Thursday, April 30, 2015

A different kind of Thursday

There are, it turns out, many ways to enjoy great weather. I think I've already given a full and hearty endorsement to a breakfast in a sunny room!


And of course, working in a flower field would be a terrific way to acknowledge copious amounts of warm spring sunshine pouring down from the heavens today.

But as I drive from one grocery store to the next (weekly shopping day, a tad early because I needed dinner ingredients for tonight), I remind myself that most every adult person who is not yet retired has to take in the sunshine from inside her or his place of work. Lunch hour may create an opportunity to take in the wonderfulness of this last day of April (but feeling more like late May). You'll be grateful if you have that.

In fact, my day is spent mostly indoors. The shopping always takes forever and, too, I have a dinner to prepare. My daughter's good friend who, over the years has become a friend of the whole family is visiting from out of town and add to this merriment yet another friend who lives in Madison and I have, quite by coincidence, a kitchen full of women (and a little girl). (And Ed.)



Fresh spring produce (fava beans, English peas, California berries, etc etc) -- they're all great, but you have to work your fingers deftly around each kernel, each nugget and this takes time.

I do take a short outdoor break...


Just to water the pots and to take stock...

(my favorite of the daffodils)

(the cheepers come running)

(newly planted field)

Otherwise, I make do  with glancing outside from my kitchen windows, loving the display of sunshine that I see outside.

What's for dinner? Some new things to consider:

Poulet Crapaudine -- a chicken split down the back and flattened with your fist (and a couple of weights from my exercise bar!). It's a great way to get a crusty skin and also to roast a bird quickly! (It's excellent with pan fried potatoes.)


Next, there is spring salad of fava beans, English peas, French beans, corn and tomato -- all in a sherry dressing.


And finally a Raspberry Verrine -- a dessert served in a glass dish, so that you can admire the layers of creme patisserie (lightened with buttermilk), smashed raspberries, gingersnap cookies and of course, fresh berries throughout.




You think I'm neglecting Snowdrop, don't you... Not at all! Here she is, being very much in the swing of things!


I remind her that laughter and jovial banter are a good thing. Something to look forward to in life.


I think she already understands the power of friendship...


By now, the beautiful evening has drawn to a close. All the women and the little one have left. I put away one last dish.  It's suddenly very quiet. Of course, quiet is good. I let go of everything and get ready for the next day. And the next day surely will be as good as all the ones leading up to it, no?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


A few morning clouds in the sky put us a little closer to spring than summer. But that's fine! Why should we shorten this beautiful season? Why not give it its full run? Summer will come in due course. For now, let's enjoy what can only be enjoyed in April and May!




Breakfast is a bit hurried. I want to weed portions of the flower fields closer to the sheep shed. The raspberries, too, should get a once over. This is the way I move through the farmette -- from one field to the next, staying more or less (very more or less) in control of what goes on in each.


My schedule with Snowdrop is a little different this week. There are a lot of comings and going's in her home and I'm fitting things in around the rhythm of her house. I do spend a lovely afternoon with her...


...and we do a lot of the old...


...and some of the new.


And of course, it is warm and so a walk around the small lake is essential!


(passing the big lake)

(purple house, pink flowers)

In the evening, I have my monthly meet up with my small group of (mostly retired) law school buddies and once that draws to a close, the day is done.

It is amazing to me that the longer daylight hours seem too short right now. In winter we make do with so much less and now, with the abundance of sunshine and with the long twilight that lasts past the dinner hour, we're spoiled, wanting it to go on and on until we're spent and it's time for bed.

Is it really the end of April already? Amazing!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

bucolic, cont'd

Another beautiful day with no raw spots, no edgy moments, no tedium, no frustration. Brilliant, sunny, warm and full of possibilities.

I suppose I must admit that it almost did not turn out that way. We started off just fine -- with a beautiful breakfast in the sun room (still too cool in the morning for the porch)...


...and then Ed set out to repair the roof. Now, I appreciate the fact that Ed will try to repair most things himself. I do love this about him and I admire his determination to teach himself anything he needs to get through life -- from figuring out the Tax Code to learning how to install and then replace a water pump or a portion of a fallen roof. I bow down with deference and respect to that kind of patience and fortitude, I do. But seeing him position a ladder on a sloping portion of the roof in order to reach an even higher piece of the roof, then watching it slip as he totters on it, watching him try again, with the same dangers still in place -- well, that takes some degree of calm belief in good outcomes that I can't say I always bring to the table.

When Ed works on something dangerous, I typically hide and do my own thing, listening carefully for that wail that would surely come if he fell and snapped his spine in many uneven fragments. But when he is on the roof, I need to be close by so that I can pass up tools or dropped items. So you could say these were tense moments. But, the dislocated roof pieces were successfully attached and life, thank God, moved on in that gentle way I described at the beginning of the post.

I nearly complete planting the new flower field...


And I work on filling the flower tubs with annuals. The cheepers are mostly cooperative and not even too intrusive. I say "mostly" because there is a caveat here too, but it does not come to pass until later in the afternoon, when Snowdrop is here for her Tuesday visit.

She is, by the way, totally awesome today! There is not even a shadow of a grumpy mood.

(giggling: is the poulet tickling her ear?)

