Everything that was green is now something else, the landscape shifting from breathtaking to November.
Dan is singing his melancholy rendition of cold November pears, (suspiciously reminiscent of Guns’N’Roses: Cold November Rain), while shuttling another 20 pounds of pear “seconds” out of the root cellar and into the house. Apparently we bought 150 pounds of pears a few weeks ago. Yes, 150. They were so well priced and we were having a bit of “pear-scarcity mind,” though it’s a little like the cartoon where the woman reports to her husband that fur coats were on sale, so she bought one, saving them $100! He replies, “why don’t you go buy nine more and we’ll save enough for rent.”
Pears are now the answer to everything: Do you need a snack? A sweetener for the cookies you’re baking? A wedding gift? Although, Rose told me this morning, “I don’t like the way Daddy’s hiding pear sauce in the oatmeal.” It’s pretty rough around here at the child sweatshop.
By 5pm all bets are off; it seems clear that any ambitions that involve wearing a bra, shoes or a social smile should be abandoned. The outside world is off limits and I’m happy to narrow my focus to the contents of this house: Col, Rose, Dan, elk sausage, turnips. Inside, I roam a small culinary triangle, spanning kitchen stove, cutting board and fridge, a place where everything seems to make sense. So, I invent projects in the kitchen, or elevate yogurt-making into the status of holy act, while Col conducts interviews to determine if Rose can adopt a doll named Kit; Rose waves a $500 monopoly bill at him, hoping to influence the proceedings. And, even if I forget all my aspirations towards peaceful communication, I can still produce dinner.
Kitchen project #543: sauerkraut. Those little specks are caraway seeds, not fleas. Phew.
The turnips, which multiply sneakily in the fridge, becoming *more* food nobody actually likes.
Cold frame arugula is one of the best things about November, plus the weekly cutting of which that I get to call gardening.
Kale muscling its way through November.
After dinner we play board games. I got this text from Dan yesterday: Need big wine 4 winter boardgames. Indeed. We bought Dan the game Carcassonne: hunters and gatherers for his birthday, and are still learning how to play (not sure if the wine helps or not). If your family likes board games, this list is the holy clearinghouse of board games.
Rose would like us to foster dogs in our home, or buy her a piano, or have a friend sleepover every night, but will settle for wearing the mom-sized nightgown she snuck out of my giveaway pile, while dancing to Pandora’s Kids Christmas Favorites (which I highly recommend you stay ignorant of), feeling such bewildering happiness that she’s apt to spontaneously sweep the floor and make Col’s bed.
And, Col? Oh, he is working out some profound and courageous life lessons…in, um, the lego pile. I know. We’re not exactly Tiger Mom in our expectations around here. But, I am infinitely cheered to see him fiddle around for hours, carrying out a construction vision, which includes test fits, trial and error, patient and skillful problem-solving (often, while dangling upside down on the couch), and finally, after a few days of satisfied completion, he passes the creation to Rose who is eagerly awaiting the gift. (He has been known to say, “Rose I would appreciate it if I saw you actually playing with the house you inherited”).
Otherwise, there’s indoor hackysack, which the kids and I were bumbling through happily, until someone coughDancough announced that he played tons of hacky in high school and college and began to impose rules on the game, like you can’t actually catch the hackysack in your hands. Stickler.
I’ve been reading like crazy, partially due to the happy occasion of waking up regularly at 5am and finding nobody needing anything from me. Books I’ve enjoyed: Hyperbole and a Half (I think Col and I shook the house laughing at this cartoon-style memoir, particularly the dog stories. If you are reading to kids, beware the R rated language), Living Nonviolent Communication (This book is revolutionary in billions of ways, only partially because when Col threw his shoe at the wall angrily, I was able to easily interpret his feelings and needs without taking his behavior personally, and from there healing is possible). And did you know the amazing Mary Karr has a new book out: Art of Memoir. (Gorgeous, illuminating, inspiring and one of those books I’ll likely buy). The kids just finished Farley Mowat’s, The dog who wouldn’t be, which though a bit sophisticated, is knee-slapping lovely memoir about a boy who raises a mutt and a pair of owls.
What are you reading, dear ones?
Root cellar sampler box.
If you need me, I’ll be reading and eating a cold, November pear.
