Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday

We wake to pellets of ice hitting the bedroom skylight. Yes, I know it's just a fleeting sidestep into winter, but it all feels so cold and unpleasant. The farmette has a thin layer of icy something on its paths. I suppose there's beauty in every landscape, but this just seems so cruel after the days of spring-like madness!


farmette life-1.jpg



Well, it's great in the farmhouse! And breakfast is full of color and flowering things.


farmette life-4.jpg



...but we have to acknowledge and accept this reality: spring is still 24 days away.


farmette life-6.jpg



When I pick up Snowdrop after school, she asks with such hope for the stroller and of course, I have to disappoint her. We take the car to her home and even the leftover bit of cheesy croissant doesn't quite make up for the fact that this day is no Wednesday February 22 2017.


farmette life-14.jpg



We look around for ways to make the day brighter. With crayons!


farmette life-27.jpg



(... and dreams of trips to warmer places?)


farmette life-32.jpg



But of course, you know how kids are: they don't get that a day could be so much brighter, warmer, filled with color outside. They may complain about not getting that "one more cookie" or having to go upstairs for a nap, but you'll never hear a two year old say -- "the world is just too drab and gray right now!"


farmette life-35.jpg




Evening. Post nap, post day, post crazy week. Sit back, exhale. (And munch a handful of goldfish crackers.)


farmette life-7-2.jpg



Smile at the beauty of it all: the people around you, the warm air at home, the goldfish crackers.


farmette life-9.jpg





In fact, I am heading south tomorrow: to Chicago, to visit my younger daughter. On the one hand, it will be cold there (just above freezing). On the other, it will be four degrees warmer than here (just below freezing). I'll take it!


farmette life-10.jpg



Thursday, February 23, 2017

sliding down to February

I look back at yesterday's post to convince myself that the day was real. Today, we're slowly moving back down to something that is closer to winter, though not fully so: mid 40sF (around 7C) is still quite a bit above average for Wisconsin.

Well, let's not be greedy. Breakfast, however, is in the front room. No sun today, just to add insult to the tumbling temperatures.


farmette life-2.jpg



Still, there are the telltale signs of the coming of spring. For example, when I pick up Snowdrop, I am delighted to see right by her school a clump of... snowdrops! Such prettiness!


farmette life-4.jpg



Snowdrop (the girl) wants to stay out, but the idea of going for a stroller walk today is just so unexciting to me. I propose we drive over to Paul's coffee shop and fortify ourselves with a cheesy croissant.

But on our way to Paul's we pass a playground. Surely she'd love a little swing time? Yes she would!

The playground is empty, but right next to it there is a stretch of grassy terrain and a guy is practicing his golf swing on it. Snowdrop is fascinated.
He is playing baseball! -- she tells me.
Actually golf. Similar but different!


farmette life-20.jpg



She considers this, then corrects me: he's playing baseball.
Who am I to argue? She has been to more ball games in her short life than I have in mine.

The swings here allow for a higher soar and she is delighted by this!


farmette life-27.jpg



I can hardly watch the back and forth (dizzying!) and after a while I try to interest her in the rest of the playground equipment. She is game, but it's a little over her age.


farmette life-31.jpg



We drive on to Paul's to pick up our prize snack to take back to the farmhouse.


farmette life-35.jpg



Later, much later, Snowdrop takes her much needed daily nap. Most kids who are up as early as she is and who go through such a rich and varied morning plunk down soon after the noon hour. Snowdrop pushes that. If you put her down too early, she'll play in her bed for well over an hour, but she will not nap. So I delay. There is a price to that: she sleeps well and long alright, but she wakes up in a daze. It takes a while for her to regain her footing.

(Snowdrop, working on regaining her footing.)


farmette life-8.jpg



Perhaps I especially like this photo because right now, I feel like after a nap myself. There was this dream of warm air and sunny skies. I woke up then, but I'm still a little discombobulated.

I'll regain my footing once the snow starts falling tomorrow morning. We'll be solidly into winter again. Yeah! Familiar turf for February in Wisconsin!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wednesday: even warmer!!

