“Until one is committed, there is a hesitancy, the chance to draw back. The moment one definitely commits oneself then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would otherwise never have occurred. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE” For months I have been lost. Dissatisfied with my situation, and yet unable to pinpoint any changes that could be made to remedy it. I felt trapped. Recently though I have persuaded myself to take small sluggish steps in various directions, grasping at straws and hoping that wherever I ended up was where I needed to be. Like a reluctant runner who needs only to make it as far as the front door with shoes on before the miles fall away at my feet, those few steps have led me out of my confusion and helplessness. Just the other day in the midst of my newly gathered momentum, I uttered the wish that a certain government job I enjoyed as an attorney would allow for part time work. Then as if providence was indeed lending me a hand, I received a call from a friend in said area of employment asking me if I was interested in some part time work in his office. Here’s to taking any steps at all and keeping the faith.
It snowed yesterday, and I am grateful as ever that I have a couple of tomatoes plants, some squash, a leftover winter lettuce, a lemon tree, ridiculously happy perennial herbs and a grapevine with grapes on the vine. We have had the dome built for almost a year. It still isn’t up to its full potential, but I give myself a break on that because I did have a baby. It remains a pleasure and a challenge. We installed some drip irrigation and built beds around the perimeter to plant with mint and sunflowers and hops on the south side for shade.
Anyway, now that spring has fully sprung (sort of), we have the happily conflicting desires to spend the free days gardening and or adventuring. So I am partially grateful our weekend camping trip got interrupted by snow, because now my husband can make good on his Mother’s Day promise to plant me a tree. The boys and I will wander in and out of the greenhouse while he digs and we will still spend the day outside, just as cultivators rather than visitors. Happy Mother’s Day.
I sing my boys to sleep every night. The little one lights up when he hears a song, and the older one is starting to sing along. This holiday season I’ll try to remember the real gifts we give, and this one is a love of music. Here are my favorites.
The Book of Love, Magnetic Fields
– so simple, I have long loved this song
Stewball, Perer Paul and Mary
– my late stepmother used to sing this, it makes me feel like I am giving them something of her
The Parting Glass, old Irish song
– my dad introduced me to it through the Wailing Jennys version
Turn Around, as sung by Nanci Griffith
– can’t not cry while singing this to a newborn
Didn’t Leave Nobody but the Baby, Emmylou Harris, Alison Kraus, Gilliam Welch.
– what a round up
Where Have All the Flowers Gone, as sung by Peter, Paul and Mary
– my little one likes the high notes
Boots of Spanish Leather, Bob Dylan
– I have just always loved this song and so my kids must as well
This Land is Your Land, Woodie Guthrie
– because my dad used to sing it and all I want to do is go road trip/camping with these little guys.
500 Miles, Rosanne Cash put this on an album called The List, based off a list of songs that her dad compiled as the most important songs in American music. Who am I to argue with Johnny Cash?
I have failed to write for a long time. Being pregnant with a toddler to watch over took it out of me, and now caring for a newborn as well as a toddler has me running. I never have a moment with two hands and a laptop, so I have resolved to just go ahead and write with one hand while I nurse the newborn and the toddler sleeps. These moments are few and far between, but it is not nothing! Now I have to gather some thoughts that reach beyond the mundanity in theSisyphus like tasks of stay at home motherhood. The laundry, the spit up, the diapers, the naps, the feedings, the endless cleaning. These can overwhelm, but they are not interesting and are not all of who I am or what is important in this stage of life.
What is important, what I want to remember are these first smiles and the gradual awakening of my child to the world. His eyes see more every day, and I see more of who he is. His fat little body gradually gaining muscle and coordination. And the way my toddler wraps his arms around me and says ‘luf you’. How everyday is a new lesson in the lightning speed of his development. His vocabulary expanding every moment as he soaks up the world we show him. How my heart hurts because I can’t give each of them all of me, and how proud I am of how much I do give them. I want to remember this time when my body is slowly becoming my own again, and how I know right now that I will never give it up again to the complete tyranny of carrying a child in my womb. How I am teaching it to be one again as it recovers slowly from being two. I cry because I still don’t recognize myself in the mirror, but celebrate the new strength I am gaining daily. I want to remember the pain that I felt bringing our second and final child into the world.
