Thursday, May 26, 2016

the calm

In the predawn hours, when your post-travel internal clock makes you think it's time to abandon sleep, I lay in bed thinking endless thoughts about the past ten days.

This is not normal for me. After travel, I put myself in the calm of the farmette again quickly: the day of arrival actually and I focus on what's ahead. But for many many reasons, this Paris trip was perhaps the most intense of all trips I've taken. There were dozens of components to it and as someone mentioned in the comments -- there was the unusual (in a good way) aspect of multi-generational travel. There was, in other words, a lot to reflect on.

It's no secret that I love being with my family. And that I learn a lot about just being human by watching my daughters grow in their own families. Thinking about all this kept me up this morning. And of course, there was the ever fascinating aspect of traveling with Snowdrop to mull over. [Someone mentioned in the comments that they were glad the trip back was easy. I may have given the wrong impression there: none of it was exactly easy. Snowdrop is capable of being as loud as any toddler you've seen in some stages of discombobulation. Her parents had equipped themselves with all known to them resources to help her stay calm and she did, beautifully, in trying circumstances, except for the handful of minutes when she didn't. Too, in Paris itself, Snowdrop was sick for two evenings in a row -- not day times, just evenings -- and we thought one more should lead us to a Parisian doctor. Luckily, the third evening she was fine. And finally, you just never know how much is too much for a young child. Several times I wondered if I had planned something that was unreasonably demanding on her. And still, we all felt that this was an incredibly fine and fun trip for the little girl. That she grew in it -- that she thrived and prospered was a given. I, of course, thrived right there along with her. And not one of us doubts that Snowdrop simply loved Paris!]

When the sun finally cast its first rays onto the fields and dew laden grasses to the east of us (at 5:24 a.m.) and I stepped out to open the coop, I began to feel the calm of the farmette again.

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The beauty of the Parisian trip will never be eclipsed, but it can be tucked a little to the side, so that I can take in the loveliness of what I have here right now, which includes a lot of buds bursting with late spring blooms.

Iris and peony -- they're the leaders.

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Everything is so incredibly lush that even Ed is somewhat taken aback -- it's as if each plant grew and multiplied overnight.

This is a view I rarely photograph: path looking out from the farmhouse, to the sheep shed and barn. The shade garden (to the right) is so dense! When did that happen??

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The annuals -- let me give a grateful nod to them:

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It's unseasonably warm this week --we're to have a high of 86F (that's 30C) today. In May! A storm passes through in the morning and the air is damp. Still, we eat a very modest breakfast on the porch (I have to buy groceries, we are down to nearly empty cupboards!)...

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... and just as the sun begins to reemerge from behind clouds, we set out to plant our tomatoes. They're very strong this season! We don't know why -- the seed type? the right amount of light? the warm days spent outside? We put in 54 this morning.

(Scotch rushes over -- what are you doing without me???)

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Planting. Lots of planting, Scotch.

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Scotch: Oh, well, that's boring. Let me go eat your coreopsis buds while I wait for you to be done.

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We return to the tomatoes after I grocery shop, planting another 36 in the afternoon.

(And oh, the weeding that I do! Oh oh oh!)

I take a break in the late afternoon. For a moment, as I sip my espresso in the new cup from the rue Monsieur le Prince, Paris overwhelms me again.

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And again I push it aside. Ed and I ride his motorcycle to the local farmer's market and though I remember the numerous motorcycles Snowdrop would point to in Paris (prompting always the response -- yes, just like the one grandpa Ed rides back home), I also remember how brilliant it is to ride behind Ed on a warm evening, where the pleasure is not in the destination but in the act of getting there.

One last glance at the garden: these images where several blooms are grouped together to form an unusually beautiful whole is really why I garden. Here's one for you:

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I left in cool spring weather and I came back to summer. And that's not such a bad thing!

P.S. A million thanks to all who wrote in comments or elsewhere while I was in Paris. It's grand to read your words when I am away (and of course when I return).


  1. Nina, these are the most wonderful musings on your Parisian adventure with your daughters, spouses, and charming little S. What memory-making it all was. And your gardens, I cannot wait to take them in...better than even Paris!! xx

  2. It will be interesting, in the future, to see whether Snowdrop retains specific memories of this Paris trip at a young age. I'd think it's pretty likely she'll have a warm sense of attachment to the City of Light.

  3. Fantastic photos. The long spring and your hard work have made for show stopping gardens but then you are an artist in all your endeavors.


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