November morning. Outside, two chickens are chasing the magpies who are cleaning up after Dan’s last elk hide-scraping. Inside, Col and Rose are reenacting timeless sibling dramas around colorful lego pieces that have become building blocks to a shared world. There are arguments, negotiations, collaborations and lighthearted sibling laughter that pinballs through my heart like something heavy but ungraspable. I would keep them here, in the safe refuge of snapable bricks, forever if I could.
However, on the table is Col’s breakfast bowl, rivers of unwanted oatmeal malingering and coagulating.
“Hey Col, can you take care of your breakfast dish?” A parental voice attempts to penetrate the lego fortress.
(Sounds of legos being snapped together)
“Hey, Col? Can you respond?”
(snapping…laughing with Rose)
“Col, I would appreciate a response.”
I’m guessing this isn’t an unusual scenario (non-responsiveness to unpleasant tasks), and it has become more frequent in our house. I’m sure many parents “solve” this problem with threats, i.e “If you don’t put your breakfast dish away in one minute, no more legos today.” That may work in the short term, but our belief is that threats, consequences and punishment undermine a child’s intrinsic motivation to be helpful, while eroding connection between parents and children (the very connection that supports cooperation!). Plus, we love how the kids play together in the lego pile. Taking that away is unrelated to the issue, would affect Rose, and remove a source of creativity, problem-solving and stress-reduction for the kids. Here is an account of our attempts to work with this issue using empathy and connection. I hope this is helpful to you.
We ask Col to engage in personal responsibility (brush his teeth, put his shoes on, come to a meal) so the family, together or separately, can move onto the next thing. Col doesn’t respond.
The Feelings and Needs:
Being the parent who is getting no response after repeated reminders can evoke anger, frustration, discouragement and a feeling of helplessness. Our needs are for respect, harmony and order.
Col, who is wrapped up in a book, playing, or drawing and receives an unwanted request, feels annoyance, indifference, detached, and reluctant. His needs are for choice, understanding, fun, and autonomy.
Two Guiding Philosophies:
In our family we have two guiding philosophies that help steer our responses.
1) We are each responsible for our feelings.
2) Punishment is not effective in helping children take responsibility for their role in family dynamics or in helping children to create new habits.
Because we are responsible for our own feelings, and Dan and I are tired of feeling angry, frustrated, discouraged and helpless, it was time to look deeper into this dynamic.
Through a discussion where, instead of accusations, we became curious about Col’s motives for not responding to us, we learned:
- Col often perceives us as “coming at him” with unpleasant requests.
- He wants to shield himself from these requests because they’re not fun.
- He hopes that by not responding he’ll prolong having to step up and do what is asked of him.
- It’s hard for him to transition out of reading/drawing/playing to do something less pleasant.
Having all this information was immediately helpful. It felt reassuring to Col to be understood, and to us to have some understanding into what is driving his behavior.
Where to go From Here:
First, deliver empathy. Col’s motivation is not hard to empathize with. Who wants to put down a good book and turn to the laundry that needs folding? Or, switch suddenly out of creative, non-linear play to the practical, left-brain mode of getting out the door? We can always, and easily empathize with his position.
Next, deliver information. Our household works best when everyone pitches in to do their part. We all want to play, relax, engage in creative work. We will always try to make time to do the things we love, and there will always be less appealing tasks that need attention.
Next, solutions. We put Col on this, asking him to come up with five potential solutions to the problem of not responding.
We went through each solution and discussed its potential.
- Getting up in Col’s face doesn’t feel pleasant to any of us. Also, studies on the brain show that when you raise your voice at children, instead of listening, they become fearful and their executive brain function shuts down.
- Col liked this idea of giving consequences (although this is not something he’s experienced). He thought that if we threatened something really unpleasant, it would jar him from his non-responsive fog. We explained that consequences create compliance based on power, in this case, our power over him, and that he would eventually resent this (as I would, if Dan said, “I won’t make coffee for you in the morning until you clean the chicken coop”), and that our ultimate hope was that he would choose to respond to us because he respects and cares for us.
- We had just spent the last half hour talking about this very scenario, and it seems more discussion would a) make us late for scheduled activities b) keep him from getting back to playing/reading/drawing, etc… i.e. not the most efficient use of time.
- same as above.
- Hmmm. We all liked this. We all agreed that when creating new habits, it helps to have a plan.
It’s Sunday morning; Col and Rose are circled around a pile of legos. They could stay here all day, or at least until their fingers have begun the evolutionary adaptation of sprouting their own small colorful plastic bricks.