We reached 68F (20C) this afternoon. Perhaps we passed it. In February, I can't count that high. (Just to give you some perspective, the previous record for this day was set in 1991 at 50F, or 10C.)

I know it is the last day of our "heat wave." I know, too, that it's a little disconcerting to jump to extremes like this. But if I can put aside climate worries just for this one day, I will let myself drink in this incredible gift of over the top weather! Sort of like being told that just for one day you can be a genius writer, or a child without cares. Reap the rewards, because surely there will come the days when the storms will bring hail and your writing will flounder and the responsibilities of life will overwhelm you.

What would you do with a morning of such beautiful, warm, sunny air?  Ed and I turn our attention toward the garden. We are driven to experiment, to dream up new ideas, to plan big.

And so, immediately after a sunny breakfast...


farmette life-1.jpg


... we go outside and Ed begins work on what we will playfully call the strawberry fence. The idea is to plant strawberries in the air -- out of reach of our groundhogs and chipmunks. We had a bumper strawberry crop last year and every single berry was eaten before it had even ripened. What if we had pots of berries up high, suspended from a fence? (Ed's idea.)

Initially I protested: they'll need frequent watering, so they have to be near a hose.
Okay, I'll build it near a hose.
The winds will knock it down.
I'll make it sturdy.
I must admit, it would be lovely if Snowdrop could pick a berry fresh off a stem...
We have all the bushes in the ground. Let's move them up higher.

He gets to work.


farmette life-8.jpg


The chickens watch, intrigued.


farmette life-4.jpg



I can't help much and so I rake and weed the beds. Yes, it's the middle of February and I'm plucking out creeping charlie! This dreadful project when done in the heat of the summer is delightful when accomplished in the middle of February.

I stop when it's time to pick up Snowdrop.

There is no doubt that this day is perfect for a walk to the park. She is just so happy to be there, happy to run to the swing, happy to be coat free, carefree, happy to be!


farmette life-11.jpg



(The greatest joy: to be on the swing munching on a corner of leftover cheesy croissant.)


farmette life-21.jpg



After, I bring her back to the farmette.


farmette life-33.jpg



Yes, she does have a brief (ever so brief) period of play indoors...


farmette life-38.jpg



... but once she spies ahah working on the strawberry fence outside, she clamors to be out with him.

She is free as a bird, in ways that I haven't seen in a long while. She prances, she coaxes Ed into games...


farmette life-52.jpg



she tries her hand at raking the lotus seed pods...


farmette life-58.jpg



she sees me on my iPhone and she takes out her own version of it, sitting down on what she calls "my small bench..."


farmette life-60.jpg



We show her how to help with filling the pots with dirt. It's not easy. The soil is heavy, the spade is awkward. But she is great at it!


farmette life-80.jpg


Really quite fantastic!


farmette life-82.jpg



Trying to lure her back indoors is hard. Okay, Snowdrop. One more chore. Let's get the mail. It's a task she loves and this time, emboldened and feeling mighty strong, she herself pulls the wagon to the mailbox, toughing out the soft soil, the inclines, all of it.


farmette life-94.jpg


The day moves forward so quickly! Snowdrop naps, Ed lights a fire to the huge pile of lotus seed pods I had raked. This is the second time we've had to burn a stack. The lotus trees are enormous and their pods are equally oversized! Were I to let them alone, the yard would be littered first with their unsightly debris and eventually, with sprouts and saplings.


Evening. Snowdrop is awake again and she is so happy to be told that she can eat her corn on the cob snack outside, on the picnic table, alongside ahah.


farmette life-18.jpg



The fire burns. The air has the small of campfires, of sunsets, of the outdoors.


farmette life-9.jpg



I'm sitting next to ahah. Hi there ahah. (that playful slap on the shoulder...)


farmette life-25.jpg



Hi there Snowdrop. (that gentle pat on her arm...)


farmette life-26.jpg



So this is our day. Our glorious beautiful February summer day!


farmette life-98.jpg


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tuesday: even warmer!

Such beautiful sunshine!

I'll let the photos do the talking today. With temperatures at 63F (17C), we've beat another record. There is no time to sit still and contemplate phrases that best describe the high points. Seize the day! Go out, go out!

