Saturday, February 25, 2017


Looking out, we see that the farmette is covered with snow.

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The wind is bitter cold, the ground is slippery. I scrape the car, sweep the walkway to the house. But you know, it's different now than say in December. I do this with a lighter step. It's all temporary. We'll swing around these weather patterns, but the direction is good. We're moving out of this mess.

(Henny remembers the good times from a few days back. She ventures out, hesitates, then returns to the barn.)

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Ed and I eat a lovely breakfast in the sun room. There isn't really much in the way of sunshine, but it's a cheerful place to be.

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And then I catch the bus for Chicago -- home to my younger daughter and her husband.


I'm not here for long and of course, it's not a great day for outdoor adventuring, so we turn it into a pre-Oscar visit: we take in a movie (one that I've seen, but I'm on a Hygge roll right now and this movie is as sweet as the honey biscuits I tucked into my grocery cart yesterday morning).

(A coffee break before the movie...)


We eat dinner at the Lula CafeJonny, our favorite Madison food person, had recently told me he liked it best for Chicago eating and I hadn't even heard of it and so my girl booked us a table for tonight.


Yes, good food, kind days, good nights.
 To all -- good night.

Friday, February 24, 2017


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!

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

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

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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.

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

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

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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!"

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

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

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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

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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.)

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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...

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... 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.

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The chickens watch, intrigued.

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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!

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

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After, I bring her back to the farmette.

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

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... 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...

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

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

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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!

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Really quite fantastic!

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

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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)!

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

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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.)

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Seize the day!

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

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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.

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

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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?