I've been meaning to share with you our winter book list for a while now. At this point, they're all--even the very best favorites among them--are beginning to have the appeal that winter squash and potatoes take on this time of year. They are still what works, definitely appropriate, but we're craving cool and crunchy even as the temperatures dip below zero.
Actually, at the coop today I completely surrendered my locavore standards...in my cart were mangos, apples, broccoli, oranges, avocados, parsley, and . . . a tomato. I know...crazy. But I made falafel tonight and when I saw those bright red jewels shining from across the aisle, I grabbed one like bling for my cart.
It was the sweetest (and mildly guilty) pleasure to fill my bowls with these colors of the world, or at least the continent.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not hardcore about this stuff. We drink coffee and wine, I eat dark chocolate nearly every day lately . . . there's no deprivation going on around here. But fruits and veggies . . .it just seems funny to eat them after they've travelled thousands of miles on a truck (or train or plane or ship? do they ship veggies on planes??)
Anyhow, I realize that winter book list is going to wait another day. Because, really, what do you care? You're on the spring train, too. The winter book list is like this year's sweaters and wool slacks at 50% off. You might buy them because you know you "should," but check out that cute sundress over there . . . so much more fun.
Yes . . . that's our front yard snow cave that the kiddos and papa built while mama galavanted in the city this weekend.
But I'll leave you with this . . . this dream of another time's forgotten place.
Clairie, our dear friend and first babysitter, sent this to me this evening.
It's crazy that when I look at this picture it seems so long ago. As in, I hardly recognize any of us.
Claire was babysitting. I was running an office and a practice. We were getting ready to move to a yurt at OZ Farm. Minnesota was flyover territory.
3 1/2 years can seem like a lifetime. Life can take so many unexpected twists and turns. I'm sure Belly was right there at our feet that day, and here we're coming up on the 1st anniversary her passing.
Everyday blessings happening every day. Blessed days adding up to a blessed life. That's what it's all about, isn't it friends?
Open wide the door to morning,
take love as you depart.
Walk gently on the earth,
with kindness in your heart.
Ever since we moved to Minnesota and Steve started working out of the house, we've said this blessing pretty much every morning to ease the transition between home and workday. I took it from Shea Darian's Seven Times the Sun, and we have arm movements to go with every verse.
Even big-shot 5-year-old forgets his coolness long enough to share this moment with the family.
Just as the round the year holidays help mark our time together, these small verses upon waking, departing, mealtimes, and bedtime lend a sweet rhythm to the day.
Ok friends . . . one more Mary Oliver poem. I share this in hopes that you'll run out and buy all her books, so I hope including her poems here so publicly is acceptable.
This is by far our family's favorite poem. When a cardinal perches at our feeder, we run to the windows in awe and even quietly open them in hopes of hearing its call.
I find this time of deep winter and coming spring magical. The temperatures have been in the 30s . . .feels so warm!! Yet, we're still in winter. Practicing gratitude, patience, quiet, and play.
Red bird came all winter
firing up the landscape
as nothing else could.
Of course I love the sparrows,
those dun-colored darlings,
so hungry and so many.
I am a God-fearing feeder of birds.
I know He has many children,
not all of them bold in spirit.
Still, for whatever reason--
perhaps because the winter is so long
and the sky so black-blue,
or perhaps because the heart narrows
as often as it opens--
I am grateful
that red bird comes all winter
firing up the landscape
as nothing else can do.
There are so many landmarks in parenting, and so few that I've actually reached. 5 years old is as far as I've gotten and it seems big enough! There is no denying the big kid status of the 5 year old boy. Sure, he can whine, cry, grope, and cuddle with the best of the babies, but his persona now is part of the outside world.
My friend Christy shared with me what a veteran preschool teacher told her recently: "Once they register for kindergarten, it's like senior slide. They're gone." Funny, huh? They haven't gone bad exactly, just gone. Away from their babyhood. Away from us.
I love this picture because it's an all-too-rare moment of unadulterated joy and pride. He had just succeeded in operating a crane to lift an I-beam onto a truck bed at the children's museum. A tough job that I have yet to succeed at. As self-consciousness has moved front and center, those open-hearted smiles have become precious gifts I savor whenever they come at me.
Sometimes the masks he hides behind are figurative, other times, they're helping him keep all those little teeth.
unrelated...I was searching my bookshelves for Naomi Aldort's book, Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves to share with you some of her deep wisdom about the 5-year-old set (thanks, Cheryl!) and instead I came across Brenda Ueland's If You Want to Write (thanks, David!). I actually haven't picked it up since pre-kids and the first chapter I flipped to is entitled: "Why Women Who Do Too Much Housework Should Neglect It for Their Writing." It's heading straight to the top of my bedside table pile.
is nothing more truly artistic than to love people." Vincent van Gogh
Today was such a day. Sunny, almost 30 and Isaiah and I hit the trails at Quarry Hill, admiring the local "cloud factory" and skiing across the frozen pond.
