"A photo of my little man, once a week, every week, in 2015"
Reece, we spent a little time at the creek this week, the same creek I played in as a child. I love sharing this place with you, watching you play in the creek, run along the same trail I ran along, and climb trees that have grown over the years. It's a special place, and I am so happy I can now enjoy it with you.
Summer is slowly fading, I am now rising in darkness each morning, and the sun sets a little earlier in the evening. It is a shift I welcome, a shift that holds a special kind of energy. As we begin the final farewell to summer I have been thinking about the last few months, and it fills me with such happiness.
We enjoyed a full summer here on our little homestead, not busy, but full. Many days spent at home, puttering around the gardens, working on our home, creating more of the life we want to lead. We had friends over for lunches, play dates, and gatherings, sharing this land we love, and enjoying the wonderful company of people who are special to us. There was time in nature, and visits to the beach. We welcomed friends for overnight stays, first Renee and her family, and this past weekend, Yanic and her family.
Over the last three days we had the wonderful pleasure of getting to know Yanic and her family in person. I am not sure how long ago Yanic and I "met" through our blogs, but since that time we have gotten to know each other through our blog posts, emails, and letters. Making connections, such as this one, through blogging has been one of the biggest, most wonderful surprises, but taking it a step further, to met in person, to share a weekend together with our families, watching our kiddos connect, play and have fun, well, nothing comes close to describing how truly wonderful it was.
We spent our days together doing things we all enjoy...visiting the market, knitting, hiking in the woods, crafting, and sitting fireside in the evenings as the sun set, and the stars filled the sky. We talked about so many of the wonderful things that fill our lives, and we connected in a new way, in person. We watched as our kiddos played, ran around, enjoyed time together, and at one point returned home from a hike with the dads, covered head to toe in mud.
There was a little sadness this morning as they packed up their car for the drive home, but there was also happiness, at a weekend spent getting to know each other better, connecting on a deeper level, and enjoying simple days together. It was a wonderful weekend, and it will be a big part of our 2015 summer memories. Plans are in the works for another visit in the next few months, and I know it will be just as filling as this one was.
As the light of summer slowly fades, I am feeling a gentle pull to step back from this space for a few weeks so I can sink fully into this time. I will pop in for my 52 Project photo, but other than that, things will be quiet here.
Take care, my friends, and I will see you again soon.
Things are busy in the garden, and in the kitchen. As harvests roll in, I am trying my best to keep up, and doing pretty well, actually. While out in the garden I am a little giddy as I watch seeds pop through the earth in the fall/winter garden. This will be our third year planting a fall/winter garden, and there is something pretty special about watching parts of your garden fade away, while other parts start to bring forth new life. It is the circle of life, right here in my garden. I feel honoured when I am out there, to witness this circle, to be a part of it, and to reap the rewards.
The weather has been hot and humid, with very little rain. Things are drying up, and while I was busy watering during our last hot spell, I tend to let things go a little more at this time of year, especially those plants that are at the end of their cycle. I focus my time watering the new sprouts, the tomatoes, the fall vegetables, and I leave the rest, hoping Mother Nature will step in at some point with some rain.
The cover crop on one of our beds is up, and gosh I love the shade of green of those buckwheat sprouts, gorgeous. I finished the hugelkultur bed on the weekend, and seeded a crimson clover cover crop over it. The spring should see it full of beautiful crimson clover, and then I will turn it over into the soil, to provide nutrients and organic matter, before I plant it with herbs, lots and lots of herbs.
Justin and I have been planning, and have pretty much decided to take up two of our perennial beds this fall. We will do some soil amendments, and next spring seed them both with wild flowers for our bees. It will be beautiful, and I know our bees will appreciate it.
We are missing one thing in our garden this year, potatoes. When we did all the fencing around the beds this spring, it was the one vegetable I just didn't seem to have the space for within the fences. If you have free ranging chickens you completely understand the need for the potatoes to be within the fences. So we passed on potatoes this year. But, I miss them, so every few days we walk our land, seeking the perfect spot to add to our fenced in gardens, so that next year we can grow potatoes again.
Did you see those sunflowers? The tallest one is about nine feet at the moment, and can, according to the seed packet, reach twelve feet. They are huge, and every day we walk out to the garden, stand under them and look up, in awe of them. I can't wait for them to bloom.
We ate our first eggplant from the garden this week, and there are many more to come. The butternut squash is growing well on the arch, and we will definitely grow it this way again next year. Reece and I stood under the squash this week and counted about twenty squashes, not bad for a few seeds in a pot. The tomatoes are rolling in daily, the raspberries and strawberries are ripening, and are oh so sweet, and the pole beans keep on producing. Oh, and let's not forget the zucchini, lots of zucchini, but that is nothing new. We are enjoying our harvests, and feel so blessed that we can eat from the garden.
Well, that is about it for the garden this week. How are things around your garden?