And it is important to stop and feel how our family is now complete. I get to watch my boys become brothers and hopefully enjoy eachother as they become life long friends. Now my husband and I will slowly find our way back to one another through the separation of pregnancy and early sleepless months with a newborn and the wreckage of my body. I will find my way back to my work and pursuits as an individual rather than a mother as my children grow up and away from me, the separation that begins the moment they are born. How we, all four of us are building and growing and becoming more our family.
It is hard to find moments to recognize these things in the sleepless flurry of tasks, but I must. It goes by in a heartbeat, the moments are long and the years are short. It is precious and grueling. I feel bludgeoned on some days and blessed on the same. I am watching through tired eyes as these early moments as parents of young children swirl around us and pass in a flash.
This is not likely to be of any interest to anyone, unless you happen to be experimenting with greenhouse growing in the height of summer. I am mostly just cataloging my progress for future reference.
It’s been a couple days over a month and our beds are mostly full. I’ve added cucumber, zucchini, scarlet pole beans, a banana tree, and kale. Also a rescued yarrow plant that has been coming back to life rapidly.
Many seeds are in trays including several woody perennials for landscaping. I also have some seeded lettuce, cilantro, basil, more tomatoes and carrots.
We have added fertilizer and microbial supplements and everything seems to be appreciating those efforts, especially since it has gotten quite hot. The strawberries and tomatoes are starting to bear fruit, the zucchini is flowering, and the watermelon is starting to make it’s way up the trellis. The kale is thriving. The peppers are growing surprisingly slow, I figured they would be thriving in the heat. Whereas the arugala plants are quite happy. The cilantro has all bolted and the nasturtium seedlings are struggling. All of the herbs are happy and the marigolds are producing many blooms with our consistent dead heading.
We have also added a couple of aquatic plants to the tank, those are thriving as well. The geraniums are not loving the heat, but have perked up with fertilizer. We have some potted ornamental grasses as well for purely aesthetic purposes. I need to get my hands on a lemon tree.
I have a large grapevine that I am trying to decide where to place. It may just go inside the greenhouse with an arbor or trellis. It is doing quite well outside though.
Outside the greenhouse: the lettuces are providing ample salad greens from their shaded spot under the fruit trees. The arugala and spinach have bolted, I need to seed the beds for the next round. The onions are looking like they are getting close to ready for harvest! The asparagus is doing well with the sunflowers and flax seedlings. The marigolds, nasturtiums, sunflowers, and hollyhocks are all growing with a range of success or lack thereof in various locations. I have also planted a bed of perennial flowers and lots of sweet alyssum. The hops are growing rapidly.
As for landscaping, we just put in three New Mexican privets to screen the future courtyard from the road. There will be some evergreens mixed in with these as well as some large grasses. In the back, the grasses/wildflower meadow is creeping along slowly but surely in the heat and lack of rain. We are also planning on planting some wild plum around the perimeters of our cultivated areas as well as perhaps more juniper or piñon. All of these should be quite drought tolerant after two to three years.
We are busy busy every day. I am in my third trimester now, so weeding has dropped off and things are looking messy! But, the fresh salads are delightful, and my son ate the first two cherry tomatoes with gusto. I have ordered a cookbook that focuses on herbs so I can take advantage of their success in the greenhouse. I need to do a lot of up-potting of my perennial flowers and continue on with the rest of it. Happy dog days of summer.
Oh, and baby goats.
I just have to express my pure elation at having a long held dream come true. I was about 11 when I planted my first pea plant and it was then that I started sending out for mail order seed catalogs. We had a sunroom attached to our home and I enjoyed a brief time of growing and planting and perusing as a child before we moved to the city. It was years until I had a garden again, not until college in Washington state where gardening was so very different. I watered four foot high lavender bushes and marveled at the zeal with which seedlings grew in the moist soil. It was again, a brief time and it would be another 4 or 5 years after that before I would have a garden again. The next time it was at our small house on a busy street in the punishing sun of Albuquerque. We cultivated the neglected dusty patch of land and enjoyed a couple summers of vegetables and started really exploring native and drought tolerant plants. It was a joy. Law school, several moves later, and a punishing work schedule meant that our dusty little plot fell once again into neglect.
