Homestead Happenings: overhaul
Oh, winter. I think we’re at the halfway point, right between when the last dandelion bloomed and the next dandelion will bloom, scientifically speaking.
I know better than to wish for a speedy trajectory to spring; time lurches along quick enough as it is. Rosie asked me yesterday, on a freezy neighborhood walk, “but how do babies get alive?” I realized she was asking about conception, so I rambled about eggs and sperm and multiplying cells and tiny beating hearts and “does that answer your question?” “Yes,” she replied. Phew.
We did a Complete Overhaul of our house this weekend, or at least that was the snazzy term we used to get the kids excited about giving away half their possessions in our semi-annual decluttering.
Col and Rose were completely matter-of-fact about the whole thing. By some quadratic equation of shared sentimentality, they wordlessly and collaboratively culled 5 stuffed animals from the heap of fur-bearers. Then Rose took Harold and the Purple Crayon—a book she’s selected as bedtime reading at least 23 times in the past 3 months—and dropped it in the thrift store box without ceremony. Col added Tootle, the train book he begged for at age 3 from the rack of Golden Books at the pharmacy, while we waited for some batch of antibiotics for some lung-blighting infection. “Really? You’re done with Tootle?” I asked, sort of forlorn, as if Col was chucking pieces of his childhood off a cliff and laughing as they crashed to the ground.
It felt like there should be some ritual for clearing out a whole geologic stratum of the kids’ childhood. Like maybe a 563-page scrapbook with snapshots of a pajamed Rosie posing with Harold and the Purple Crayon, and the entire text of Tootle scanned in with Col’s favorite parts highlighted, just so I have something to read in the nursing home.
“Let’s keep this one, in case you ever forget the words,” Col said about the hippie version of the book Hush Little Baby (“If that lightning bug won’t glow, Mama’s gonna play on her old banjo”), which is the lullaby I sing him every night (which you could probably detect in an MRI of my brain, between the pediatrician’s phone number and the bread recipe).
During The Overhaul we found a gnarled piece of elk jerky in Col’s bed; we found a drawer of cloth wipes that hadn’t been used in two years; we found bibs—bibs!—like some ancient relic; the rotary phone of childhood! It reminded me that just as you’re in the thickest waters of babyhood, paddling the mashed banana seas with your disintegrating cloth wipes, the tides will suddenly turn, carrying those stained bibs out to sea. And you’ll miss it, the last distracted velcroing of a bib around your baby’s neck, and then 3 years later those bibs will wash up like precious sea glass, dazzling you with memories.
All in all, we carried out four boxes of kid stuff to go to the thrift store, and another box to re-gift to specific little people. I found there’s certain things I can’t let go of even though I don’t know what we’re saving them for: some preemie onesies, the 2 books we read to Col everyday in the NICU, some handmade baby blankets and the exquisite baby sweaters knitted by my aunt Jan and Joyce H.
Dan’s mom Judy is an expert clutter-clearer, and just as you think she’s swept away everything extraneous, you can mention that you’re going to a mushroom cultivating workshop and she’ll immediately ship out the corduroy, mushroom-print dress she sewed to wear over her Canadian winter snow clothes in 1973 (true story). Twelve years ago, as we were planting our first garden, Judy sent the archives of the typewritten, hand-illustrated quarterly newsletter, Northwinds, written from their Canadian farmstead in the early 1970’s. It contains stories, recipes and homesteading advice and is clearly a pre-electonic blog; if Northwinds were around today, it would totally be on my blogroll.
More happenings on the homestead:
The chickens are making the best of a snowy situation.
It helps when Rose shares her snacks (future park bench pigeon lady).
It’s probably better to be a cat this time of year.
Or a gorgeous boy.
All day our kitchen table is a hodge podge of newspapers, art projects, mail, lists, notebooks, dishes. Then, 3 minutes before dinner, it gets cleared and repurposed as a beautiful family eating space. Then by morning it looks like this again.
Dan and Col started working on new bows this week.
I made a batch of herbal lung syrup.
(astragalus, licorice root, marshmallow root, mullein leaf, lobelia, rose hips)
I want to wrap up our Complete Overhaul with some clever wisdom about kids growing up, but can you ever wrap anything up neatly in the genre of parenting? Nope. But, if you’re into train books, Tootle is waiting for you at the Methodist Thrift Shop.