When we're not out there playing, we're inside keeping cozy. Our art studio/sunroom has gone a bit amok lately with non-stop painting. I love these images. 2 boys collaborating on a self-portrait started out innocently and of course became filled with fireballs, blood and cannons. Discouraging, sure. But better on paper than with sticks and tinkertoy rods in the playroom.
And just so you know, Miel's forehead is just fine. She really likes band-aids. And face paint.
I hear some of you are enjoying spring, while others of us are deep in the heart of winter, reinvigorated by the Olympics to get on those skis, onto the ice, into those snowshoes, and deep into ourselves for all sweetness we hold in our hearts.
For all of you, some words of Billy Collins . . . .
Shoveling Snow with Buddha
In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok
you would never see him doing such a thing,
tossing the dry snow over a mountain
of his bare, round shoulder,
his hair tied in a knot,
a model of concentration.
Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word
for what he does, or does not do.
Even the season is wrong for him.
In all his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid?
Is this not implied by his serene expression,
that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?
But here we are, working our way down the driveway,
one shovelful at a time.
We toss the light powder into the clear air.
We feel the cold mist on our faces.
And with every heave we disappear
and become lost to each other
in these sudden clouds of our own making,
these fountain-bursts of snow.
This is so much better than a sermon in church,
I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.
This is the true religion, the religion of snow,
and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,
I say, but he is too busy to hear me.
He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existence,
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
you could back the car down easily
and drive off into the vanities of the world
with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.
All morning long we work side by side,
me with my commentary
and he inside his generous pocket of silence,
until the hour is nearly noon
and the snow is piled high all around us;
then, I hear him speak.
After this, he asks,
can we go inside and play cards?
Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk
and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table
while you shuffle the deck.
and our boots stand dripping by the door.
Aaah, says the Buddha, lifting his eyes
and leaning for a moment on his shovel
before he drives the thin blade again
deep into the glittering white snow.
There's so much I love about these cards. The fact that they were made by Miss Sweetness herself. The fact that she not only wrote her own name, but "Dada" and "Isaiah" as well. Even Isaiah was impressed by little sister's abilities . . .
And see how she appreciates that Dada lets her have cereal for breakfast? He tends to be "in charge" of breakfast on weekends, and often the morning starts early with breakfast and then moves on to more nutritious fare. It's been a point of contention between us, since I don't believe in cold food first thing in the morning. In Chinese medicine, we see the spleen/stomach/digestive system as a wood burning stove that needs warm, cooked food, especially when breaking the night's fast. But I do enjoy getting to sleep in or zipping off to a morning zumba class, and so we explore the beauties of compromise that make family life such a growth experience.
But this cereal thing has been more of a challenge this week, since last week you might remember I embarked on the Real Food Challenge and cleaned our pantry of every bit of processed food on the first day. The challenge has been a lot of fun and I won't bore you at this moment with the particulars of every day. You can check out Nourished Kitchen website for that. But I will tell you that I should have suspected something when Steve offered to go grocery shopping on Friday. Lo and behold, the pantry is already getting re-filled, mom and dad are getting a some precious sleep, and the kiddos are getting a little of what they really want.
At least they ate it with the delicious, creamy raw milk that we've been enjoying from a local farm for the past month.
So maybe it's the extra va-voom she gets from the nourishing milk and all the other power-packed food she eats, or maybe it's the sheer joy she gets from eating cold cereal, but I like to think that all those extra lines in her "E" (not to mention that sweet dot on the "i") are a sign of feeling pretty darn good about herself.
Happy Valentine's Day to you! I hope it's left you feeling pretty darn good about yourself, too.
She's certainly not new news, and maybe you've already read this, but if you haven't read Malalai Joya's
book Woman Among Warlords, I highly recommend it. She's been called the bravest woman in Afghanistan and I've got to think, if you're brave enough to openly defy the Taliban and the murderous warlords there, you're probably the bravest woman in the world. It's a quick read and, despite the difficulties it describes, it's a page turner.
I generally prefer to get my history from novels and to use reading to escape from this world into others, so if I find it bedside reading, don't worry, I think you might, too. Disturbing? Of course. But also inspiring and uplifting to hear one woman's story of doing what needs to be done.
There's lots more about her here.