Now, once again years later, I have just had the supreme pleasure of planting in my own newly built greenhouse. I have been waiting and planning for and dreaming of this perfectly mild evening with a quiet breeze and the sounds of crickets and the trickle of a water fountain for years. It is here and it is beautiful. My almost two year old son scampered around handing us seedlings and watering cans and running after the dogs. I have taught him that seedlings are ‘babies’ and that he has to be gentle with them, so he pets them lightly to demonstrate his understanding. Today was a good day. Here are pictures of the greenhouse on day 1.
We have planted:
Sugar baby watermelons
I also put some arugula in, though I believe it will be too warm before I can get much out of it.
To come: zucchini and cantaloupe and my cucumber seedlings.
We also need to get in some trees around the southern side to provide some summer shade and a wind break. I am also looking to plant some wild plum, New Mexican privet, and piñon to the north to block our view of the road and define a small courtyard filled with perennial herbs. The day dreaming never ceases.
I hope your spring days are bringing sweet breezes and warm sunsets.
When I entered college I took my education seriously, throwing myself headlong into a search for the truth. I wanted to know what it meant, I wanted order, and I wanted answers. Jesus comforted me and the Jewish God pulled me because of the blood in my veins. I was more able to let my reason wrangle with some Eastern doctrines, but I was never able to believe. Nietzsche scared me and I searched St. Augustine’s confessions trying to find his gateway to enlightenment in the orchard so that I might follow. Shakespeare, Aristotle, Plato, Emerson, Heidegger, Chaucer and on and on. All beautiful all persuasive no answers. More questions.
So I traveled to see if the world itself held answers. What I saw was a world so vast and so beautiful so complex so full of suffering and so beyond me. I resolved to abandon a search for meaning and truth in favor of service in an effort to gain some control and attempt to help to alleviate what suffering I could. This led me back home and to law school. All jokes aside, I entered and graduated with the earnest desire to help and a belief that it was possible.
After a little over one year, toiling in the public sector of criminal justice, I became pregnant. I watched helplessly as battered women returned to their abusers. I read police report after police report detailing the sordid details of the day to day suffering and abuses of my fellow citizens. I saw poverty and education and addiction and circumstance after circumstance that led people to these painful points, sitting before a judge, in cop car, on the run. As my belly grew, so did my fear that I was not actually contributing what I had hoped. That my hands were tied by a vast web of facts and circumstances and cynicism crept in sooner than I would have expected.
Then I gave birth.
It all melted away into the eyes of my child and he became the world. Meaning or truth were nothing to what I felt and I no longer needed them. My fervor to help my fellow men and women drained into the duty of caring for this one human. My restlessness, searching, angst, all were gone and I now spend most my time in the sweet exhaustion of motherhood. I still care about the world and it’s occupants, and and philosophy still move me, but none of it matters when he laughs and cries and sleeps and eats. And when I feel the stir of new life inside my once again growing belly.
I know it isn’t very modern of me. I do love being a mother and am so surprised and quietly joyful that it has brought me so much peace. Happy Mother’s Day.
My shipment of seeds has arrived. I have carefully laid out the packs, labeled my markers, and I am waiting for a couple of hours to get some starts going. (This can be challenging with my small toddler companion). I have chosen a number of perennial herbs to interplant with my veggies (see post ‘herbal companions), as well as to use for flower beds. A number of them are also very attractive to pollinators, I have to do my part, and many are drought tolerant as well. I have steered a little away from native species, though not completely. The idea is to create planting communities that serve multiple purposes, will survive without coddling in the harsh environment, and of course be beautiful.
Our greenhouse is nearly complete, and I am planning to do pretty large quantities of these seedlings- both because I have a lot of planting to do on our property and because I am curious to see if I’ll be able to provide starts for our landscaping clients.
Below is a list of my picks along with pictures. I hope to eventually add in plant heights and spacing as well as potential companions, but this is just the beginning to provide fodder for the imagination which is so very important when planting by seed.
(All photos from Pinterest, I will be taking my own as the season progresses)
Salvia officinalis (garden sage)
Daucus carota (queen anne’s lace)
Borago officinalis (borage)
Solidago canandensis (Goldenrod)
Centranthus ruber (Jupiter’s beard)
Sideritis syriaca (Greek mountain tea)
Anthemis tinctoria (chamomile)
Asclepias Speciosa (showy milkweed)