Saturday, September 22, 2018

Goodbye Summer

I do not care much for summertime (although I do love September).  I suppose that's not exactly the most popular opinion these days. And I also suppose that if I were writing this blog post in late February, rather than late September, I'd be more hesitant to make such a statement. But it is not February and right now, all I can think about is just how weary the summers make me.

When you grow much of your own food, and process it, summer means more work.  A lot more. The long days of sunshine bring twelve or more hours of activity, and by season's end, I am wore out. Rising early and squeezing the most out of every moment before sunset, I parcel my day out into pieces. This summer, in particular, was a challenge, as I added some part-time biologist work (away from home) to an already heavy load.  Tom traveled more than usual on business this summer, and homeschooling, summer camps, and a couple of short family trips filled in the gaps.  Together, we all made it work, and we have a lot to show for our efforts, but I am ready for the season to end.

Right now, at the moment that I write this, I am part of a perfect, universal balance...the autumnal equinox. Beyond this day, there will be more darkness which, for me, brings more rest. Six months from now, the balance will be struck again, and I will feel the anxiety and hurriedness that comes with each extra hour of sunlight. But not today. Today, I celebrate a productive harvest and all that summer brought, but most of all, I celebrate the fact that for a few months to come, I no longer have to keep up.

Happy First Day of Autumn!

looking for potato bugs
chamomile harvesting
sweet potato slips under the jugs
a natural beauty we found in the woods (yellow fringed orchid)
conquering a fear of the water slide
when you forget your swim clothes, you swim anyway

school on the front porch and breaking beans
capturing the morning sunshine full-faced
a furry friend I found while working
too many cucumbers. again.

a sign of summer's end.

and another sign...he just turned two.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Saving the Strawberries (My Take on the Church Scandal)

I've got a new post up at Peanut Butter & Grace, if you'd like to check it out. We're all reading the news about the latest scandal in the church. Like many, I'm very disturbed about it all. However, I remain optimistic that better days are ahead for our church. I need only to look at my children and the many faithful Catholic bloggers and young adults that I know to believe that. If you are interested in doing something in reparation for the sins within our church, check out Kendra Tierney's blog at Catholic All Year.  I will be joining her and many others in small penitential acts and prayer that will hopefully bear beautiful fruit.  Mary, Queen of Heaven, pray for us.


I stared at the grass growing tall in the raised bed in the corner of my garden and tried to find the motivation to start over.  Three years ago, this same raised bed had produced plump, juicy, red strawberries that my sons would squabble over as they picked their way through the leaves to find the biggest one. But that was three years ago, and now, as I stood staring at it, this bed of strawberries looked only like a patch of weeds, and I had no one to blame but myself.  {Read the rest here.}

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Let The Day Begin

It’s 5:00 a.m. when I hear the baby crying.  The house is still dark, with only a hint of light on the horizon. Yet, it is still enough to excite the wood thrush, and I listen for a second as he wakens the world with his flute-like melodies. “Ee-Oo-Lay!” over and over it repeats, music to my ears.  No human has yet achieved what the wood thrush has mastered for centuries, i.e., the ability to produce two sounds at once, creating a duet of harmonies echoing with all their breath through their vocal chambers.  So much music from such a small and fragile creature.

The baby is frightened, of what I do not know.  I cuddle him a bit, change his diaper, and he gazes at me with a grin.  All is well now, and he is ready to play.  But it is still 3 hours from his regular waking time, and I know the consequences it will bring if I let myself be enticed by that playful smile and those eager eyes.  I carry him back to his dark room, lay him gently in his crib, and stroke his forehead.  He whimpers a bit, knowing what is next, but does not fight.  He, too, I think, knows that now is not the time for play.  He closes his eyes and I gently shut the door.

The house is still now, and other than the baby, I am the only one in it. The rest of my family is scattered.  One son at Grandma’s next door, where he spent the night probably staying up too late and eating too much popcorn.  One son 400 miles away, in St. Louis, visiting old friends with his Daddy and having big adventures with his grandparents while Daddy works.  Tomorrow, Lord willing, we will all be reunited again, but for now, it is just me and the morning and the wood thrush.

I head out to the garden, baby monitor in one pocket, pocket knife in the other.  The garden has been neglected for a week and the crab grass and squash bugs now have the advantage.  I open the gas tank on the tiller.  There isn’t much gas in it and I debate whether or not to add more.  However, it is a long walk back to the garage to get the gas can, and so I say a little prayer that there will be just enough, set the choke, and yank the pull cord hard.  The tiller coughs and sputters but finally starts. 

As I work my way down the rows, I get lost in my thoughts.  Seeing the weeds overtaking my row of flowers gives me a story idea.  In many moments of my days, there is a story idea, but I rarely follow their leads.  Perhaps this one will be different. 

The green beans hang from vines, ready to be picked, but not today. Time is running out, the baby will awake again soon.  I shuttle the tiller back to the shed, running on fumes.  One prayer answered already, and the day has just begun.  I close the garden gate and walk through the cobwebs down the wooded path, back to the house.  The spiders waste no time each night rebuilding their walls of web and waiting for an unsuspecting gnat or, in my case, human, to blunder into them.  I pass our little statue of the Blessed Mother and notice that the flowers in the Mason jar have turned brown.  With only a minute to spare, I backtrack to the field, pull out the pocket knife, and pick a hasty bouquet of Queen Anne’s lace and Black-eyed Susans.  Returning to the statue, I tuck the flowers into their jar and tell her good morning.  Her arms, always open, give me a spiritual hug.  I look at the three graves around her, nearly covered with summer-growing vines, and imagine her standing with my three children, arms around them, waiting for me. 

The sun is above the trees now and I can feel the heat of the day pushing hard against the edge of morning. I step up onto the front porch, pull off my boots and look east.  The wood thrush is silent now and will sing no more today.  Let the day begin.