Take These Eggs

{In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’ll be posting a poem each weekday through the rest of April, and I invite you to join me!  Leave a link to your poem of the day in the comments section below.}


Kindling sets flames to lick
the firebox
a cast iron skillet
takes the heat,
holds it in its open face,
and I crack the egg.
Just yesterday I threw compost
out to the chickens,
and the matted roots
of harvested pea shoots,
green stems sticking up
like stubble.
Somehow the earth
is thawing—melting
snow sets rivers running
through the field
and the chickens peck
emerging worms in the barnyard.
We all have creation inside us
The chickens, they take worms and compost,
turn it into muscle and eggs.
Me, I take these deep golden
yolks, thick and smooth, into my mouth
I turn them into muscle and milk
to feed my babe
and he, too grows:
supple skin stretches
over elongating bones
teeth cut through gums
even his voice
rises and shifts—
an audible, intangible
He does not know yet
of spring
how thin blades of grass cut
through winter’s kill
how green spreads like a wave
from the valley up this hillside,
how the lone call of the raven
is replaced by chickadees, robins, hermit thrush, and
the reverberating howl of the snipe.
He knows of the barnyard,
of chickens and eggs,
of warm milk.
He knows of cool mornings,
hot stoves.
And what do I know of creation?
Only that I cannot explain it,
though morning sun streams
through the window,
though steam rises slowly from my tea
though even in stillness
everything moves, pushing us into
(I originally posted this almost exactly a year ago, and this season pulled me back to the poem).

This Moment

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  ~A ritual from SouleMama

Papa, Waylon, and Rudbeckia Starts

From Birth to Now: 9 months in a Yurt

There are times I can read people’s minds.  Like when I first tell someone that we live in a 20 foot yurt with no running water, and the look on their face says what their voice won’t:

You have a baby, what are you thinking? 

But when we are questioned about our home, I think of our friends outside of Fairbanks, Alaska, who raised two kids in a 24 foot yurt for six years.  I think of the man we bought our first yurt from who raised his two girls, in the same size yurt we have, for 12 years.  I think of all the ways it is and has been completely do-able.

And it has been do-able.  So today we celebrate.

Waylon turns 9 months old today.  9 months.  How did that happen?  From a floppy newborn to a crawling wanna-be toddler with four teeth, he has challenged me and loved me and taught me how to discover the world all over again.  He has made me think “this is so great, let’s have 5 babies!” and “how could I ever have another baby?  He is the best one–how could any baby be better?”

So for all of you who wonder what are we thinking, here are a few tips on yurt-living with a baby (and two dogs):

1. Time your baby’s arrival in the mid-late summer.  This is important for a few reasons: aside from having abundant fresh food, the outdoors becomes a large second room.  Sometimes Papa or Mama need some space, so It’s helpful to have a second room when adjusting to life with a new baby.  This timing also means that by the time baby is crawling and/or walking, the winter has (hopefully) passed and they, too can explore in the large second room.

2.  Organize.  We have a lofted bed, which until I entered my “nesting” phase was a catch-all of random stuff.  At the beginning of my third trimester, I spent a night hunched under the bed, pulling everything out, getting rid of junk and re-organizing the space.  All of the sudden, we had two more usable shelves, a space for baby clothes, and knew where all our camping supplies were.

3.  Get the dogs used to sleeping on the floor.  The dogs, who had taken our lofted bed as permission for sleeping on the futon, had a hard time with this.  The futon is so much cushier!  But when my belly got too big and I was up too often to pee in the middle of the night, we opened the futon up into a bed and took it over again.  It took a week or two, but eventually Nobee and Pebble got used to their dog bed in the newly organized space under the loft.

4.  Begin Elimination Communication early.  Just as babies can tell us when they’re hungry or tired, they also have cues to tell us when they need to pee and poop.  When Waylon was three months, we began paying attention to his rhythms and putting him on a potty when he made a certain face and began to squirm.  We’ve missed a few times, but for the last six months Waylon has pooped in the potty, making cloth diapering MUCH easier (remember: no running water).

5.  When baby becomes mobile, be okay with non-traditional toys.  Dog bowls, spoons, salad dressing bottles–anything Waylon can reach, he plays with…okay, not anything, I do redirect him when he gets too close to the pantry or the stove.  But it’s really hard to “baby proof” a yurt since there’s already a limited amount of space to put things, and it’s amazing how happy he is banging the dog bowls around.

