What use are memories?

frog eggs in the pond
frog eggs in pond, april 30 2015

The frogs are back.

For weeks before they returned, Waylon would pull at me as we passed by the pond and say, “froggies sleepin’?”

“Yep, the froggies are sleeping under the mud,” I’d say, and continue the walk to the greenhouse.

They broke their sleep last Wednesday night; as I turned the lights off and walked upstairs, their croaking bubbled its way through the walls and into our bedroom.  It took me a few moments to make out what it was as I stood still by the window, stretching my ears to their call.  For the first time since we moved into the house, I missed the thin walls of the yurt, how they let all the sounds in.

We are close enough to the pond, though, closer than we were in the yurt, and so even now as I write these words on Sunday morning, windows closed, I hear them: their popping percussion aided by the swinging notes of chickadees and the tinny flitting whistles of robins.

We counted 33 yesterday, legs all splayed out as they floated on the pond’s surface.  Waylon’s counting is sequential up to 10, and then erratic after that, going 15, 18, 16, 17, 19,  and so on, all the way up to 20-10.  He corrects me when I say 30.

I wonder how much he remembers of falling asleep and waking to the springtime concert when we lived in the yurt.  Yesterday Edge asked Waylon if he remembered where he was born.  He replied, in mama’s belly.

“But do you remember where you came out of mama’s belly?” my husband asked, and then answered our son’s stare, “right over there; in the yurt.”

It’s only recently that Waylon has started saying, “member when…” and part of me smiles at his development, and part of me wonders what language is worth when so much of it is spent on the past.

What use does a toddler have for memories?  What use do any of us have?  Sure, there are the necessary elements of learning so we may know how to feed and clothe and shelter ourselves.  The necessary learning to stay alive.

But the frogs are awake now, and there’s no use in dawdling over last week, when we’d stop and talk about their muddy sleep.  The frogs are awake, and Waylon is counting, and there are stones to throw into the pond, and there is mud to play in.

What use are memories when all of this is at hand?  When the sun is warming the water and maple buds are flowering and there is a whole, waking world to be present in.



Meeting Trees

September.  We are well enough into it now, though the burst of heat that wrangled itself around our limbs in the month’s first week felt more like summer than most of July.  Much has happened in the last few weeks, as much is always happening on a farm in late summer, but it’s enough to say that vegetables have been harvested, new seedlings planted, and cover crops cast; it’s enough to say the sun has risen and set and we’ve sweat in between.

Of all the things I’ve witnessed this summer, nothing has lifted me as the sight of my toddler stamping through the woods to a particular tree and announcing, “Ash! Ash!”  Maple was the first tree he learned to say, birch was the second, and for a few weeks our walks transformed from quiet strolls to three miles of excited shouts and screeches as Waylon pointed out every birch and maple we passed.  At toddler height, he is learning to identify trees by their bark, and as I didn’t learn the difference between ash and maple bark until my husband began sugaring five years ago, Waylon’s declaration of the long ridged trunk as an ash tree had me smiling in wonder.

Edge pointed out the scales of spruce bark as Waylon repeated sprue, and he touched little knobs along the otherwise smooth gray beech, saying bee.  How long did it take me to learn the names of trees?  How long did I live before I could look through a forest and know at a glance the species that live there?

“Waylon is the smartest two-year-old I’ve ever met,” I said aloud, though if every toddler spent as much time around trees, they’d surely know their names, too.  The beauty of toddlers is that they are so open, so willing to learn, so willing to connect with their surroundings.

To be open. To be willing.  With these lessons, I learn over and over again the excitement of discovery.

Unfurling into May

May green

And suddenly it’s green.  It happens all at once, and every year I forget the immediacy of unfurling leaves and popping green until that moment when I look up and see the sunlight catch the color anew.

The farm is unfurling into May, too.  10,000 onions, 700 feet of salad greens, 600 feet of spinach, 400 feet of tomato plants and snap peas, plus kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, carrots, beets.  We are in with our whole hearts and bodies now.