Our world today is moving fast, much too fast for our family. We have been working hard for many years to live slowly and simply on this earth, and to deepen our connection and appreciation for the natural world. It is part of our mission as a family, and I like to think we are succeeding, at least from our perspective.
Part of living slowly and simply for us has been returning to many skills of the past that unfortunately have been lost in our modern world. Gathering food and herbs in the woods to eat and to make medicine, baking bread, growing our own food, putting food by for the winter ahead, raising chickens, making our own self care products from soap, to healing salves, to body butter, cooking from scratch, using friction to start a fire, making what we need instead of buying, and so on. We have returned to these practices for no other reason except that they make us happy, truly happy.
It is a way of being that fosters health and well being, for our family, it gives meaning to our day to day life, it gives us hope for the future, a future that my little man will walk towards with these skills as his foundation, and it makes us grateful for our connection to the past and these skills that were necessary for survival, and grateful for the present and the choice we have to live our life this way, to be engaged in a life full of meaning.
Our survival is not dependent on these skills, we do have the market and the grocery store if our gardens don't produce as we would like, if we don't put enough food by for the winter we still have access to fresh, healthy food just a short drive away, and if we don't get a coal to start a fire, there is a match nearby. We don't need these skills, but we still think they are important. Important because they connect us to another time, and to our ancestors. These skills, in essence, connect us to our roots. So we take time and make an effort to remember the old ways, to learn primitive skills, again not for survival, but to add a little something interesting to our lives, and to deepen our appreciation for the past.
On Saturday we took a drive to Little City Farm, our second visit to this lovely urban homestead and eco bed and breakfast. Our first visit was for the bee workshop back in June. This time we went for a birch bark container making workshop. We brought along the little one that homeschools with us, and enjoyed a lovely afternoon with like minded folk.
We learned how to properly harvest birch bark, how to prepare it to work with, we chatted about all the useful things that can be made with birch bark, we made birch bark rope, we made pegs out of branches to hold our containers together, and we made our own birch bark containers. The kids made two each, and I managed to quickly whip up a little one for myself before the workshop ended. It was a lovely afternoon of both fun and learning, in a beautiful garden.
We now have a new skill to add to our skill set, and while I don't need to make a birch bark container to cook my dinner over an open fire this evening, I am quite happy to have this skill, and even happier that we shared the afternoon learning this skill together, as a family.
"A photo of my little man, once a week, every week, in 2015"
Reece, we found so much when we went into the woods together, just you and me, this week...wild herbs, monarchs, dragonflies, snails, swans, ducks, rocks, and sticks. It was also a chance for us to connect, to each other, to ourselves and to Mother Nature. As we left the lake to wander back along the trail to the car, you stopped here for a moment and stood in silence. I am not sure what you were thinking, or watching, but I stood quietly and let you enjoy that moment, your moment. I am pretty sure you found solace in this moment, staring out at the lake, taking it all in. I hope you will always turn to nature to sooth your soul little man, it truly is the most amazing place to find comfort when you need it.
After a day of ups and downs on Wednesday, I sat and reflected on what had happened, and what I could do about it. It was during this reflection that I realized that Reece and I have not been into nature, on our own, for a few weeks. We have spent a lot of time in nature this summer, but always with friends. We love our time in nature with friends, we really do, but we also love our time together, just the two of us.
So, with that realization, the two of us headed to one of our favourite trails yesterday to soak up time together, within the embrace of Mother Nature.
As we stepped onto the trail we were greeted by monarchs! A big deal considering the last few years we haven't seen very many. We counted ten on our hike, and even managed to snap photos of a few of them. We meandered along the trail, holding hands and chatting. Reece was interested in milkweed pods and stopped often to collect some. I was spying the red clover, yarrow, and jewelweed, making a mental note to stop on the way back to collect some for medicine making.
The reason this trail is one of our favourites is because it ends at Lake Ontario. There is something about being by the water that makes everything okay in the world. We sat on the rocks, enjoyed a snack, and let the sound of crashing waves sooth our souls. We spied a sunflower growing out of the rocks on the shore. We each took a turn guessing how a sunflower seed might have got there. Reece was thinking chipmunks, I was thinking birds. However it got there, it certainly is a sign of nature's resiliency.... a sunflower growing on a rocky shore, reaching its way to the sun, surviving the rush of water, and the many creatures that frequent the shore. A pretty amazing find.
We walked back through the meadow, collecting herbs, watching monarchs and dragonflies, and taking deep breathes. We ran into an older couple interested in our activities, and shared a conversation, trail side, with them, before making our way back to the car, calm, grounded and connected.
It's funny how something as simple as missing our mama/son hikes for a few weeks can affect us. Having a few less than stellar moments on my mothering journey on Wednesday made me take the time to reflect, to make sense of those moments, and to realize just what the two of us were missing.