Finally, be flexible.  Though this goes for all parents, not just those living in a yurt.  There are times my patience is tested, when I’m tired and hungry myself, times when it’s hard to remember to breathe.  Those are the times we utilize our second room.  Fresh air calms Mama, Papa and Baby, and gives us the space to be flexible again.  In that way, perhaps it’s easier parenting in a yurt–the expanse of outside is only a door away.

The Benefits of Stoking the Greenhouse Woodstove at 1:00 am

*The snipe, who has recently returned to the field, lets out a wild call that vibrates in your chest and pulls you outside.

*A rising moon, just cresting the treetops in the Southeastern sky, pours deep yellow light on the pathway to the barn.

*In the greenhouse stove the bed of coals is thick and glowing–it only takes a few minutes to load heavy logs and feel the heat go up.

*Walking back, you notice how the entire expanse of sky is illuminated by the moon, how the brightest stars shine, speckled across the blue night.

*Climbing back into bed, your baby snuggles into your body: his legs scrunch up onto your stomach, his head nestles into your chest, and a calm settles into you as you drape one arm around his body.  This moment is a long breath in and out; it lasts all the way to morning.

Mama and Baby Go to Town

The hardest part of going to town with a baby is the end: when the baby is tired and hungry, but won’t subtly breastfeed and instead pulls his head away every five seconds to let milk shoot out all over his face and shirt, white droplets speckling his hair.  This coincides with the mama overheating, feeling sweaty and flustered and ready to surrender her hope of completing the last items on the agenda: buying a chocolate chip cookie from the corner bakery and picking up a new book at the library.

The best part of going to town with a baby are the smiles: when strangers stop to coo, when the baby lights up at a new face and makes their day, when all the people who would normally walk right past instead become momentary friends.

I brought Waylon into town today to do the laundry.  We did laps around town while we waited for the clothes to wash and then dry. Waylon was happy for the most part, sitting in the laundry basket as I transferred the clothes from washer to drier, smiling up at a woman waiting for her own laundry to finish.   I saw his tiredness set in before he started to loose it.  His eyelids always redden when he needs sleep.

I pulled the laundry out before the drier sounded its completion, and stuffed the hot clothes into their respective bags, not taking the time to fold.  With Waylon strapped into the Ergo, I began running bags of laundry across the street to the car.  The duvet cover fell five feet from the car, tumbling out of the laundry basket that balanced on my hip, and as I turned to see it laying in the wet and muddy street, resignation washed over me.  Stuffing the duvet into the back, mud and all, I took a breath and resolved to get my cookie.  A little walk would help Waylon fall asleep.

“Just a cooke?  No tea, coffee?” the girl at the counter asked.

“Nope, just a cookie,” I said, smiling.  I took a little nibble as we headed toward the library, then closed the bag to save it for home.  We made it to the fiction section on the second floor before Waylon let out his first screech.

Sshhhh I hummed and added an extra bounce to my step.

Then the second screech came, and without taking the time to read the inside cover, I pulled a Tom Robbins book off the shelf and headed back down to check it out.  By the time we reached the car, he was almost asleep, and the rumbling car quickly lulled his cries.  Now I sit home, Waylon napping in the hammock, chocolate chip cookie half eaten beside me, and a new book to read.  The jacket of Villa Incognito reads that “in its lusty, amusing way it both celebrates existence and challenges our ideas about it.”


Between working, planning our second farm season, and being a mom to an increasingly mobile and curious babe, I could use a little escape, a little celebration, and a little challenge to my own ideas of existence.  And Tom Robbins is just the author to whisk me away for a bit.

With my cookie and book, I’ll savor the evening.

Sometimes, the hardest part and the best part of going to town is simply getting home.

Six Months

six monthsI’ve blinked again, and my little boy is six months old!  Happy birthday, Waylon, and thank you for all the joy and light you have brought to the world.

Five Months

Waylon turned five months old yesterday.

Five Months Old!

Five months.  I do not know how time moves, how days can go by slowly and yet months are gone in a moment.  Yesterday I took a walk alone for the first time since I can remember, only my weight to carry.  I stooped to take photos, stopped and sat on a snowy rock to write, pranced down steeper slopes in the woods.

frozen drops, katie spring

Today I went into town for a few hours by myself, leaving Edge and Waylon at home so I could run errands and have solo-mama time.  When was the last time I lingered in the book store, or tried on clothes?  By the end of my town run, though, I felt uneasy, as if I had over stayed, and I imagined Edge back at home, wondering where I was as Waylon cried and cried.  But when I walked into the yurt, Waylon was sleeping in his hammock as Edge did dishes and the music of R. Carlos Nakai floated peacefully in the air.