This little boy of mine is in it, too, learning to slack line with his Papa, learning to walk in the pathways instead of on the garden beds, and learning to be gentle with transplants.  When he tried grabbing the tomatoes, I said, “Be gentle with the plants.  Give them love,” to which he responded by bending down, softly brushing the leaves and saying “looaahhh”

Now even the grass gets loves from Waylon.

pointing out birds

The birds, too, command his attention.  Crows, ravens, carrier hawks, red-winged blackbirds, robins, even a heron landed in a tree to scout our pond the other day, and Waylon announced it all, saying “toot toot toot” to show us the birds.

And now he is pointing out the window, saying “side, side” and so it’s time to close the computer screen and go out with him into the day.

Twenty-One Months

{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.}

spring stream

Twenty-one months–

that’s all it took

to bring us to this moment.

And just as it delivered us here,

impermanence will take us away

to tomorrow.

Grasp Your One Necessity

“I think it would be well, and proper, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you.”

~Annie Dillard

Hunger Mountain Summit, October 2014
Hunger Mountain Summit, October 2014

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 tradition from SouleMama}

winter walk

Another Winter in the Yurt

Winter, 2013
Winter, 2013

Snow flurries breezed over our hillside and into the valley this past week, and though the land isn’t white by any means, we’re only 6 weeks from solstice, and the shorter days and colder nights bring us closer to the bare quietness of winter.  This will be our fourth winter in the yurt, and inside we are making some changes.

It’s Waylon’s second winter in the yurt, but first as a toddler.  He’s not one to sit still unless he’s snuggling in for a book (and even then, he’s always ready to go grab more books and bring them back to us to read).  He walks in circles around the yurt, climbs on anything he can, and is reaching higher everyday to pull down whatever it is that’s just out of reach.

So, to make the yurt more toddler-friendly, and winter ready, we’ve made a few changes…

  • We put a door on the yurt!When our dogs broke the screen door this summer, we replaced it with a blanket (very traditional!).  The solid door needed some repairs and re-painting, and it took until October to finally get around to it (though we could have used it during some torrential rain storms when water pounded right through the blanket and onto the floor).  The door used to be a lovely antique shade of green, but we only had one color of paint on hand, and so “grandma’s sweater” blue now graces our door, and I have to say, I love its brightness.

Our Door: Grandma's Sweater Blue

  • A homemade railing for the lofted bed~When the heat of summer rolled in and the lofted bed became too stuffy and hot, we moved our sleeping quarters down to the futon.  No more, though!  Edge built a safety railing for the loft and our toddler who loves to test the limits.  With the futon as a couch again, we’ve re-claimed some space on our “main floor.”

toddler bed railing

  • A play nook for Waylon~With a little cleaning out and rearranging, the space under the lofted bed is now a play nook for Waylon.  With a bookcase, his toys, an oversized pillow, and a string of Christmas lights, I often look over while I’m making dinner or cleaning up to see him in the nook pulling books down and banging on a drum.  (Of course, the dogs appreciate the pillow, too).

Waylon's play nookAnd then there are the little things, like doing dishes every day, sweeping each night, and keeping the dining table relatively clutter-free (relatively).  As we nestle in, creating a nest that we can all find space in is truly important to add peace to our days.  Though we talk more and more of what kind of house we’ll build (and I admit, these conversations almost always start by me), living in the circle of a yurt brings a coziness I’ve yet to find anywhere else.

As we tucked into bed last night with the warmth of a fire in the wood stove and a bright moon just peaking over the ridge, I said, “I love our life.  I love our boy, and our yurt, and being so cozy.”  And as Edge smiled and clicked off the light, we drifted into an early winter night, ready for our fourth winter in the yurt.

He knows the taste of dirt and rocks

Waylon broadforkingI don’t know if Waylon will grow up to be a farmer, but I can tell you this: he loves the broadfork, the soil, pulling carrots out of the ground.  He knows the taste of dirt and rocks; he knows the feel of uneven stones on his bare feet.

Maybe he’ll leave the farm when he grows up.  There’s so much we can’t control, despite our dreams for him.  I don’t know where he’ll roam, but I can tell you this: he knows how to explore and how to dig into the earth like a worm.  If he remembers only this by the time he’s grown, that will be enough.

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 tradition from SouleMama}

drinking yogurt