I hope I never lose my sense of wonder. If that makes me naive, then so be it.

Monday, 12 October 2015

thoughts from trees

Life goes on. Some ups, some downs, some navigating and some meandering.

So sometimes, I sit and just look and listen. And it's pretty nice how shifting from 'doing' mode to 'being' mode lets you find new truths that you've walked by and hurried past more times than you can count. So when I stop, I get these little moments.

And now I shall fling them into the interwebs.

From a couple of weeks ago:
The leaf at the top of a tree is the work of a season, but is only where it is because of the many seasons of growth and strength and resilience that have come before it. Likewise I, relatively new to this big ol' earth, am who I am in a cumulative sense. I make my choices but am only in this exact place at this exact time because of choices made by those who came before me in addition to my own choices.

And today, the corollary:
That leaf will fall, as many that have turned their brilliant reds and oranges are doing now, but the tree remains. Our choices can be good, or can be bad. But with that tree still present, there will be more leaves. And with a solid foundation that I can hold on to, I can always make a new choice. There are second chances. And third, and fourth, and fifth ones. There's always next spring.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

buzz buzz

Busy days at the farm. Field garden #1 mostly planted, seedlings poking up and transplants settling in. Field garden #2 (I know, not very original) has its rows of potatoes planted and shoots now visible, and this morning I added some corn and more squash ahead of an expected heavy rainfall. Chicks, all 77 birds, are growing and two weeks from slaughter date; hens laying well. 

Pigs have been here 3 1/2 weeks. They seem to be thriving and have a penchant for wiping their muddy noses on my legs whenever I go into their pen. Thanks, guys.

Garden #1
Food time!
please don't sting me.
The bees, however, are amazing me. We brought home two wooden hives, waterproofed the outsides, and set them up in an area that seemed suitable. Then a week ago, I brought home two nucs (starter colonies) and, with much trepidation, installed them. Not being stung was pretty amazing. Working the smoker (whose fire kept going out) was the main frustration.

Today I went back and opened the hives for the first time. Slowly and methodically, that's my bee-work mantra. I remind myself of that, in hopes of not annoying or upsetting the little guys. And I hope it works. I smoke the area, in the hive, lift off the layers of their home, slowly, no sudden movements, while listening to their buzz and hoping it doesn't take on an angry tone that may have me slowly and methodically running away.

But inside the hives: simply amazing.

They are insects. Bugs, we might call them. Yet they have built intricate frameworks of comb, perfect little hexagons ready for brood or food. All busily working, only seeming mildly miffed at me when I lifted the frames (slowly and methodically) one by one to ensure that the queens were out and about. 

We've named one queen Lorde (for the line 'you can call me queen bee' from 'Royals'), and one Latifah. Sure enough, they were meandering around, I'm sure with great purpose, noticeably larger than their subjects. 

Burr comb removed from hive
They had built what's called burr comb - comb above the frames and not where it should be. I removed some of this; though it seemed a shame to waste their work, it's a necessary part of hive care. When I pulled the frames apart (slowly and methodically), the bees formed a bee chain between the frames. It reminded me of kids playing in a playground, all holding hands in a chain. This behaviour, called festooning, happens for not-completely-known reasons. Theories include measuring distance between the frames. Maybe they just like holding hands.

I saw workers busily moving over the comb, sticking their heads in cells to do... something, not sure just what. I saw bees with their legs laden with pollen, just returned from their forage and ready to store the food. All working with a sort of calm frenzy. But, not wanting to stress them too much, I slowly and methodically replaced the pieces of the hive, to let them work until the next time I visit and learn more from my little teachers.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

look down

Looking down is usually associated with submission, with buckling under, caving in, and giving up. We're encouraged to look up, look around, look at, look in the eye, be alert. I usually try to do that on the farm, checking on things and looking for critters. Today, though, I chose to look down. And what treasures I found.

Looking down slows your stride. You don't make good time. You don't engage other people, you engage the earth. The rocks, the dirt, the insignificant things we seem to think we are meant to step on.

