First, drive up above 10,000 feet and set up camp in the conifers. Feel the emotion: “excitement-relief,” at having three days of family time in the woods. There will be scuffles and discontentment, but somehow the wind, the forests, the big space can hold it all. Note the welcome committee of chipmunks and grey jays. Announce that it’s time to go find some mushrooms.
Give children each a knife and paintbrush (to remove dirt). Feel the giddyness of our good luck! Pretend not to hear any complaints about mushrooms, about hiking. When they say, “we’ve found enough,” smile through deep breaths and explain about the fact of January.
New stash! Like a vein of orange gold on the forest floor, follow it. Cut plump fruiting bodies–these messengers from the subterranean!—and, brush off dirt, polishing each mushroom. Feel heart swell to watch the family work together, to hear Rose say, “this is actually fun!”
Last night at camp. Feel the blessing of this work: the slow walk of searching, eyes to the ground; the quick slice, freeing meaty jewels from the earth; the brushing of each silky, gilled crevice; the feasting on gifts of the season, of this place.
Bring gratitude back home. Stash bags and jars of mushrooms in the freezer, for that surreal notion of January.
I can hardly believe it’s late August. (Why do I never feel this way about, say, February?)
I do feel a little blasphemous admitting to you that I am feeling just fine about transitioning out of the perma-freedom days of summer into a little more structure. Maybe it’s because much of summer has been an extended Take Your Child To Work experiment (Rose accompanied me all this week to Mindfulness Arts Camp where I taught writing; Col’s been on the job site with Dan, building fence).
Maybe also, I am sensing that the kids will benefit from actually getting dressed in actual clean clothes (Col), or from the experience of getting needs met with other adults (Rose) plus there’s always the wild practice of leaving the house for extended hours.
(We homeschool, and the kids attend “shared school,” a fabulous program in which the kids go to public school with other homeschoolers two days/week. Plus they each have a homeschool co-op one day/week).
I’m aware that this blog was once the chronicles of small, cute kids and their mom who felt occasionally overwhelmed, at what…toy clutter? Missed naps? Bad moods that lasted for 3 minutes? Weaning children who could do basic arithmetic? For many sweet years we were immune from the rumblings of puberty, toxic mine spills, the media and its enticements, the developing beast of self-consciousness, and the complex psychology of growing up.
If I were to give you an in-depth look at our household now, you’d see me losing sleep trying to assess the true risk in the kids’ current desires (Col: flying in single engine airplanes the size of my couch; Rose: purchasing dubious plastic, outgassing, made-in-3rd-world-sweatshop items laced with a shitstorm of chemicals).
You’d also see Col and Rose locked in a 30-minute, heated, courtroom-esque drama regarding the consequences of “accidentally“ destroying each others’ belongings, while their mother is deep-breathing in the corner. (New amendment to the sibling constitution: reparations must be made!) And, Dan? He’s prepping for bow hunting season, shooting his bow across my garden every chance he gets, not bothered by much.
:: Bumper crop of purslane (and some kick ass beets, too).
:: What happens when you can not plant in rows, nor pull volunteers:
(cabbage, broccoli, marigolds, squash volunteer, morning glory volunteer).
:: Another use for that old deer skull lying around: perfect rest for the BB gun.
:: My friend Tara and I found a roadkill doe driving up to a hike last weekend. I called the roadkill guru (AKA: that man I married), who instructed: “Get close and smell it. Feel under her armpits – still warm? Eyes still glassy, or clouded up? You gotta knife? Now, gut her, throw her in the Subaru, and park in the shade.” No can do, but she’ll be waiting for you at mile marker 48, honey.
Rose, introducing her friend, Jordan, to the pleasures of smoked deer heart.
Heading off to mushroom country for the weekend, with ample butter and garlic in the cooler in case we get lucky.
Last Thursday—bodies crammed into semi-dry, sand-pocked bathing suits, inner tube cinched to bike trailer, kid-friendly provisions jostling in the backpack—we were out the door to meet friends at the Animas River. Just before hopping on bikes, my friend Sue called with the cryptic news that she heard from a neighbor who heard from a friend who saw on Facebook: a mining spill at the Animas River’s headwaters in Silverton was coursing down the river, the one into which we were fifteen minutes from jumping.
Photo by Jonathan Thompson of High Country News, accompanying this excellent article.
That night we joined a throng of people on a river beach to bear witness as the toxic plume—an opaque orange bisque—merged into the previously clear water. Like a vigil for an ill friend, maybe the one friend every local has in common, we showed up without much more to offer than our care. The orange water flowed past us. Orange. There were gasps amongst the crowd. Parents hissed anxiously at their kids to get back from the edge (ok, that was us). People stared in shock at the infested waters, some discussing theories and predictions, others in what seemed to be quiet prayer. It seemed unthinkable that any living creature could survive these waters painted in thick metals.
Photo courtesy of Mountain Studies Institute
As NYT writer Julie Turkewitz says, the Animas River is the cultural soul of this patch of Colorado. It’s the heartbeat, the lifeblood, a wild aqua ribbon bustling with heron, deer, muskrats, kingfishers and children. It’s the place where this summer my kids found a garter snake with a live fish in its mouth; the place where canada geese lead fuzzy, yellow goslings through the paces of childhood; the place where teenagers soused on hormones tether their inner tubes and pledge forever love; it’s a place that offers something wild, something adventurous, something soothing, as well as shelter and food to many different species.
Having a wild river run through town is like having access to an ever-changing public art installation. It’s the very definition of dynamic, its seasonal and climactic changes are the true current events of this town. In the winter it’s iced over on brutally cold mornings. In the spring the river swells in rushes of sediment-brown run-off. In the summer, the water is clear, cold, and inviting. And in fall, the river shrinks, its rocky bones exposed. This river is the backdrop of our lives, a living metaphor reminding us of the nature of change.
I am also aware that in many ways we are all guilty. We all benefit from mining—hello, ieverything—but it happens on other continents and fouls other people’s backyards. