Monday, April 27, 2015

In a World so Filled

Earth Day every day. It is what I hope to instill in my children probably more than any other particular thing, besides love in general. I change the songs I learned in church as a child into songs about Mother Earth. We play outside every day, we lean close and pay attention: bugs, birds, the deer traipsing through, the baby one with his tiny antler buds, the work of raccoons who came in the night, footprints, scattered compost. Decomposition, the forms of clouds, what is sprouting out of the ground, what the ants are carrying, the way the doves flap off together in a group with a presence both magical and mundane. It almost feels disingenuous to write it down, because it's not like it's something I pat myself on the back about, it's not like it's hard to spend time this way: it's what I love, what we all love, and it makes parenting a breeze while we can devote ourselves outdoors.

I am proud when Lucy asks me the names of flowers, birds, trees. Oftentimes I don't know, I'll say let's check with Joey, he knows his evergreens or she'll say, "We can ask Nana, Nana knows trees." Both girls love to dig and plant. To examine roly-poly bugs and visit with ladybugs. Today Polly had a terrible run-in with a red ant hill. By the time I got to her in a matter of moments, they were already crawling all over her and had stung her behind her neck, on her back and arms. She stopped crying as soon as I picked her up though, and as soon as we got her dress off she was pointing out more ants and blowing them kisses with her big wide "Muh!"  She doesn't hold it against them. Nature is chaotic and wild, can be unpredictable. Maybe she gets that.

We've been waiting for the poppies with relish. I got worried when I noticed a month or so ago that there seemed to be less of their big furry leaves in the patch near the rock wall, that there were far fewer of their fuzzy little heads peeking up than in years past. It's been dry of course (drought, drought, drought...) so I carefully weeded around them and even gave them a sprinkling of gray water once. And here they are! Yesterday there were two, today there were five. It's gonna be quite a week!

waiting for rain.

We went to a little Earth Day celebration at the library. Met a pygmy owl named Dusty who was rescued and rehabilitated by Sierra Wildlife Rescue but still cannot fly. Lucy got a little bee and a butterfly painted on her hands. Then we came back to our backyard to put in time with the real thing. Hear the quails call greetings to their clans and see the doves flutter at dusk. The bees swarming the plum trees and the lavender. I may not be very good at gardening or wildcrafting (yet!) but I am good at paying attention and feeling grateful.

It brings me back to the Romantics, to my old starstruck idols, Wordsworth and Coleridge, their lyrical ballads, their rhapsody in nature, the divinity they find in the earth around us. Coleridge's rhapsody to the wind blowing over an Eolian harp, dreaming of the way the wind touches all of nature and finds a common song.

"O the one life within us and abroad.
Which meets all motion and becomes its soul,
A light in sound, a sound-like power in light,
Rhythm in all thought, and joyance everywhere -- 
Methinks it would have been impossible
Not to love all things in a world so filled" 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Born in the Month of Poetry

We celebrated Emmy's 27th birthday on a glorious April day. I thought about her mom that day, as white clouds sailed across a cool blue sky and wildflowers bloomed in every corner of the green green earth, and thought, she must have known that she was bringing forth a very special one that day.

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

Morning celebration: Emily and I took the girls for a little coffee date at the Argonaut and a spring walk down to the river. 

To honor her treasured aunt, Lucy wore a little dress that was Emily's as a girl.

Waving at kayakers floating by, Scout is so engaged, curious, passionate, excited by the goings-on of the world. A product of her parents indeed.

A maiden and a mother and a crone, no boundaries on this soul, a woman who can talk to anyone and make them feel important, a born storyteller, art maker, empath, romantic, kitchenwitch, mama.

The girls got semi naked and dipped in toes and feet and hands, threw their pebbles and splashed their sticks. They would've gone for a real swim if I'd let them, even in the iciest water.
We had a little visit from a curious friend. Lucy said she was a mama goose.

Back at the cafe the fiddlers had set up and children were dancing. Lucy had to roll down the hill a few times before we hit the road.

Sweet afternoon post-nap baby snugs, tickles, loves.

And then in the evening we all got together at Jack Russell Brewery for picnic food and blackberry ale, chasing romping babes, and just good togetherness. 

The birthday girl with her own best girl, two little peas in a pod.

I'm so proud that baby brother got such a damn fine family going.

Elsie came straight from working Passport Weekend at Lava Cap, in full regalia, tipsy, with funny stories and sass to beat the band.

living large.

This photo serves as the one and only indication that Lucy would be sick with a fever that next day and then take the whole next week or so to recover. Still, no regrets!

We had the most full and blossoming, wonderful day celebrating Emmy. She is a rare treasure on this earth and I am blessed every day to be her sister and friend. What I love most about her is how she contains multitudes, how she is at once playful and intensely wise, how she knows things almost before you say the words, before the thing itself happens, she is skipping one step ahead in this universe and she is a flying star.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Teeter Totter

Somewhere along the way playgrounds changed drastically. I remember so many fun things from parks and playgrounds of my own youth that don't seem to exist anymore. This dawned on me slowly, as I would look at Richard Scarry or other picture books with the girls and find myself explaining that there is another type of merry-go-round, at parks, a big metal wheel that you just hang onto while kids or parents spin it. That there is such a thing as a seesaw, it goes up and down, a kid on each side, that it helps you learn about balance and gravity and the power of your own body. Since this dawned on me I'm on a hunt everywhere I go for a real true old-fashioned playground. 

Well in our little neighboring town, good old Jackson, CA (where we go mostly for the bookstore and thrift stores) we found a teeter totter! Lucy was so excited to try it out. Polly isn't quite big enough to balance her out though, so I had to help. The girls had so much fun pushing up with their legs and going "Up! and DOWN!" Even Polly learned those words.

This playground even had a big lion head drinking fountain, which is definitely a big giant red alert of playground coolness.

and a geodesic dome climbing structure, seems to be an updated take on an old classic, which I can appreciate.

It had the standard 2-5 year old big, safe, plastic play area too. I can get behind that, if the odds and ends are there too. The seesaw and the metal slide. The various types of swings, the big old wooden fort, the climbing bars and tether ball. I don't expect a park to have them all, but I also don't expect my kids to be perfectly, unquestionably SAFE all the time. It's just not the nature of childhood. 

This park also had a lovely wooden bridge across the creek, and some girls were playing with their mom's crutches down below, which had my babes fascinated.

We then headed to cute little Sutter Creek for ice cream in an old fashioned parlour and another visit to a park, complete with three more bridge crossings! 

(yes, I took a break from my effort toward veganism that day)

I wore my favorite vintage Contempo Casual yellow skirt, a white eyelet crop top from a clothing exchange, vintage thrifted sandals, and glass beads from my grandma. 

Lucy picked out her own outfit and Polly's as well.

Any of you have amazing, old-fashioned playgrounds nearby? Maybe I'll start a teeter-totter-dream list for all our someday travels.