Archive for March, 2009

March Harvest Notes

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

I have until midnight to get nostalgic about this delicious month.  The best yield thus far has come from the beets, but the cauliflower wins the prize for dramatic impersonations of Godzilla or your Japanese monster of choice.  I simply walked by one day a few weeks ago, looked down and there was this huge head of cauliflower peeking out at me.  Either I had not been in the garden enough, or this plant simply flowers overnight.  It’s hard to miss a flower head that is two feet across!  OK I exaggerate, but they are prodigious, and heavy.  Seth could barely lift the thing, and this is saying a lot.  Seth is one of the strongest humans I know.

Seth took this photo of me.  I like this photo because I look like one of the early 20th century ancestors I have been archiving photos of.  The overexposed mid day sun look is so common in the old photos.  The distant gaze is also indicative of the era.  I like to think all those people were gazing fondly at a child or the family dog.

Seth likes to dig in this funny corner behind the potted bergamot trees.  It’s very dusty back there and home to an unfortunately dry green man and other expired plant life.  It is an unappealing spot to an adult gardener, but to a child it is digging heaven.  It’s Seth’s equivalent to the secret garden.  He calls it his “private digging place”.  He has a lot of digging places, but only one “private one”.  It is poorly named because although a bit secret from the side it is definitely not so secret from above.

The other day Francis told me that he calls the little picket fenced area beyond the big fence “the secret garden of the world”.  I thought this was an apt description.  You access it from an almost invisible gate in the fence.  There is no gate out of the picket fence that surrounds the persimmon tree.  Yet everyone can see you playing and you can watch the world go by.  Kids love spaces like this.  I always find the kids playing joyfully in “the secret garden of the world”, because after all who wants to be cooped up behind fences all day?  We are social creatures and what’s not to love about watching people frequenting the corner store, observing the officer handing out stop-sign-running tickets and hanging out with the young man selling strawberries.  All of this “secret” outside world experience bathed in the yellow and orange of happy calendulas.

Daily Seth takes a handful of calendula petals tosses them in the air and yells, “celebration”.  Last week he picked a pint of petals for our class picnic salad.  All we needed was a few flowers worth, but Seth took it upon himself to stock up a whole party’s worth.  Calendulas are something you can never have enough of, especially with kids around.

Today Seth was eating snap peas that Martina gave him.  On the way home he asked me if these were the type of peas we are growing in our garden.  Oh how my heart soared.  I explained that we were growing edible peas and sweet peas together.  I explained that the colored sweet peas we cut for flowers, yet we leave the white snap peas so that pods can form.  When we got home he saw a white flower on the vines, but refrained from picking it.  Every bit of planting, growing and harvesting knowledge he digests is a miracle to me.  Learning to provide for his own body and soul is a mother’s hope fulfilled.

The Intoxicating Season

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

During other seasons of the year I reflect on spring in disbelief.  I marvel at the effect it has on me and vow not to succumb to such animated distraction the next year.  It’s easy to stay rational in those jaded dry months.  But sure enough, when blossoms flit, cabbages bolt and new leaves burgeon I can’t renew that vow.

The fever pitch of spring is intoxicating.  It’s almost impossible for me to stay put when there is compost to be organized, seeds to be planted, perennials to be fertilized.  The list goes on and on.  Everything modern stops for spring.    It is impossible not to heed the call of industrious outdoor work.  Hard work is never as blissful as in spring time.  Exhaustion at the end of the day is always sweetest in the name of the garden.

Spring is ridiculous.  Just the right temperatures, humidity and waltzing cloud cover can make you want to breed.  Even after a long tedious winter of fussy offspring, hectic school schedules, 5 o’clock darkness and the like, the most level-headed among us consider a second or third baby.  Spring makes us crave the corn silk hair and faithful coo of a dependent.  It blinds us to the colic and potty training and we fondly reexamine the miracle of life.*

Spring causes me to loose me entirely.  I let go of the individual that I’ve spent all winter cultivating and join spirits with the life around me.  Spring encourages me to forget optimizing, scrutinizing and self preservation.  It offers me hope that a new growing/living season abounds.

Lastly spring is just so lustrous.  I mean how much shiner and appealing could these beet greens be?  And how demure this Lenten Rose with it’s graphic composition and promising buds?  Everything is so satiny and new.  I know that my skin no longer ever looks this way on the outside, but spring makes me feel this way on the inside.

* This is just me musing.  I am not pregnant.