But it’s October and things are happening outside that we just can’t miss. The sun—already tightening its daily route—is offering generous, limited beams. The land is leaning towards fall, and each day a new leafy canopy goes up in yellow flames. The very smell of autumn, that ripe fruitiness of decay, beckons, and I am magnetized to the scene of it all.
The drive to the high country is long and breathtaking: aspen groves sparking up the mountains like living luminarias. In the backseat, Col reads a New York Times Magazine article about the new “Talking Barbie,” reminding me that children are not static and fixed points on the map of “reading” or “not reading;” the past 473 days that Col read only airplane trade magazines and TinTin comic books apparently do not predict the future.
We try to keep the day’s main plan, the actual fact of hiking, underplayed. Spending unstructured time walking around this wild world is one of the greatest gifts I can give my children. And yet, they become belligerent amnesiacs when the word “hike” is uttered, patently forgetting that they come alive under the influence of wind, trees, rock and soil.
Like so many things in parenting, and in life, all we can do is commit ourselves to what feels beneficial and possible, trusting that our actions will bring about positive results at…well, some later, undisclosed date. Sometimes the committing is a daily, teeth-gritting endeavor of tremendous faith and patience. When I remind Col that telling his sister and her doll-playing friend, “I’d like to be included,” will always work to his advantage better than, “your game is boring and stupid,” my greatest hope is that these words will someday become his own. And I will offer these gentle reminders faithfully until they do.
We arrive at our familiar spot and the kids rocket out of the car. By the time Dan and I shoulder packs, the kids are inhabiting mud puddles and brushy hillsides as if they’ve been waiting decades to get back to this precise spot.
We follow a creek, spot small trout darting under shady banks, investigate abandoned beaver lodges, sample sun-swollen rose hips, guzzle secret stashes of rainwater from the hollow stems of horsetail grass, and share one fat chocolate macaroon under the golden October sun.
In a braille-style nature immersion, the kids touch every seedy grass and rake their hands through leathery fallen leaves. At one point, Rose announces, “I need to lie down right there,” and falls into a meadow of wind-flattened grasses thick as horse manes.
It’s not until our hike is over that I realize the kids didn’t complain once. Not before, during or after. And the arrow of our hiking success tank shifts from empty to full, for today at least. Every (freaking) day holds opportunity to live our values, to do the next beneficial and possible thing, to take another small, firm step on the road of our personal ethics. Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”
I take these words to heart. Without them, I’d likely be drunk, or in a sugar coma of numbed out bliss while the kids descend deeper into the lego pile. Parenting will always be more a practice of strewing seeds than one of quick results. (And this is why Dan and I conduct full, post-bedtime celebrations when Col approaches homeschooling sitting up in a chair – rather than under the table; or when Rose tells me later, “I’m glad you suggested I wait 2 weeks before buying that plastic fill-in-the-blank.”) I can commit to the daily effort of tossing seeds into the fertile ground of our family, which on an October Sunday will always mean coming to the woods to witness the season’s change.
- I shot a bull elk through the lungs.
- Then, I cried, feeling as if we duped him with our human cunning and high-tech tools.
- Field dressing was like tantric animal positioning: right hind leg raised up over my back; left shoulder propped against my hip. His hooves smelled like osha leaves.
- The Bob Dylan lyrics, after we took from you everything we could steal, drifted through my mind repeatedly. We took his 4 legs, hide, liver, heart, ribs, backstraps, tenderloins, brain, antlers and two teeth.
- For the next four days, we walked. We walked the same 5-hour roundtrip everyday: camp to kill-site, and back to camp. In: light and loose. Out: packs groaning with the gravity of meat on our backs. The simple, joyous work of a single-focused, anciently human task—no modern tools required—cleared space in my mind for feelings to swirl in and out: grief, gratitude, satisfaction, curiosity, awe.
- For five days, I didn’t worry, strategize, or brainstorm about the children. Parts of my brain that had been hyper-extended for 10 1/2 years simply relaxed.
- An animal dying in the woods is big news: flies are first on the scene, a buzzing symphony of purposeful activity. Grey jays nip meat and fat right from under your knife. Ravens swarm, claiming the carcass for their tribe (once humans have cleared out). A golden eagle is spotted leaving the scene. A black bear shows up, curious.
- An animal dying in the woods is not big news: the next morning, a herd of elk is gathered not far from the kill, bulls bugling like beasts from the underworld, cows shuttling calves across the talus. Business as usual.
