Friday, May 12, 2017


Not long ago, I realized that I know the land too well here. I know every plant I ever brought in and I remember many that I deeply regretted putting in (invasive beasts!). I know how the light works its way across the courtyard and how this changes dramatically with each season. I know where the soil, enriched by composted chips, hides layers of gravel which criss-crossed the land when this was once a working farm. I know what I must do to make each flower field healthy and strong. I know where the raspberries send off their root systems. I know where the cheepers like to dig. I know where the humming birds hang out and where the groundhog likes to set up his summer condominium. I know where bramble loops over the prairie and where dry pine needles add a special scent to the air.

And I know that this week, the farmette is at her gentlest, prettiest, sweetest and most beguiling, as if the season of mosquitoes, or of deep freeze, or of mice in the farmhouse, or backed up septic systems -- as if those challenges were trite nothings, because now we have our reward, our period of sheer pleasure.

This is how it feels to live here now: I am attached to the farmette as deeply as if I had lived here all my life. Ed and I try to be good stewards, stumbling, heaving, planning, digging, even as we know that we could do so much more. But not too much more, because the beauty of this place for us is in part in its tussled face, where it is never exactly right, never fully articulated, not tidy, not well groomed. It is its own story of joyous chaos.

It's Friday and so we are both in a hurry: I must grocery shop, he must attend to his machining projects. Still, even before breakfast, I struggle to create a space for that peony that made its way here last night. The soil is rocky, clayish, gravelish, awful. It takes many minutes of hammering away at it to get the spot ready. But I'm not complaining. This is what I can give to this land: my work, my sweat, my effort.

Besides, when I look up, I see the lilac, hugging the corner of the porch.

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And of course, the falling petals of the crabs.

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Now, I have to say this one detail about my photos (and perhaps you've noticed this on your own): they don't shy away from repeating a vignette. Just because you've seen a graceful clump of white narcissus yesterday, doesn't mean you wont see it again today. If something thrills you a few days in a row, do you turn your back, just because you were made happy by it in the past? Of course not!

Today's narcissus:

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And the new tulips that almost look like miniature peonies!

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Time to go in for breakfast. (The cheepers follow, always full of hope!)

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Unfortunately, this morning we cannot linger. Just a handful of minutes!

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Oh, just a few more!

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Alright. We disperse.

And after my Friday shopping chores, I go to pick up Snowdrop, who again picnicked with her class out in their playground. As I come in, she is madly and with utter joy racing a trike between tires.

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But she is also happy to be going with me for our adventure. Yesterday I dragged along the stroller even as she walked the whole way. Today I think I'm so clever in asking her -- do you want me to leave the stroller in the car so that we can walk?

She says -- yes! I want to walk!

And she does. And we stop constantly to admire everything! (She loves the name "forget-me-nots"!)

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(I'm grateful to this corner lot which is rarely mowed and always full of things to admire.)

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When we approach the coffee shop, she once more asks to get a treat. I've said no all week long and indeed, even today I have packed a snack for her, but on an impulse, I reconsider. It's Friday! It's a glorious day! Let's sit out for a minute at the coffee shop porch and enjoy it!

(Snowdrop picks a doughnut, which is a tad too sweet for my liking, but the little one is always quite satisfied after just a few bites.)

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Yes, she is eyeing the playground. Yes, Snowdrop. You can go on the swing.

And of course, all this just tires her out. When I say it's time to get back to the car (parked at her school), she begs to be carried.

We compromise. I carry her for a block. She then walks for a block. I carry her a bit more. She walks for a bit more. Lesson learned: an energetic "yes, let's walk!" does not take into account an already full day of activity. A stroller, just in case, is never a bad idea.

But as always, at the farmette, she is revived and ready to take on.... the sandbox!

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However am I going to get her out?  I'm thinking that she should be napping. It's so late in the afternoon! Luckily this day, this weather, this everything is making her so agreeable. We transition to something else:
Want to hose down your feet and hands and water the strawberries? 

(I explain to her that we've had to put on netting to keep the chipmunks away -- they've been trying their darndest to get to the pots.)

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We make our way back to the farmhouse.
Look gaga! I'm on the balance beam!
Stretch out your arms! It's easier that way!
(She does. Straight up!)

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Inside, I give her just a few minutes to play. And to read. (My daughters reminded me about this book from their childhood. I found it at a used book place.)

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She is instantly attached to it. All those cousins and aunts and uncles! All those children, heading to grandma's! In the book, the young families gather from the five boroughs of New York to visit the grandparents who reside in lower Manhattan.

A home is not made better or worse by where you live. I remember once liking Manhattan. Still, in May, the farmette is an effervescent bubble of sheer magic. That it's my home now and therefore, by extension, my family's home is nothing short of sublime.