Sunday, June 26, 2016

the end of a farmette vacation

We were surprised this morning by an unusually strong thunderstorm. Pounding rain, flashing lights -- you'd think Snowdrop would wake up, but no. Not a peep from the room next door. I wasn't in a hurry to step out in all that racket and so Ed volunteered to open up the coop.

I thought I'd catch many more hours of sleep. Snowdrop went to bed so much later last night! Surely she'd sleep in past her usual farmhouse 8, but no. She wakes up, plays in bed for a while then demands to join the rest of the world.

She eats breakfast part A (her usual mushy stuff) and then I bathe her and make breakfast part B: farmhouse pancakes.


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It's getting hot even in this still rather early hour, but we have a fan on the porch and Snowdrop never fails to appreciatively point to it when I tell her that we need some cool air.

But taking a walk around the farmette (with her entourage) is another matter.


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Oh, she's happy to be outside, but very quickly she suggests a wagon might be the way to go. I tell her that pulling her around in a wagon in this hot weather is about as attractive to me as building pyramids in the blazing dessert. I pause to take a look at the rain soaked lovely lilies (the day ones and the true ones)...


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(And I have not a small amount of satisfaction from seeing how much I managed to cut back the ditch lilies from the front of the farmhouse: I agreed to leave a thin row for this year, just because Ed thinks they're a good reminder of the house's humble past and, too, he swears they attract a certain breed of frog.)


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And then I suggest an outing to Wingra Park, where this weekend they are holding the Midwest log rolling competition. The championship events are scheduled for the afternoon, but there are some local challenges going on all day and I thought this may be a grand excuse to hang out by the lake and watch people fall into the water.

I do not regret the outing, but the little girl is caught in a bind: to sit in a stroller on a hot day -- that's just not her. To run around in boggy (from the rain) grasses under the glaring sun -- not that either. Slowly we make our way toward the water as she pauses to mull over the possibilities, not exactly loving any of her options.


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Once we reach the water's edge, I encourage her to watch the boom running event. There are hardly any onlookers and I think she should add her support to these earnest log loving athletes. She is, however, indifferent to their talents in running down the wobbly logs.


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In the end, I get her to concentrate for a few minutes...


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... and I think perhaps some onlookers may have appreciated her very emphatic reaction to one runner's loss of balance and big splash into the water. Oh-oh! -- the little girl said loudly. (It is her favorite word for when things fall down which, for a toddler, is a fairly frequent occurrence.)

On the way back, she figures out how to push this rather hard to control farmhouse stroller...


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... and this makes her happy enough for me to continue on with our adventure. We cover the small Monroe Street farmers market, picking up a baguette for lunch and then we stop at Barrique's -- one of our favorite  coffee shops, where bits of oatmeal raisin cookie (and a long gaze at the comings and goings of others) make Snowdrop very happy indeed.


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At home, I give over some of the baguette, along with her usual lunch foods and she is kind enough not to say the obvious -- not anywhere near the good ones she had across the ocean.


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And in the afternoon, we do not dally. We prepare! Snowdrop's mommy and daddy are scheduled to fly in this evening from across the ocean and I want to have dinner ready for them. And there are raspberries to pick for dessert!


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In all honesty,  I had very modest goals for this week: getting Snowdrop to feel happy at the spray of a garden hose.


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Allowing her to pick berries,  which she has devoured and loved since starting in on real foods. With then adding that treat -- the whipped cream. And showing her how to lick the beaters after the final whip.


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Too, I wanted to give her moments of great joy, even though I'm sure she missed her mommy and daddy. (Each time the phone rang, she was sure it was mommy, just because she chatted with mommy on the phone before her mommy flew off and away.)


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And so I have no last minute imperatives. Snowdrop has been a bundle of cooperation all week long.

I prepare predinner snacks. I always set aside a plateful for Ed. This time, Snowdrop shares in his bounty.


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It's as if this were any other Sunday. Early evening comes and I see their car in our driveway. I tell Snowdrop her mommy and daddy are here.