- Everyday there were prayers, chants, blessings of gratitude and rituals, all reminders of our human place in this wild world: as both intruders and belonging deeply.
- On our last day, packing up camp, I felt the sense of an ending, leaving such a rarefied human experience and heading back into my modern life of multi-pronged demands. I also felt the sense of a beginning, of a new understanding of a direct relationship and responsibility between meat eater and animal.
I’ve been contracted to write the follow-up hunting story to this one, for the winter issue of Edible Southwest Colorado Magazine, so I can’t get too detailed here. I have so much more to share! And, I promise I will, you’ll just have to wait until December.
We’ve been in a supreme bottleneck for the past few days, preparing for Dan and me to leave for four nights. I probably didn’t need to make homemade granola, raw cookie balls and pecan pie filling (my answer to the suspect foods Dan brings hunting, cough*Gu shots*cough). Perhaps we could have gotten by without the acre of greens I steamed and chopped to add to camp dinners. Maybe I shouldn’t have scheduled Col’s orthodontic insertion for two days before we leave (he’s now eating, primarily, ice cream), or gone on a small sewing binge for Rose’s doll.
The logistics to leave for five days are staggering. An 8 yr old and 7 yr old brother/sister team are taking care of the chickens and cat. Neighbors are bringing in the mail. Someone else entirely is in charge of the tomatoes. The tomatoes have their own care-giver. The childcare spreadsheet I created suggests I’d be better suited to manage a circus than go hunt for food.
I keep reminding myself that in 24 hours, much of this will be out of my hands. Time will swell, and my focus will become exquisitely narrow.
(And, as my friend, Tara, so wisely reminded me: I’m going to the mountains to spend five days alone with my husband. OMG).
The truck is packed, the prayers are said.
Of course my goal is to have the opportunity to take one killing shot. But also, I hope to surrender to the experience. To let the mornings be frigid and early, the hiking be long and grueling, and the food be more calorie than cuisine, without my mind making any more of it than what simply is.
Thank you for all your support in all the many ways you’ve given it.
See you on the flip side of one woman’s small personal history,
p.s. I’m not even going to give you the jar-count for the coolers. But I will tell you there’s at least one half-gallon jar of homemade chicken soup (from our henopausal chickens, the slaughtering of which also happened this past week). Someone save me from myself. Oy.
It’s morning, heralding the inevitable convergence of four people’s needs at one kitchen table. Col is taping and folding an enormous paper airplane, enveloped in the auditory fog of his own whistling. Rose is explaining how she likes oatmeal but only under certain, somewhat changeable circumstances. (She’s also drinking milk with a straw AND medicine spoon because apparently there could always be a little more plastic involved with her food). I am pondering what to do with all the backyard grapes and apples we picked in hopes of discouraging the neighborhood bear. Dan is pushing a glossy hunting magazine in front of me, pointing to a photo of a massive bull elk, asking, “this one?”
The bull stands broadside and I mark an X on his vitals; this is the shot I pray for. On an elk facing forward, I pen an X adjacent to his mane of neck fur, into that vital pouch of lung. “Dead on, honey!” Dan says. He flips through pages, pointing out elk in varying positions. “Don’t think, just place the mark,” he instructs. He turns pages, I scrawl killing Xs.
“Ok, with this position you need to shoot higher,” Dan instructs.
“But, wouldn’t I be shooting through the scapula?”
“Sure, sometimes you’ll break through bone to get to the vitals.”
Moments like this are sobering. I don’t want to hurt anybody. In June, backpacking alone, I came across a small herd of cow elk grazing in a meadow. I took off my pack and leaned against a rock, watching their velvety brown heads lowered to the earth, tearing mouthfuls of new summer grass. When they raised watchful eyes towards me, I whispered, You’re OK. I‘m not going to hurt you.
At least not until fall.
Mornings, after meditating, I pull the hunting rifle out of the case and practice different positions: sitting, standing, kneeling, with a rest, without. Next, I do lunges and squats while sleep-rumpled kids blink their way into the livingroom, “Good morning…pant…pant…darlings!”
Every day I do at least one thing for the cause—ride my bike uphill, lunges and squats, guzzle bone broth, target practice, prepare my mind, concoct uber-calorie backpack snacks—while also putting pounds of tomatoes through the preservation paces. I read The Magician’s Elephant to the kids while wriggling into thick, wool pants. “How do they feel?” Dan asks. Col inspects and assesses the situation: “a little bottom heavy.”