I remember the lesson I learned the morning Waylon was born–to let go–and I search for the balance between independence and motherhood.

As I read through old entries in my notebook, I found this, from September 30:

My body is shrinking, trying to remember the shape before pregnancy, but there is a space I feel inside, carved out by his body as he grew inside me.  Though I may get back to a certain weight, there is a new stretch within me, a cavern that cannot close completely. I am forever changed.

Like flowing water that carves the riverbank, we shift and adapt together, independent and intertwined: earth and water, mother and son.

ice and flow, katie spring

In A Blink

“Isn’t it amazing how little you can get done with a baby around?”  A farmer friend asked us.  We laughed and said, “Yes!”

Some days all I do is nurse Waylon, change his diaper, and hold him.  When I try to do something else, he calls for me again, and I pick him up and we bounce or dance or eat.  A few days I have felt a mixture of frustration and disappointment as I feel I am not helping Edge on the farm at all, and then he reminds me again of all I’m doing, just as he did when I was pregnant.  Mostly, though, I drink in these moments with Waylon, and I remember how I’d giggle as a little girl when my mother would tell me, “I blinked and you were born, then I blinked and you were 2 two, then I blinked and you were five…”  How can a month have passed already?  I realize that he’ll keep getting bigger, and I savor these days of rocking with him, the endless kisses on his plump little cheeks, the cooing and gurgling and humming sounds he makes as he nurses, the way he stretches his arms up like he’s superman each time he wakes.

So as the days begin and end and keep on going, I am learning that getting things done is not as important as simply being with Waylon and watching him discover the world.  And though he grows each time I blink, he has slowed my pace down, and for that I am thankful.

Three Weeks, One Day

Three weeks, one day

He is smiling, growing, already over 10 pounds

It was yesterday that I felt the energy to get up, walk, process carrots and peaches, to enter again into the wider world

Before that, the womb of the yurt held us both

and we ate, slept, sang, cried, danced

still we do these things, but now I am here for a moment alone

while Waylon and Papa explore the woods

and I drink in the sounds of buzzing grasshoppers and singing crickets,

their rhythm quick like Waylon’s breath, their song pulsing like my own heart as I move into the world anew

Time no longer moves to the rules I once knew–

it expands, stands still, shrinks, strolls along, and changes as it pleases.

To be with a baby is to be with one who only knows the present

he has brought me further into this moment, right now, where the air vibrates with grasshoppers and crickets, the faint rolling of cars over pavement sound in the distance, and the short squawk of a bird calls out across the field.

Three weeks, one day

I am learning how to live honestly–

to do exactly what my body and soul needs to do,

which is the only way Waylon knows how to live.

To live pure and present

He shows me the depth of freedom we are all born into

Welcome, Waylon

Waylon has been with us for eight days now.  This morning Edge said the word “Sunday,” and it sounded foreign to me–time may be moving, but days and hours and minutes melted away when I went into labor.  Now, moments blend together like breath as I deeply inhale, filling myself with this life in front of me: a baby boy.

He was born at home, filling the yurt with his first cry at 1:52 am on July 27.  I looked down at him on the bed and announced, “It’s a boy,” before the midwives could tell me, and I fell back onto Edge, who held me as I held our son in my arms for the first time.  Now, the memory of physical pain has melted away, and I remember only the whole room breathing with me, the clarity of my cousin Amy’s eyes as she helped me through a contraction, the calmness of the midwives as labor intensified, the steady encouragement of Edge as I held him with all my might through each push, and the easy release of Waylon’s body as it squirmed out after his head finally made it through.

Waylon’s birth changed me in a way that has no words.  Everything but breath and love fell away.  Even in the pain I could breath, I had to breathe, and through the pain I found release.  It was the biggest letting go of my life–my body physically opening to let this being that grew inside me out into the world.  So it is that birth has taught me the first lesson of motherhood: letting go.

Letting go brought Waylon into this world.  Letting go brought love, space and peace.  May I remember this always, especially when I try to grasp onto him as he grows and needs to expand or contract without us.  Let me always remember how we did it together–how I had to push, how he had to leave my body to meet my eyes, how we had to put space between us to know each other in a profound new way.

Thank you, Waylon, for your breath, your voice, and your life that you share with your Papa and me.  Thank you so much.  We’re so happy you’re here.