“As writers and educators, we see that simplicity unfolds much like fruit trees emerging from the armored dormancy of winter: first green tips of leaves appear, then diaphanous blossoms spread their wings and, finally, pale green fruit ripens into a cherry or peach or apple.”
—Frank Levering & Wanda Urbanska
I’ve been meaning to post more, honest. But everything that’s been going on since we got here…the unpacking, the search for a babysitter, the quest for the right food, the meeting of new friends, the farmer’s market Saturday mornings, the trips with Little Guy to the library, the planting of the garden, the cooking (lots and lots of that), the finishing of a couple of writing projects…all of it has just gotten in the way again, somehow. As usual.
So I’ve been very busy, but in a good way. The garden is coming along beautifully. It is tiny, as yet, but I have in six tomato plants, some cucumbers, a rosemary plant, and several basil plants. I also have seeded two kinds of heirloom carrots for my fall garden, and have heirloom kale, spinach, and broccoli seeded in flats on the porch, hopefully to be transferred into the ground (much of which is not yet broken) around the end of next month. Chinese garlic chives will go in as soon as I get time. When I began getting my hands dirty here, I realized that I had never known what it was to work with soil that was not either red clay, or a mass of rocks. This dirt is absolutely fantastic. I’m no expert, but it’s soft, pretty dark, and easy to work with, with scarcely a rock to be found. All of my plants are thriving in their sunny spot on the other side of the back yard, and I am actually getting a tiny bit brown from my afternoons spent gardening in the sun while Little Guy naps.
Of course, in addition to what I am growing, we have our wonderful local farmer’s markets. This past Saturday, I spent a leisurely forty-five minutes at the downtown market, examining the stalls and talking with the vendors. The flower man wanted to know what I did with the absolutely huge bunch of basil I bought from him last week; so I told him about lining the tops of my kitchen cabinets with waxed paper for herb-drying, and about making herbed butter from my own freshly made butter and his basil. Another farmer looked down at me as I finished sorting through his purple-hulled beans and started in on the okra bin, and said, “You know, you’re awfully young to eat the way you do. You’re one in a million.” I think it was the nicest compliment I’ve gotten in a long time. After I bought my okra and beans, I headed down to my favorite vendor (whose name I still don’t know), to chat for a while and buy some of the special low-acid tomatoes that Little Guy loves and that (amazingly!) do not upset his stomach. This particular vendor, an older gentleman who has sold at market here for twenty-five years, is one of the most pleasant people I have ever met. He and his wife used to come to market together…he would prepare the farm’s produce for sale, while she presided over her baked and canned goods. She passed away two years ago, but the market-goers still speak fondly of her; and while the baked goods have fallen by the wayside, her husband still stays up nights doing the canning according to her recipes, and putting her name on the labels. I have tried a few different jars from him, and have to say that between them, he and his wife have come up with a mean green tomato relish. I told him Saturday how much Hubby and I loved it, and his smile lit up the whole place.
This morning, Little Guy and I made a quick trip into Amish/Mennonite country. I was after milk, cream, chicken, and sorghum flour….he was after farm animal stickers and a tiny chirping stuffed chick he had seen on our last excursion. We both found everything we were looking for, and a few more things besides. I watched Little Guy’s face light up when the bonneted woman behind the cash register showed him how to work his chirping chick, and she and I both laughed as he imitated it…”Chirp! chirp! chirp! said the chick!” (He has a tendency to say things in narrative format…)
While driving on the way home, I narrowly missed hitting one of the most beautiful butterflies I’ve ever seen, and felt my momentary guilt surge into relief and joy as I saw it fly away into the trees bordering the nearby farm. And I remembered the news from a week and a half ago about the young Amish girl from the area who was killed when a car crashed into her family’s buggy. I wondered about the true value of a society so fast paced that we obliterate butterflies without a thought, and can’t seem to slow down for those who choose to live life at a slower (perhaps healthier?) pace than ourselves.
We passed a field, and saw a tiny Mennonite boy cantering round and round on what appeared to be a Shetland pony.
Then we went home. I was tempted to say…we left the idyll and went home to suburbia, but really that wouldn’t be true. Because when we got home, we made pimento cheese sandwiches (on gluten-free bread) and ate them along with fresh peaches in the sun on the back porch. After that, we sat and drew letters and talked about their sounds. I did some cleaning and gardening this afternoon, then tonight after dinner baked gluten-free chocolate chip cookies and sat around the table sharing laughs, cookies, and milk with my boys. Little Guy and I giggled uproariously over some of his favorite books before bedtime, and as he was falling asleep, he called me into his room. I asked what he wanted, and he said he wanted to hold me. So I lay down next to him, and he asked for a song. I sang about talking to the angels, dancing on moonbeams, and peaceful worlds until he was almost asleep.
And now I think I will finish the dishes and make Hubby’s lunch for tomorrow. And then, maybe, I’ll pour a big glass of wine, go curl up on the futon in our study/spare room/guest room/storage room, and read till I fall asleep.
Sounds pretty idyllic to me.