Everything is still a little surreal and romantic: packing the truck with firewood, marking X’s on airbrushed photos, imagining sneaking through the Technicolor autumn woods with a goal far removed from say, trying to turn Rose against plastic.
And then, everything comes startlingly into focus. I’m in the “shooting meadow” with Dan, pushing copper bullets–which are just so alarmingly…bullet-like–into the rifle chamber. It’s 85F and I’m practicing shooting with a backpack, jacket and wool gloves. I’m wedged against a ponderosa stump, thistles biting my legs, trying to condense my multi-pronged mental checklist into one swift, decisive action.
The shots go where I want them to at 150 yards, and I allow myself to think that maybe—if all the many other factors converge with mystical-like order, then maybe—I can pull this off.
Driving home, Dan says, “Our advantage is that we’re not afraid to go where the animals are.”
“Right. Because we’re in good shape and our minds are strong, too.”
Why am I doing this? For adventure, challenge, connection, intimacy with my food, the season and the land. I’m also interested in the notion that instead of being a mom who brings home, um, library books, I could be the mom who brings home meat.
My hunting season starts in less than one week.
My friend, Mikel, asked me this morning, “Are you nervous?”
Grape-apple fruit leather
This idea blossomed much like many wayward marital brainchildren: my husband cajoled; I laughed and blew him off. The cajoling continued for five years, becoming such a regular seasonal exchange I could have penciled it in each spring. What seemed fraught with obstacles to me seemed perfectly clear to Dan: if I, too, became an elk hunter, we could double the chances of filling our freezer with meat.
Read the rest here
Scouting the big game in the big country with the big rifle (actually, that’s Col’s .22, unloaded. Just practicing hiking and quick aiming with a gun).
When I am an old lady (which is approximately 2.5761 dog years away), I won’t remember the crying, bleeding, pissing, pouting, fighting, complaining, cluttering, whining or excessive reminding. I will just remember this.
Have the loveliest of weekends, friends. Back on Monday with some exciting news (no, not pregnant, this is the 40+ year old news).
I imagine that while we humans see a sunflower as a complex assemblage of botanical moving parts, a honeybee sees it simply as a yellow powder-box of pollen. Those wildly breathtaking morning glories, pole-dancing up our arches, are likely, to a hummingbird, nothing more complicated than deep-throated bull’s-eyes of nectar. Ready, aim, fire.
My children, I’m certain, once saw me as simply a pair of milk boobs stapled onto two arms (soothing voice piped in from somewhere north). And now, what? Maybe a dispenser of strange meals not found on TV (soup from a roadkill deer ankle bone, anyone?). Also perhaps, a slightly annoying booster of Communication for All! (“You must be really disappointed, honey,” I told Col after having to extract him from soccer practice 15 minutes early. “That’s not working, Mom“ he sighed back).
And Dan? Well lets just say, whatever Dan sees when he looks at me has kept our relationship well-spiced for 20 years. My friend, Kristi, who has a similarly appreciative husband, agrees that having a partner who’s like a cross between a libidinous 14-year old boy* and enthusiastic canine, (“You, again! Wow! In that shirt? OMG. Pant pant. Awesome!”) is better than flowers, jewelry, or whatever else the media suggests women want.
In early Sept, I clip all tomato flowers and about 1/3 of the leaves, to encourage energy into the fruits that already exist.
But really, I want to talk about tomatoes. Because when I see my two garden beds of tomatoes, I see precisely two things: salsa and roasted tomato sauce. Even when the tomatoes are bitty upstarts innocently stretching their tender green limbs in the March greenhouse, I’m thinking only of their September future. I guess there’s the purpose-driven life, there’s your one wild and precious life, and then there’s me and my tomatoes, living the, er, pre-programmed life.
So, I was pleasantly, happily surprised when I broke out of my hierarchical tomato hoarding box to make stuffed tomatoes for our friend Sharon, who threw me for a loop, dinner-wise, being a vegetarian. And I realize this isn’t exactly the beacon of flexibility, not exactly the wildest thing you could do on a Friday night, but it felt like the smallest inroad into well-trod rigidity. Plus, they were crazy delicious.
*with the romantic finesse of a 43-yr old.
