A happy, busy spring is happening here! I looked back at the last time I wrote here and realized that .. it’s been a long time.
The wisteria is covering our back patio and draping down the sides. Our garden has been tilled, tilled again, and planted. I go down and pick spinach leaves each evening before dinner and eat giant bowls of the stuff. Our chickens have been banished to their coop/yard since when they are let loose, they are drawn like moths to the flame to either our garden or Ben’s mom’s flowers. No matter. I have piles of scraps to bring them each day and it’s only for a short time. All of the fruit trees are full of fruit. We planted strawberries behind Ben’s mom’s house earlier this spring, and I go out almost every day to pluck weeds and check on progress. The kids are nearly always covered in dirt. I turned thirty-four; celebrated Mother’s Day with my sweet little ones and family from out of town. In an effort to use our tomatoes from last year before this year’s are being bucketed up from the garden, I have been making pasta sauce several times a week. I smash garlic in the bottom of the pot, add tomatoes and sugar and oil. Salt. Oregano. Simmer simmer. Boil pasta. Pass around that spinach. Bread – I have been setting aside time each day to mix, knead, rise, shape, rise, and bake. I used to make all of our bread and have recently realized that I would like to get back to that. I think it was the birth of Oliver that sent me scurrying to the store for bags of bread, but now I have a bit of extra time and I am enjoying the scent of bread baking each day. It roots me to home, makes my arms strong, and makes my heart happy to see tiny, dirt-streaked faces eating slices of the stuff on the front porch and ripping off pieces for the dog. We have camped in the yard; read books outside, and spent a great deal of time waving to neighbors from the porch swing. It has been a sweet spring.
I did a revolutionary thing recently. I cleaned out the closet that Ben and I share. I actually had a plastic garbage bag full of clothes in there, buried under some toys, kids’ clothes that need mending (but have long since been outgrown), and the bar that my shirts used to hang on, labeled: “Melissa. Sizes 6-8.” Yes. I know. Very funny. That was the first one that I dragged out to my van to be taken to the Goodwill. No sense living in the past. Besides, if I am ever in a size six again, I will probably want to buy my clothes somewhere besides Hot Topic. I got rid of all of the other clothes which no longer fit. I got rid of all of the t-shirts that Ben holds onto and insists are “good work shirts”, but that really should not have been brought into the new millennium. I got rid of kids’ clothes. Baby blankets that I was going to make a quilt out of. A box of breast milk freezer storage bags. A satchel that my mom bought me for Christmas when I was nineteen. What happens in the nineties should stay in the nineties, Dear. That’s what I told Ben when he spotted a tie dangling down the side of a garbage bag. Although I did make an allowance for his Bob Marley t-shirt. Anyway. After a trip to the Goodwill and several to the dumpster, I washed and hung up what we actually wear and vacuumed the closet floor, which now has nothing on it besides carpet. And I can tell you with absolute certainty that I actually do not have anything to wear.
I feel such a release of pent-up guilt in saying that. We’re going to a wedding tonight. I bought a new pair of pants (at the Goodwill .. someone else’s nineties cast-offs, perhaps?) and my conscience is clear – there was nothing else in that pile of garbage and sentimental baby gear and size small band t-shirts that I could have worn. And it was half-off clothing day at our Goodwill.
Anyway. Apart from vigorous closet-cleaning, we have spent ample time outside. I load up on allergy medicine and brave the pollen. Last night, Ben made a fire outside and I dug out some marshmallows. There are talks of camping out soon.
Spring. Each day is a marvel.
Life is humming along. School and church and friends. Food. Errands. Home. I’ve been laying on the porch swing, reading books. I’m feeling particularly grateful to spend my days in the way that I am able to. Ben made a slide for the boys’ bunk beds (as an alternative to the ladder, which I fell from at two a.m. a couple of weeks ago, by the way). The weather .. I could muster tears at any moment just thinking about the winter and how full of gratitude I am to have screen doors opening and smacking shut all day long and the sun shining on my face (although this is the year that I plan to be intentional about keeping the sun off of my face and wearing my straw hat while I’m outside). Ben and I tilled the garden over the past weekend. He and Libby planted asparagus, which seems to be a way of saying, “I plan to be here for a good, long time” (asparagus takes several years from the time you plant it until you’re able to harvest). We tilled up our old strawberry bed and replanted new strawberry plants. Ben and I are reading through the book of Acts together. Sometimes we chat about it. Sometimes we talk about politics or the book I’m reading or the business. I have taken for granted that we communicate well and that we enjoy being together. Marriage. So precious. We have been to the zoo (along with the rest of the tri-state area, apparently). The grass .. it has turned a startling emerald shade and tufts of it are puffing up higher than the rest. I am not nursing or pregnant this allergy season, glory be. I plan to take the best allergy medicine available. These are good, sweet, spring days. I lovingly greet each one that comes and fall asleep uttering prayers of thankfulness.
My girl. I always think she is so much like me; like I was. Today, I looked outside at her laying in warm sand, running her fingers through it, not caring one bit that it was becoming matted in her hair. I commented to Ben, “I never would have played in dirt when I was her age.” We both expressed gladness that she is at home outdoors. Anyway, around this time of year, when she has been lolling about in the sandbox each day for a couple of weeks, her freckles come out in full force. The freckles positively melt my heart.
On Monday, I was wondering when I would find time to start a new book with Libby that I was planning on reading aloud. “Here,” I said on a whim, handing her the book. “This is called ‘Follow My Leader’. Why don’t you give it a try?” She raised an eyebrow and said, “I don’t think I can read that. I can’t read whole books unless they’re Calvin and Hobbes.” I asked her to just give it a try and told her that if she felt like it was too much for her, I would read it aloud to her instead. She came back later to report that she liked it. “It was good,” she said. “So I read the first three chapters.” She is now on Chapter Eight and every day, we chat a bit about what is happening in the story.
And this man. I know. This look. But do not let the stare-down fool you. He is as kind as kind can be.
Outside, planting strawberries with his little admirers …
This week .. what a gift it has been. Taken in whole, and compared to the past three months, it has been impossibly perfect. I’ll take another just like it. We’ve done school, seen friends, fixed meals, read books, watched movies, gone to the zoo, baked brownies, and seen newborn lambs. Ben and I even left the kids with his mom for one evening and had dinner together, followed by a movie (in a theater! I was not in pajamas!). This week was like the rainbow after the storm. I am grateful. Even if it turns out that it was just the rainbow between storms.
Happy weekend to you!
Our neighbors’ sheep had two little lambs yesterday, and you’d better believe that this nerdy homeschool family did not waste any time getting down there to check things out. I’m always looking for new reasons to field questions from my children about afterbirth anyway. Ahem. In all seriousness, I enjoy the opportunity to let the animals teach some birds and bees lessons to my little ones as they are ready to learn. And the smell of wool and hay in the barn makes me dizzy with how amazing it is.
This lady is next ..