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If she needed a period of readjustment, none of us saw it tonight. It is a beautiful evening out on the farmette porch!


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It seems that the whipped cream on the berries never tasted so good.


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How to end this post... Here's something that sticks in my head -- the fireflies from our late night out. Ed said I should have tried to take a picture of the evening, but this is a tad absurd: the only way I know how to photograph a firefly is to shoot randomly and hope something comes of it.

In reviewing my photos, I see that something came of one such shot. I'll end with that.

We'll watch the fireflies sparkin', do some sparkin' too...



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Saturday, June 25, 2016

farmette vacation, continued

I fear there'll be scant scribblings today -- the day sizzled like the heat wave that's passing through and my time for writing wilted to a few sorry moments.

Sunrise from behind the crooked pine.


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Continued love for the Japanese iris...


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Breakfast, on the porch. Who'll finish the berries first?


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Gym class drum roll!


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Going up is easier than coming down.


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Chase that ball!


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From gym -- straight to the grocery store. We need to restock!

At the checkout, she wants to hit those credit card machine keys.
I comment -- we didn't have that issue with our kids when they were little.
Sales clerk responds -- that's right, no tempting keys to punch; just oven knobs to turn at home.


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Groceries unpacked. Kid bathed. Ed reaches for the oatmeal raisin cookie purchased for him.
Can't I give her some? 
Oh, go ahead.


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Lunch. On the porch. A yogurt for dessert.


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Mmm, good!


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Raspberries, straight from the bush.


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I'll humor you and run to you, grandma, but it really is beastly hot!


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Everything about this season, this day, this moment is beautiful!


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And so we never stay indoors for long. Cool off, go out. Again and again.

I do try to fit in a few gardening tasks. The pots and some of the newly planted flowers need water. Snowdrop chooses to watch the action from inside the wagon.


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She has been so cooperative, so willing to go along with most everything I put before her that I think it's a good moment for a small indulgence -- a Greek yogurt strawberry ice cream bar. Licking a cone had stumped her in Paris. But that was a month ago. 
Lick it, Snowdrop!
She does.
Bliss.


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It required a hose down, but it's worth it. (We finish the fine details of a clean up in the farmhouse kitchen sink.)


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For dinner, I reach for what her mom tells me is a favorite recipe: roasted pepper and artichoke lasagna.
I learn this about the little one: she really loves roasted red peppers. I would not have picked that as a toddler favorite. Ice cream bars, corn on the cob, even raspberries off the bush -- yes. But roasted red peppers? With artichokes?


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 She eats with complete enthusiasm.

I had been putting her to bed just before 8, but tonight -- her last night at the farmhouse -- I want to have her up until it is nearly dark. I wonder if her good spirits will last that long.

They do last.

You could say that I tie a bunch of loose ribbons for her tonight. Maybe it's out of my own desire for continuity and completeness and I'm sure many of you will find it all rather mawkishly sentimental, but here's the deal: it happens that when I was a little girl, I loved the hokey Haley Mills movies, especially Summer Magic. The story there defies rational explanation and the themes that run through it are brutally sexist and possibly a lot of other isms can be found in the subtext, but I loved it as a kid and the music stayed with me all my life.

So much so, that I have taken to singing two of the songs from it every single time Snowdrop and I go out for a stroller walk. She knows them too well and since one refers to front porches and people sitting on them and watching fireflies in the night sky, I use the opportunity to show her the many front porches along our walk, all with chairs and benches (though never with people on them and of course, it's always daytime, so no fireflies).

Too, one of Snowdrop's very favorite books is the Lonely Firefly.

And so for our last night with her here at the farmhouse, I put on the DVD of this most awful and once awfully beloved movie, fast forwarding to the Front Porch song. We snuggle on a blanket and she is wide eyed with amazement as Burl Ives strums and sings. You mean someone else knows gaga's song??? (Did I mention that currently, she calls me gaga?)

Then we read the Firefly book.

