Several light years ago, Dan and I lived with our friend Donna Mae and her cat, Stinky. One night Dan was home alone and Stinky scratched at his bedroom window so Dan compliantly let her in. Twenty minutes later Stinky showed up at his window again (having got out through the cat door) and meowed cutely. Dan let her in again. Apparently this went on for an hour, Stinky riding on the ferris wheel of Dan’s window, around and around until Dan finally realized the cat was playing a game and he was the sucker.
When I came home that night I found a note from Dan saying: Stinky is no longer cool.
This still cracks us up, 13 years later, and I thought of it tonight as I realized that I too, am no longer cool. I am no longer Zen Mama beaming from my zucchini-stuffed cushion while fall bursts like fireworks outside. I am no longer singing peaceful come what may anthems while the seasonal lights flicker off. No, tonight I’m hobbling around the soggy garden, laying sheets and blankets over the tomatoes, shivering and cursing the storm blowing in like a bad omen, a bad omen that smells a lot like frost.
Just yesterday I was swooning over the cosmos bobbing around so magenta-ly and saying to Dan, “as long as this cosmos is blooming, I just don’t mind the garden starting to wither.”
Turns out, I don’t mind the garden withering as long as it’s still 80F degrees out and the tomatoes are coming off in my hand.
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Some of you have asked for more details on our homeschool co-op. Voila, details:
The homeschool co-op, which meets once a week in alternating parents’ houses is like something that Mr Roarke and Tattoo might have dreamed up for disgruntled first graders on Fantasy Island. Oh, you kids are sick of worksheets? How about hands-on science experiments demonstrating how plants expire water? How about class held outside? And hey, just take as much time as you need to eat lunch or finish a project.
The homeschool co-op’s first 4-week unit focused on plants and all the parents did such beautiful and thoughtful projects with the kids, I got teary reading about them in our collective notebook. Now we’re studying Primitive Skills and Ancestral Ways. When I heard that one parent is going to construct a brush shelter with the kids, and another is teaching them to make fires primitively, my heart soared because this is Col’s exact fantasy.
At our house, we painted pictographs on rock:
Dan got to be the Vanna White of primitive tools in his workshop of fascinating and unusual treasures. Here kids, would you like to pound deer sinew into fine threads that can be dipped in hide-glue and used to attach obsidian knife heads to antler handles?
~Oh this? Just Dan singing elk chants while shaking hoof rattles like most fathers in America~
One thing I loved that Dan taught the kids is the importance of showing respect for the animals we eat. There are many ways to do this but my favorite was “speaking well of the animal,” so at dinner lately it’s been like having a hard-of-hearing aunt at the table while the kids proclaim, “I REALLY LOVE THIS DEER BURGER. YUM. THIS FOOD IS YUMMY.”
Col is also at the local public elementary school 2 days/week, in a classroom with other homeschoolers, kindergarten through fifth grade. That classroom is a bustling, happy place and recently Col told me he had two new best friends at school. “Honey, that’s wonderful! What are their names?” “Um, I don’t know,” he replied, “the guy with glasses and the other guy.”
On the homestead:
It’s fruit season here, and we’re picking apples, saucing apples, eating apples,
drying apples (and cherry tomatoes and pears…),
I finally got the lacto-fermented pickles down (recipe here). They are so crunchy and sour and delicious, when I eat them I feel like I should be sitting at the counter of a Brooklyn kosher deli with a guy named Moshe. (Or maybe that was the Brooklyn where my dad grew up in the 1940’s and 1950’s, I hear it’s different now).
We pulled up some of the squash plants that were covered in powdery mildew, and it’s always amazing to me how little root can nourish so much plant. This zucchini root was about 6 inches, which is a good reminder that one foot of good soil is plenty deep.
I sunk some lettuce seedlings in the spaces left behind by the squash we pulled. Soon the cold frame will go on that garden bed.
Dan is working on tanning a hair-on deer hide, in the shed, at night, with the skunks.
Yesterday a package came in the mail from Lacey, who was my partner for Mary’s amazing bioregional swap. Not only did we get elderberry syrup! gnome money! and herbal skin cream! but the kids got these beautiful hats. Lacey, color choice: perfect.
Rose reading a book on carpentry, “and den the girl said, well, maybe I’m not your friend anymore when you tease me because I don’t like that.”
My current recipe collection, on the inside door of a kitchen cabinet, starting to get a bit chaotic. How do you organize your recipes?
Seen on a bike ride, still laughing about it. Stinky?
Aspen leaves from the high country.
And really guys, it’s just frost, just the end of fresh produce from the garden and farmer’s market, just the end of bare arms until sunset. That’s all. Just like every other year; no biggie. If you need me I’ll be sitting vigil with the tomatoes, sipping the fermented ginger ale.
ps: have you entered the fantastic giveaway yet?