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homestead happenings: sprung

2014 May 7
by Rachel Turiel

I saw a house wren zipping around the rabbit brush yesterday, brown-suited, lively, and back from its Mexican winter. And I got it like a smack to the head: spring is the return of life!


Dan’s been feeling up baby apricots swelling under just-dropped blossoms, and making me beam when he compliments the peas inching up along their fencing. Amazing things are happening…like the whole biomass of every leafing tree! The fruit trees are out of control, bursting into bloom like the floral manifestation of their own joy.


I was on a walk with my parents when Dan called to report a single white-winged dove lurking in our yard. “Only five reported sightings in La Plata County,” he told me, his voice all italics. These rare sightings are explained by birds having been “blown off course,” which conjures something magical, lucky, and inexplicable — much the same way I found myself alone and new in La Plata County 19 years ago.


Another face of Rocky Mountain spring.

This sighting, naturally, has inspired the daily playing of the gorgeous Emmy Lou Harris song, Blackhawk and the White Winged Dove, which is a huge improvement over the freaking Frozen soundtrack as interpreted by a 6-year old who knows 20% of the words. Plus, who can resist a 6-year old singing about punch clocks, muscatel and aching hearts.

On the homestead:

:: After a seasonal hiatus, Dan is back working on the shed/writing studio/art studio/playhouse. Maybe there’s some feminist ethic decrying the panting after a man pounding nails into a 45 degree slope, but apparently it’s lost on me.


:: Greens popping in the cold frames.


:: Luckily there are plenty of weedy decoys to lure chickens away from the lettuce, spinach and arugula.


:: Did I tell you I manifested a garden apprentice? She moved in downstairs and reminds me of myself at 24, which is to say passionate and just a little anxious about dropping off what seemed like her expected career trajectory. Having her around is making me 25% more lazy, soft and grateful. Also, I can call her after blundering out of the house in the morning and ask her to do all the garden chores I neglected and she’s all “thank you – what a peaceful and grounding way to start the day.” Plus she homeschooled herself for high school. Plus she knows how to talk to 40-year olds and 6-year olds. Plus this tattoo:


(Planting 160 onions together). Her tattoo: this being human is a guest house. From The Rumi poem that you should go read right now.

:: Col got an opportunity to ride in a 2-seater airplane last weekend, 2-seater as in him and the pilot. They cruised over town, and after I extracted my heart from my belly, I got extremely excited for him.



He’s in a booster so he can see out the window, which made the whole thing slightly more cute than terrifying. 

:: At the dandelion festival last weekend, Col and his homeschool co-op sold lemonade and the herbal salve they made to raise money to buy trees to combat climate change.


:: Meanwhile, Rose and her friend Fawn sold baked goods and spent every cent they made (as they made it) to buy flea market shoes, purses and clothes.


:: While we were at the Dandelion Festival, Dan was hiking and found this elk antler “way in there.”


The crazy thing is Dan has three other antlers that match it perfectly (two of which have been cemented into the root cellar roof for 2 years, which is nuttier, knowing that he can transpose the precise shape of those antlers onto the one he just found). He’s pretty sure they’re from the same genetic stock, i.e. fathers and sons and grandfathers. I asked Dan if he found these four matching antlers in the same general area, and he whips out a piece of paper, draws a map of the precise place he found each one. For contrast, sometimes he forgets how old he is.


:: In other Dan news, his roadkill-karma luck has been outrageous. (A side benefit from his job, which has no actual benefits, is that he drives all over the region early in the morning, the better to spot roadkill). He’s been putting whole deer shoulders in the root cellar to age for a few weeks, then rubbing them in bacon fat and salt and roasting them in the oven. We’re getting seriously spoiled.


One beautiful deer shoulder, basted and roasted. Sometimes we gather round like wolves and just pull meat off the bone. (Is that OK to say?)shoulder

:: A man in his den (or his, er, corner of the room that he shares with a sister).


Lets get all the children on this haunting working class anthem:

With all the springy love,


8 Responses leave one →
  1. mollie permalink
    May 7, 2014

    At least Rose will look good while Col’s fighting climate change.

  2. May 7, 2014

    Oh My, oh my. Where to start? I love every bit of this post. And thanks for posting the link at the end, so we can listen to the song while writing our comment :o) – Emmylou Harris is one of my favourite singers, and this song used to play a lot in my student years.

    The size – and story – of this elk antlers is amazing. I must say that it sounds a good combination to me, taking the antler home while his owner keeps majestically grazing the mountain, and being blessed in return by plentiful roadkills to feed your family :o)

    Also, how lucky is your garden apprentice, with her perfect tattoo and all? Sweet Peas!

    Last but not least, Col’s flying adventure and the way you tell us about it just made my day. It’s almost midnight here, so I hopefully I can dream of being a white-winged dove, and of flying above your generous garden. xo

  3. Chris permalink
    May 7, 2014

    Great post! Thanks for the reminder of all the glory that is Spring here..and new life. I needed it.

  4. Ami Brusca permalink
    May 8, 2014

    Oh how I love your writing and the slice of life it serves up! Thank you for putting it out there, but really thanks to your whole family for being so outrageously awesome.

  5. Lindsay permalink
    May 8, 2014

    You’re stuffed to the gills children’s book shelf makes me feel better about my overflowing book shelves. I swear they multiply with a little late night biblio hanky panky!

  6. Andrea permalink
    May 8, 2014

    there are so many wonderful things to comment on here …

    i will turn my attention to that hubby of yours and confirm that being able to recall ones own age is an entirely useless factoid. being able to draw a map of a precise place, is not.

    so, i volunteer him to teach ‘map drawing from memory’ in your home school co-op. your welcome, Dan.

  7. nan permalink
    May 9, 2014

    I can not even imagine how thrilled you were for Col, and how terrified you were at the same time. Great parenting job of letting him find his wings.

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