And then we go out, she in her red wagon. It is dark, or dark enough. The fireflies are out over the fields, doing their communal dance and the girl uses her newly acquired from gym class word again and again -- whoa! whoa! As in -- that's just awesome!

And it is awesome. And I'll leave you with that, because it just can't be topped.

Friday, June 24, 2016

farmette vacation, continued

With all the Snowdrop-filled posts, I should take a moment to remind us all of one very important point about my Ocean writings: in very many ways, even the most child focused posts are not exactly about Snowdrop. Rather, they are about a child's effect on her grandma. On this grandma.

Oh, sure, Snowdrop's personality comes through in bits and pieces -- how can it not. But in fact,  the little girl's time with me is but one element of her rich and varied life. Snowdrop goes to numerous classes, she has play dates. She is used to people because there is a steady stream of visitors to her home and there are evening outings that quite regularly put her in unfamiliar settings.

Fact is that I am far more retreating in my habits and, my travels notwithstanding, I like to come back to my own peaceful corner come evening time. Ed will ask if I want to go out to dinner and inevitably I will say no. I deeply prefer to cook for the both of us. We eat breakfasts and dinners together just about every day that I am not on the other side of the ocean. You could say that my entire adult life has been structured around preparing dinners for people I love -- mainly my family, sometimes visitors.

And Snowdrop, when she comes here, she participates in life according to the rhythm I have set out for myself. Though she is deeply social, at the farmette, we focus on the other stuff. Chickens. Flowers. Cooking together. And she falls into that pace beautifully. She adapts.


Today raises no questions about the weather: warm and sunny. No breeze. Just summer-like heat.

I let the cheepers out just before sunrise...


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... and take a look at my front road flower bed. There's that Japanese iris again with the spilling petals. Lovely and bold, even in a pure white form.


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And here's a day lily that just happens to catch the first rays of the sun. Apricot turns to gold.


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Speaking of apricot, this year I planted not a small number of lilium bulbs. This is the first one to give us a stunning display.


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Breakfast is on the porch.


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And then Ed is off for his meetings and Snowdrop and I pack into the car and set out on an adventure.

Perhaps you would question the sanity of taking a 17.5 month old to a u-pick strawberry farm (Carandale's) anytime and especially on a warm, sunny day, but we are nearing the end of the strawberry season and I have no great expectations that I should pick an abundant load of berries. I just want the little girl to see her beloved berries growing out there in the fields. (The farmette's rather large strawberry patch fed a robust family of groundhogs this year and I think rabbits and chipmunks helped clean up the remains. We had many berries -- all gone before a single one ripened.)

Carandale Berry Farm is a scant ten miles from here. They are well set up for picking and I used to go there quite regularly, whenever I need quality berries in large amounts..

Follow the road, Snowdrop!


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It is a toasty day, but it's morning still and I'm hoping her hat provides some shady relief.


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Picking berries is hard -- for me and for her. The few berries that remain are buried under dense leaves and there's prickly stuff everywhere (I heard the words poison ivy from another picker... Hmmm...).


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But Snowdrop is up for an adventure and you really get a different perspective on life after you've stuffed some sun warmed berries in your mouth...


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... ignoring the juice that dribbles down your chin.


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I do not push this project. We have a few to take home. We're satisfied.


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At home, I'm interested in cooling off at the farmhouse. Crayon time!


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Yeah, crayons!!


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In the late afternoon, I'm willing to brave the great outdoors again. Equipped with a splash pool and a red wagon.


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I'm starting to see the emergence of summer bugs, but she is still in love with the run, the ride, the play out in the deep (unmowed) grass.


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Ed comes home. We review the berries, the cheepers, the outdoor work, the robin's nest, the pile of woodchips, the tomato growth.


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And then it's time to fix supper. Home made pizza, because I know she loves home made pizza. With mushrooms and olives.


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A quiet night. Someday, Snowdrop may yawn at the idea of coming here, to our quiet farmhouse for a vacation, but for now, she is full of smiles and impish good cheer. And that's such a good thing!