Fund Raising

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

Last Night was our preschool fund raiser. The theme was “A Night Under the Big Top”.  Props to all my crew Shiloh, Cathy, Melissa and Glen!  There was some debate about the impact of the “ring of fire”, but frankly I thought it rocked and really set the tone.  And don’t forget to check out the book case by the Pecks in the first photo.  Cathy’s dad made it, Cathy painted it and it sold for 700 bucks!

My individual contribution was the signs.  Either I am getting older or I’m simply out of practice, because after a few days of making signs I was exhausted.  Drawing and painting that much made me feel as if I had run a marathon (I don’t remember feeling this tired in college).  Needless to say, kicking back on the deck and drinking a beer with my carpool partner could not have been sweeter.

Cathy picked up a book of old circus posters from the library.  I really liked the graphic quality of this tiger.  However, my favorite process was mimicking the old fashioned wood block letters on the big signs.  The inspiration for the play structure came on Tuesday when Martina was sick and I took the boys to school.  The food sign worked out really well.  Almost as well as Chef Willie’s yummy treats.  Although I have to say my favorite was the caramel corn – thanks Lori Rose!

This is Betty Peck and her husband.  Betty founded our school in the 1950’s.  I love the fact that they come to the auction every year.  She gave a lovely speech that said in short – the greatest gift is to see the seed that you planted blooming before your eyes.  Hanging around Betty makes me feel like a part of something much larger.  She has made such a profound impact on so many important people in my life.  I can’t thank her enough.

OK – I’m not done yet.  Aimee your chicken shirts rock!  Marie, Poppy and Tallulah really take one for the team pretty much everyday.  We can’t thank them enough for their patience and forbearance of beak.  Immortalizing them on a t shirt was a great idea and the execution was perfect.  Speaking of perfect, I have send one last nod your way on the kissing guinea pigs – well done!

And of course, the star of the party Hansen #3 Cutest Littlest Sister ever!  Forget the signs, look at those adorable chubby cheeks!  I hope we roped in the dough, because myself and many others sure put the love out there.

The New Life Continuum

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

This morning our patched together house hold got up early and took a field trip to Cliff’s horse stables.  I learned how to hitch the trailer which Mattie pointed out is a transfer of family information that far surpasses any other information that Charlie could possibly impart (such as genealogy).  We all piled in the one SUV shared by the entire extended family and headed to the last open space in the city of San Jose.  Cliff bless his heart loaded the trailer with his lovingly turned year old composted manure, and taught me how to back up a trailer.

At about the same time Chris was in the throws of labor.  Elyse was born at 11:35 am.  These broad leaves sort of say it all.  This is a common weed growing in the Queen Anne’s lace, but gosh I have never seen leaves to expansive.  There is nothing like another new cousin to welcome in the spring.  We are rich in newborns – a rough position to be in I know.   They are each a blessing, each and every one of them.  Another life that will unravel around us.  Another joy to buoy my heart.

The horses were fantastic.  There are about 50 horses stabled here.  Each one has so much character.  Cliff was showing CJ’s horse to someone.  We learned that if you skritch a horse in the lee of the neck the horse will calm down, because this is where mama horses nibble on their babies.  I’m sure horse people know this, but  we were blinded by first timer wonder.  Cliff is a real cowboy.  The family is getting rid of this horse, black beauty becasue he/she is not comfortable with “roping”.  Not an issue I will have with any of the animals I share my life with, but a pretty valid concern when you are raising cowboys (Cliff has 4 comming up the ranks).

Look at that soft fuzzy nose!

The entrance bridge to the ranch crosses a real creek (I think this is Coyote Creek).  After a good tour of the horses Seth was ready to see the ducks again.  He “operated” the water for a while, then played Pooh Sticks, and eventually settled on surfing his necklace on the rapids.  Nothing like a creek around which one can be a little boy.  Note to self, we must do more time by running water!

Receiving the gift of carefully tended compost focused us for the spring ahead.  There is noting like a load of compost to galvanize everyone in a household to get the garden in order and prepare for the growing season ahead.  Not only does it give us a project to work on together, it brings out the joy in our hearts.  Many thanks to Cliff and his horses!

Advice for Expectant Mothers

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Scenario:  Seth has taken a break from his endless firefighting dramatizations to nurse two of his four baby dolls.  He is laying down covered in blankets patiently nursing when this exchange happens…

Seth:  You know mommy, I am pregnant.

Alis:  Oh, when are you due?

Seth:  Well what I need to *do* is eat alot of food!