Summer

It is now the beginning of September. It is hard to believe we have already been here 5 months and most of the summer. Virginia is hot and humid like Mexico but it cools off at night and we live in air conditioning which makes life so much more bearable. Even so, I am eager for the cooler temperatures that the forecast is predicting.

We did spend almost a month in North Carolina with my sister and her family. The mountains with so much water it just flows out of the ground and pours down the street. Hot coffee on the deck in the cool shade before the sun makes its way around to heat up our skin. Walks and hikes with babies and we did not sweat. I miss it.

 

We managed once again to get all of us together. Two parents, five children and their spouses, one more son, and now 6 grandbabies! It was a week’s worth of late nights, early mornings, volleyball, hiking, river swimming, and laughter!

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Life for Ben and I keeps on changing in unanticipated ways. We encourage one another to keep on smiling and do the best we can with what we’ve been given, which is so much grace upon grace. And we get these beautiful gifts all along the way: a warm evening in the lake, snuggling kids into bed with campfire smoke still lingering in their hair, lightning and thunder at night, dew-wet feet in  the mornings. Always good coffee. And crickets.

The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad, monotonous song. “Summer is over and gone.” they sang. . . Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into fall. . .
~ from E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web

 

 

Mother of three

Well, here I am. Mother of three. I love it. And I hope I am blessed with a few more babies on top of these ones I love so dearly. Yes, I’ve had a few sleepless night since Liam came into my bed. I have fought to control my frustration with my two older kids as we all adjust to this new normal. I have wanted to snuggle up with my husband at the same moment that Liam decides he wants to nurse. But when I watch my two older kids as  they run laughing through the sprinkler on a hot summer day, or when I hear them apologize to one another without being prompted, or anytime that this new little baby smiles I know I am blessed. My heart overflows.

I feel like I am finally emerging from the post postpartum haze and becoming interested and aware of things again. Christy and I have started meal planning – which is so much fun with all the produce available through the local farms – and working out a rhythm for our collective children. So far the rhythm revolves around meals and an afternoon rest period with plenty of outdoor time. They love any game involving water and Ethan (3) and Willow (now 4!) spend much more time naked than clothed.

The garden is producing broccoli, squash, zucchini, and lettuce. We have lots of herbs that get thrown in everything from pastas and salads, to iced teas. The tomatoes and peppers are getting closer to harvest. We finished up the last of the strawberries just before the strawberry moon of the solstice and are now on to wild blackberries. Our first harvest brought in enough for a night’s dessert, this morning’s blackberry lemon scones, and Sunday’s pie!

Ayden is into superheros these days and runs around in a cape and mask much of the time. Thankfully, his recent superhero power is helpfulness. He is growing up so fast and loves to spend time working with Ben and Dustin. Or just working in general, preferably outside in farm boots. He does well with Liam although he is not always as gentle as I would wish.

Willow is still the princess in the games. But a princess with super powers. She falls in love with one dress at a time and will refuse to wear anything but that dress until I manage to sneak it into the laundry without her knowledge. We went bowling for her 4th birthday and she loved it. She will sit with Liam sleeping on her lap for 30 minutes before she needs to move.

Liam is a darling boy. I think his favorite thing to do is nurse all day, every day. He sleeps pretty well; I have only had a handful of those exhausting and frustrating nights. (Quite the change after Willow, my little fireball.) When he wakes up from a nap he often opens his eyes and starts looking around. Twice now, I have gently said his name as he is laying awake and he smiles, turning his head to look for me. Melts my heart.

Parenting in this community style – two families in one house with 5 children ages 5, 4, 3, 1.5, and a newborn – is a challenge, to say the least. But it is also such a blessing. To have another young mother encourage me when I am having a hard time holding it all together is a gift I have not experienced very often since becoming a mom. I am thoroughly enjoying sharing life with Christy here on the farm.

A few favorite things

In the midst of this hot, humid, thundering summer, this is where I feel my soul settle down to dwell:

Sandorkraut – Not just the cool temperatures, blue jeans, and sweaters, but the house, the garden, the produce. The shelves lined with ferments and canned veggies, homemade fruit wines. The peace and quiet as he slices into the cabbage and works the magic with his hands.

Acre of Land – This album is playing at least once during the day. My favorite song from this set is, of course, Acre of Land. I imagine the garden I’ll one day have. And me with blisters, hours of grumpy weed pulling, and cool lemonade in the shade, cup of tea in the evening light, watching things grow. Taking it slow.

Per Petersen’s novel Out Stealing Horses – Love the writing style, the attention to details in the weather and nature. The character development and the way they interact with one another, with me. So many words left unwritten because they didn’t need to be written, they are there in the reader’s mind, summoned as if by a magician, to complete the feeling of the story.

Annie Dillard’s novel The Maytrees – This is my second time reading this book. The first time was 5 years ago and I love it just as much now as I did then. So many seemingly disconnected sentences and thoughts that all tie together when they are united with the reader’s imagination and soul. I can see those parabolic sand dunes even now. So much to say about love, forgiveness, compassion, the way we are as human beings and the way we can become if we want to.

And, naturally, these kiddos…

The party is over

Ok, the party has been over for a couple of weeks now. But somehow we kept it living on through impromptu dance sessions with Abuela and retelling memories of the wedding celebration over and over again. Was it the best wedding out of the five we have had? Was it because it was Tomas, el consentido, so naturally it was just better? I’m not sure but it was a damn good party.

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We sent my mom off on Friday and since then the kids have been moping around unsure of what to do with themselves. The pool is no longer as fun, the beach doesn’t hold the wonder it did when Abuela was by their side, laying on the floor coloring pictures with me is boring now. The weather has not been helping; with Hurricane Carlos spinning around off shore, moving ever so slowly northwestward, we get a random spattering of rain now and then and plenty of grey, close clouds.

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But this morning has dawned a blue and cloudless day. We will settle in to life back home without the crowd. The weather is cool – extremely humid – but cool for mid-June and it is still pleasant to drink a cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon. After a few weeks living in Cuastecomate it’s nice to be back in our neighborhood with the neighbors sweeping the street, kids coming by to play, and groceries available just around the corner. I have mountains of laundry and every surface needs dusting but I’m also getting the chicken stock on and fermenting my veggies, organizing the seemingly unending mess of shelves in the kitchen and playing with my kiddos. It a good, everyday sort of life.