Having spent several days tilling and planting, I decided to go for a walk. Puppy was rather happy at the idea, too. 
No agenda (except a faint hope of finding wild mushrooms, which still elude me), just a walk. Utterly unproductive and absolutely wonderful. Looking down. 

I found flowers.
Marsh primrose


Even this flower was looking down.

I found sedum? Really? I thought that was a garden-only plant. Maybe it escaped from a garden into the wild to become feral sedum. It seemed to be making friends with the horsetails.
"I'm freeeeeeeeeee!"

I found a chunk of quartz with reflective parts that caught the light.

I found baby ferns unfolding their curled ends.

I did look up, and marvelled at the size of the cedar trees here.

Seriously, that's a huge tree.
Then I saw this tree that has decided it wants to be its own tree and grow in whatever direction it wants. Straight up is too mainstream.

I looked up when we flushed a mallard pair and a blue heron. They flew away, annoyed with me. I apologized.

I noticed Titus sniffing at something. He almost always looks down. And I saw... metal gear teeth? So I found a thing. And I assume it's to do with a tractor or something, but I really have no idea. It's currently called "this thing I found".

Next time I'm out, it's back to work. Gardening is nice for that, though. It encourages looking down too. As I churned up the field to make a new plot, I sifted the soil through my hands and wondered who'd last worked it. Then I sat down and thought some more. I am seriously not the most productive farmer anywhere.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014


End of an era, and all that.

As of June, I will be done homeschooling. The journey that began when R turned four and we debated about her education, deciding to "try it for a year", is ending some fourteen years later. M, the youngest of the three, will be entering high school in the fall.

I feel like I should write some sort of retrospective, but how does one distil so many years of learning into mere words? Once again, words alone prove hollow. But it being me, I'll try.
2008 school day

When I began I looked at women who had been teaching their kids for five or six years and I considered them sages of educational wisdom. They had taught so much, multiple subjects, while I was on my first steps of doing flash-card phonics and teaching math using plastic counters. They must know it all. They had seen to many different facets of learning. When I reached that point myself, I wondered if they really had known everything - because I sure didn't. 
I then got terrified when I realized some moms who were starting their homeschool journey seemed to look at me as I'd looked at those women. I figured they'd find me out. Perhaps they did, perhaps not. Unless they read this, I suppose. Hm.

Each phase of learning, and each student, brought new twists and turns. And rather than a closed-in maze that gave me claustrophobia, the twists and turns made it feel like winding path that meandered through new and varied scenery. Not to say I didn't have days (weeks?) of metaphorically bashing my head on a wall. Each phase also brought its own challenges. When child #1 and child #2 learn very differently, you think you've got it figured out until child #3 comes along and blows all of those tidy ideas out of the water.

I learned about my own limitations - and I learned some talents, too. I learned about learning styles. I learned about trying to quantify our learning for the people who asked, "what do you do all day?" I learned that socialization doesn't require a classroom or a playground. I learned the joy of seeing a child who has worked, struggled through something suddenly have it click - and the light bulb comes on. It's incredible. I worked through projects with them and saw them overcome nervousness to present their work to groups. I shared my love of learning and, I hope, instilled some of it in them. I tried to show them as we learned some things together that really, you should never, ever stop learning.

I learned about ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia and Greece and Rome and the Middle Ages and Genghis Khan and mommy did you know that this shark eats these fish and mommy what is the name of that bird and why do we say "won't" instead of "willn't" and why do I have to do all this math and Bible and Latin and Greek and reading books and science and mommy look look at this turtle skeleton I found IT IS THE COOLEST THING EVER.

So while our days will look very different, it's the right time for us. I always said homeschooling may not be for every family, but it's been a huge blessing for us. I stand by that, even as I bid it a fond farewell.

Monday, 7 April 2014


I am now the mother of three teen girls. Well, I have been for a while, but became aware recently of a shift in my perspective.

Boyfriends are not in the picture, but there are names mentioned by each of the girls more often than others. Who is he? I think. What's his character? His family? What are his plans for the future? Would he suit our daughter?

And then I realize...

... I am becoming Mrs Bennet.