of my creation, but the process unplugged channels and even now I can feel the increased flow.  I want to paint more, bead, write.  Words are more comfortable than paint, but paint is so beautiful.   I am thankful that I start this season in a burst of creativity felling connected to love.  And now two of my close friends have done a ritual art creation with my mom; perhaps creating new pathways and deeper understanding?

I feel like I am coming out of a fog.  Less nauseous, flowing with my son more peacefully, feeling the little life inside me move.  The warm sun and smell of spring air these past few days has washed away the grumpiness.  I am still tired, and food is… different… but when the sun is out it all feels okay.

Yesterday it was warm enough by two in the afternoon that I put on my swimsuit and prepared the deck to lay out.  I gave Sam the option of nap time in bed, or, nap time on the deck, knowing exactly what his choice would be.  I had no illusions he would actually go to sleep, he rarely does in his bed anymore, but he is familiar with the concept of quiet time.  We spent the better part of an hour laying on a blanket with pillows, talking, singing songs, and “sleeping.”  He was happy to spend nap time in the sun with Mama, I was happy to feel the sun on my poor itchy skin, to lay down and rest, and even for the adorable company.   I swear the sun melts all bad feelings away.

My garden is in a less happy state.  All the native stuff is perfect all on its own, but the part that I want to produce food is not magically appearing.  I’ve been thinking about the idea that we make a contract with food plants: we take good care of them, keep weeds away, water them, make sure they have good soil, and they make us food.  They aren’t like native plants, where they are designed to survive just fine all on their own.  It’s not a new or particularly amazing revelation: that farming takes work, still, it is sinking it.  My current problem is the neighbors chickens tear up my vegetable bed every morning  looking for worms.  Thanks guys, for eating all my worms.  I hope I run into the neighbor tomorrow so we can have a little talk about it.  We’ve talked about the fact that his chickens get in my yard before, him feeling concerned out it, and me not so much.  But before they stuck to the upper back corner of the lot and I wasn’t trying to grow food yet.  Now my peas are in and the chickens were last spotted roaming our deck.   So we need to talk and find a solution.  It’s only March, there is still hope.

We had our last master gardener class last week, and the final exam is due on Wednesday.  I guess now we start working our payback hours.  Also spring hikes are starting with Nearby Nature, and I hope to lead a walk a week with the kids.  This is my first spring, and I’m sure it will be very different from fall.  More flying things and flowers, which should make for lots to talk about.   I am still searching for a new story, or two.  Telling a nature story on a nature hike is magical, especially if you’ve got a story you can relate to the things around you.  I have one that I was getting the hang of by the end of fall season, but I am ready for something new.  Also there is a database creation project in the pipeline for the McKenzie Watershed Council.  It’s simple but when I outlined it I realized I needed a many-to-many table relationship which I haven’t done before.  I did a bit of research and surprised myself at how excited I was to try out a new technique.   Sometimes there are things in life you can walk away from, then return to later after you think you must have forgotten everything about it, and it’s right there waiting.

Guitar is like that for me, Blessed BE!  I am no master, but it brings me so much joy.  But it comes in waves where I practice every day, then, I don’t pick it up for eight months or a year.  I found is I can work on a piece, like I did sometime last month, intensely for several hours one evening.  In this case I kinda gave up, got distracted, and didn’t think about it for a couple weeks.  Well, when I tried the piece again for the first time two weeks later, I had it!  Just like that, as if I’d been practicing all along.  Years ago I noticed my barr chords got better after working on them for a while then taking a break, but this song last month really surprised me.  The brain the an amazing thing.  Anyway, my real gift of music lately has been getting together with three of my friends on a semi-regular basis to play together.  We are all learning guitar and love singing, and last week I got to experience that rare joy of hearing yourself harmonize with others.  I hope we will continue to meet and our connection will grow stronger.

I think the baby is about 10 weeks old, or, pre-old?  I dunno, the pregnancy is 10 weeks along, which means I conceived 8 weeks ago.  Did I mention I conceived on Imbolc?  I have a good feeling about it.  I’m excited about giving birth.  I know I was awful slow at it last time, but now I have experience!  And since I’ve been taking long salt-water baths upstairs to help my skin, the space has become quite sacred to me.  With the blinds open some nights I can lay there and see the moon.  My old jade tree is nearby, along with several other plants and my candles.  I often light four, welcome the directions in my mind, and pour the salt that is her body into the waters of her sacred womb.  Formal ritual is rare in my life these days, but in its absence I am blessed by these simple solitary ones.   I can imagine myself giving birth in that tub, or at least laboring in it, and that makes me excited.  I took a sitz bath up there the evening after Sam was born- my first moment alone after all those days of labor, and I vividly remember that wonderful feeling.  I couldn’t believe I DID it, that it was OVER and that there was this beautiful tiny baby waiting for my downstairs.  That was an amazing day.

But life being what it is, I also think from time to time about the birth of that little boy that would have been Sam’s big brother.  Noah Levi we named him, and his time here was very short.  I think of him as a reminder to stay in the present because the future is still unknown.  A little girl, a little boy, twins!, or perhaps none.  These could all be and whatever journey life brings I am strong, I am grounded and I will grow.  (At least that’s what I keep telling myself.)

Okay well let’s not end on that depressing note (it’s not really depressing to ME but I know it can be to others.)  Humm… I know, a silly Sam antic.  So Sam LOVES this new song Dawn gave us called the Worm Rap.  It’s all about worms and he opens iTunes and plays it 10 times in a row every chance he gets.  The other day we were out in the garden and he started saying, “Eat dirt, make oil!”  It confused me because I didn’t know what dirt had to do with oil, and I assumed we were past the eating dirt part of babyhood.  I tried to tell him perhaps eating dirt wasn’t such a great idea.  Well, later that day or the next day we were inside and the worm song was playing and I noticed one of the lines was, “Worms eat dirt and out comes soil!”  And it brought a big grin to my face because then I understood the earth-oil connection.  It’s pretty amazing once your kid starts picking up on things you miss, and then brings it to your attention.  I imagine parents of teenagers often don’t feel that way, but at this point its a novelty.

If you got through all that… WOW!  thanks for reading and happy SPRING!

Equinox playshop

Equinox Ritual Playshop led by Mara Friedman

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