Stuffed, baked tomatoes
8 med sized tomatoes
1 cup finely chopped chard (or kale, spinach)
1 cup grated cheese
1/2 cup minced onion
1-2 cloves garlic
handful chopped fresh basil (or dill, cilantro, chives)
1-2 TBSP coconut oil
1 tsp salt
Slice tomatoes in half. Scoop out insides carefully, trying not to make holes in the bottom (which I did and really was fine). Reserve tomato insides in a bowl. Saute onion and garlic in coconut oil on low heat for 15 minutes. Add chopped chard and reserved tomato (you will need to mash the fresh, raw tomato. I used a potato masher. A fork would work fine) and cook for 5-10 more minutes, or until the chard is thoroughly cooked. Turn off heat. Add grated cheese and fresh basil. Mix. Add to scooped out tomato shells. Bake at 300F for approx 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is slightly browned on top.
We are at the kitchen table, the central household meeting place; the work station; the setting where entire theatre companies of emotion are played out; the place where we gather, growing imperceptible hours older together. Rose is joyously reliving our unexpected arrival at the grocery store during Free Sample Bonanza! Col’s consciousness is layered inside the pages of an airplane magazine, likely erecting a force field around himself, in which female voices bounce promptly off. Dan has been gone eight days (five hours and twenty three minutes), not that anyone’s exactly counting.
Rose: We came at the ezact right time!
Col: (Showing me a glossy page of indistinguishable techno-parts) See Mom, this is an older engine, with pistons, before turbo props.
Rose: At free sample days, they never have vegetables. Have you noticed that? Except maybe those little carrots.
Col: Remember Mama, you were wondering about turbo props?
Breathe, just breathe. There is space for all of this.
Rose: They do have fruit, though…bananas dipped in vanilla pudding, and fruit rolls. Do those count as fruit? Not really, except maybe if that was the only fruit you could find. Right, Mama?
Somehow, the kids seem more themselves when I’m solo-parenting, or magnified, like their most selves. It’s due to some abstract law of physics, like, the fewer adults around to absorb and witness, the more heightened everyone’s personality becomes. It’s great because you get to really see them – it’s like being an anthropologist in your own family. When Rose informed me that Col had climbed into the dumpster at the farmers market last weekend, I was completely unrattled. “That’s so you. Now, can you please climb out?”
Dan comes stumbling home at dusk, after nine days in the woods, green facepaint still dabbed on his ear, a veneer of wild-living adhered to his very person; it becomes him. The kids rocket out of the house and launch themselves onto either hip. I stand there in the dimly lit yard, watching the people I love most, relief and desire flooding me.
“Where is it, Daddy?”
“Your ear is green, Daddy!”
Dan shot an elk with his homemade yew bow. “Holy lovin young fat dry cow,” was the precise text I received from 11,000 feet. (“Dry” refers to the cow not nursing). The next days were spent packing the animal out, one full-day, round-trip per load: four legs, two rib racks, hide, and goodie bag: heart, liver, backstraps and tenderloins. (Oh whoops, the tenderloins got devoured at camp, never to see a freezer, kitchen…or, wife).
My mom texted me sometime between Day 5 and 9: How’s Dan doing with all that packing out?
I texted back: I think he’s in heaven.
- Dan would never, ever brag, but here’s the details: he killed this elk at ten yards, one arrow, through the lungs, she ran 60 yards and dropped.
We spill outside into the rain-refreshed garden. The chickens flow through the yard like water. September shines. There is a chair placed permanently under our grape-vine, little legs climbing atop it, hands nabbing juicy purple clusters. Col is engaged in semi-supervised fire activities in our fire pit (meeting his current needs for autonomy, adventure, competence). I am nearby, planting garlic, admiring our compost-rich soil and pep-talking myself out of suggesting to Col that he build a nice, boy scout-approved fire, rather than striking match after sulfurous match. (And maybe wondering a bit what it would be like to have a 10-year old whose current needs were safety, collaboration and cooperation).
Col: Mama, what would happen if you lit a battery on fire?
Me: Google it.
Dan fleshes the elk hide in the back corner of the yard, cheerily greeting the magpies who swoop in for a scrap. Rose flits around, eating more grapes than a hyperphagic coon, visiting me at my garlic-planting station, visiting Col at his fire pit, following the chickens, but maybe steering clear of the hide emanating its particular stink.
The swiss chard glows in the sun. The tomato vines droop with the gravity of fruit. The 3-sisters patch is an unruly, promising jungle of food. Mornings hold a touch of winter’s chill, a tease that the day still shakes off easily. Sunset is now a calculated and finite thing, reminding me, in a helpful way, that nothing lasts forever, yet gratitude is ever harvestable.