(I put on her bandana bib in preparation for "lunch")

I think Ed would agree that this is a baby who knows how to chill...



(Her newest acrobatic skill is to roll back and forth from her back to the side. She loves it, is good at it and if there's an audience (me!) rooting for her -- so much the better!)


Ed and I take her for a very long walk -- all the way to the bike trail and beyond..



We work our way back through the truck farmers' fields, where, too, another grandma is keeping an eye on her granddaughter!


And back at the farmette (and here comes the caveat!), I want Ed to take a photo of Snowdrop amidst the annuals on the picnic table. The cheepers are under the table and this is when Oreo decides to go after my shoe. Peck, jab, peck.


Ah, but wait! Ed hands me the water machine gun and I squirt the old feathered fiend! It's so satisfying! Kicking, hitting, screaming, petting, feeding -- none of this worked in the past, but the spray of water sends him scurrying! Sweet, sweet revenge!

And so I have no bad words for this day. It is so utterly beautiful, so exhilarating, even with all caveats. During the short, cold winter days, remind me of this moment. It's worth waiting for! (Snowdrop agrees!)


(cherry in the old orchard)

Monday, April 27, 2015


If what follows is a string of posts that have one theme and one theme only, forgive me. We have a set of sunny days, warm days, blossoming days and life this week takes on that sweetness that reads like a gentle book -- a feel good book, with the same old story, one that you hope you never have to put down.

The cheepers are in that same springtime trance. Oreo's rough edges remain well concealed and the pack moves from favorite spot to favorite spot, sometimes getting bread from me...


...sometimes getting nothing at all except a dose of the familiar.

After breakfast...


...I go to a local greenhouse that I think has the best assortment of annuals. I am confident that the good weather is here to stay. I want to start filling my flower tubs.


Today I just look and pick a few small containers. In the days ahead, I'll return to planting.

(cheepers! get off the alyssum and pansies!)

(ready to plant)

Then, of course, there's that wonderful afternoon I spend with Snowdrop, whose nickname now is but a reminder of the month of her birth. She is the flower that never fades, never loses its petals. She just keeps on going!


... rewarding me with fist-in-mouth smiles.


We go for a walk around the lake with her mom and this, too, is lovely, effortless...

("oh, go ahead, grandma... take the photo!")

And finally, back at her home, we sing. I swear, mouthing words with big vowels really gets that girl going! Her attempt at imitation is beautiful!


Evening at the farmhouse. The cheepers move slowly toward the coop. It's quiet. There is a smell of fresh growth. Of cherry blossoms and new strawberry shoots. And it will continue, tomorrow and the next day. Utterly bucolic.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


There is brilliant, warm sunshine outside (and it's slated to be with us all week long)! It's a sign! Most obviously, it's a sign that the growing season is truly upon us. Typically I do not feel confident about putting things that aren't hardy (yet) into the ground until mid May, but looking at the weather maps gives me confidence. We're to have a real heat wave by the end of the week. I can start planting!

That clear sky (and a good night's sleep) also gives us a bit more clarity in the vision that Ed and I have for our travel adventure (together at last!) in July. The short list of possibilities gets severely slashed: Nova Scotia? Out it goes! No long range hikes with wilderness camping (that is not so wild as to send chills up my spine). Long flight connections. (Me, I was pushing for it: imagine all the lobster shacks lining the waterfront!) Maine -- another cross out. Too wild (in the mountains), too busy and private by the southern coast. Too many ripples in the water and dangerous swells and sea tides for kayaking (by my estimation). And so we cross off and toss out ideas, until finally we are left with just one  -- something we keep coming back to. Something that appeals to us at some level (as you can imagine -- different levels for the both of us).

I'll let it dangle like that for now. After all, we may wake up tomorrow and cancel yet again. Or we'll go. And while I have the floor, let me assure you, I'm making far more compromises to reach a common ground! Far more! (If Ed had the floor, he would say the exact opposite.)

Alright. New flights booked, old ones cancelled. Several calls to distant places to make sure what we want (what Ed really wants -- again, I have the floor!) actually does exist. And then we put it all aside for another day. Finessing the details need not happen until later.

And now is the time to take out the shovel and dig up the garden -- both in the new flower field and, too, to rework portions of the old ones a bit. I have not one, but TWO water pistols (one looks more like a water machine gun) to keep Oreo at bay, but honestly, since his day away with the chicken mama, he's been rather less feisty.

Immediately after breakfast...


I go out to work the soil in the new flower field. (The cheepers follow. Oreo does too, but a little to the side of the action.)




Picking out new plants and putting them into the ground then spraying them with a hose to settle them in -- this is the gardening routine that I love best. All the preparing, weeding, clipping -- all that is just background noise to the wonderful act of pushing something new into the soil, firming the dirt and stepping back to let nature do its magic.

(last year's expanded field)

(the beloved farmhouse, reflecting the blue sky)

In the evening, the young couple comes over, along with a friend, and with Snowdrop for a Sunday dinner at the farmhouse. A vegetarian meal tonight: roasted asparagus and radish, porcini mushroom and red wine risotto. I just get a wee glimpse and a brief cuddle with the baby. Snowdrop has plenty of doting hands to comfort her when the going gets tough!





Such a beautiful day... Inch by inch, row by row...