After breakfast that is.


farmette life-2.jpg



(Java: "Seize the day? I seize every day. I just don't lay eggs. I leave that to the others.")


farmette life-3.jpg



Ed and I bike to vote (primaries today) and we stop at Paul's Cafe to purchase pickles. Like old times (both the biking, and Paul's, and pickles)!


farmette life-6.jpg



Heading back to the farmette: the clouds of yesterday are no more! (The view is toward the farmette. You can spot our silo.)


farmette life-8.jpg



Snowdrop, after school, enjoying a cheesy croissant (that gaga purchased at Paul's for her) outside, looking at the lake and trying to decide if it's ice or water. (She tells me: it's water, gaga. But I detect uncertainty.)


farmette life-16.jpg



Seize the day!


farmette life-24.jpg



On the playground, watching an older girl work the swings.


farmette life-31.jpg



I walk home with her, but she wants to stay outside! Her mommy joins us for a walk to another park, where, predictably, Snowdrop runs toward the swings.


farmette life-37.jpg




farmette life-40.jpg



I say nap time! She says -- I have to cook dinner. I win.


farmette life-58.jpg



Of course, I never really win. Snowdrop knows I'm a sucker for her smile and willing to work long and hard to help her find a way out of her pickles.

Which brings me around back to the pickles. Our best in the Midwest pickles are just a few miles up the road. Don't you think that it's fortuitous that Ed and I live so close to something so ridiculously silly that means so much to us? 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Monday warmth

What can I say... The weather is not only my topic, it's everyone's topic here in Wisconsin. It's the talk of the town, the subject du jour, the theme that overrides nearly every other.

So I start with my afternoon temperature reading: 62F (nearly 17C).

There are clouds, yes and there will be rain. Our muddy courtyard will surely have us sinking ankle deep in dirt. But who can complain?!

Breakfast.


farmette life-3.jpg



After that I play catch up. If yesterday was about being with Snowdrop and then working in the yard, today I'm faced with the inevitable round of house chores.

When I pick up the little girl at school, she is like a broken record: I want to go in the stroller I want to go in the stroller... Please!

It's not raining yet. Off we go. Our usual route -- to the playground and this time, she is happy to climb and slide and do all those things that really tell me that she is back in good weather outdoor play mode.


farmette life-12.jpg



(What am I going to tell her when it turns cold again in March? Because I know we have flipped months and we will pay a price for this luxurious trip into the balmy air more appropriate for southern Spain than for the upper Midwest right now.)


At the farmhouse, Snowdrop happily falls into her regular play routines. Me, I tease her. I think she knows it's a tease because I don't look serious. But I'm not sure.
You put out such nice cakes for your wild animals. But I'm going to eat them, one by one!
No, gaga, they're not for you!
Oh but they're so yummy looking. Yeah, I'm going to help myself to all of them!
Those are for the animals!


farmette life-29.jpg



She laughs then and I know she gets the joke.


farmette life-32.jpg



The three of us draw and this is always wonderful. Snowdrop gets one page, Ed and I get the other. There are always instructions from her: which color to use and what should emerge from our sketches.


farmette life-34.jpg



She appears satisfied with the final product.


farmette life-37.jpg



Later, much later, I get ready to drive her home. She pauses to chat with the cheepers, to ride ahah's shoulders...


farmette life-2-2.jpg




farmette life-3-2.jpg



... and then we are at her house where I linger, fascinated by her love of music: the Dancing Queen is playing and she runs to get her dancing circle (whaaat? it looks like a frying pan cover to me!)... And now she is exuberant and my time with her ends for me on this high note.


farmette life-11-2.jpg



I drive home as the sun sets and the mist rolls in.


farmette life-13-2.jpg


So this is like a regular day, isn't it? There are chores. There's a little girl laughing, drawing, there's Ed looking serious at breakfast, less so when he is playing with Snowdrop, there's music, there is the dancing.

And yet, it hardly feels regular. The February warmth! So unexpected! Gentle and kind. Generous and beautiful. Giving a respite from other realities as they unfold alongside the everyday.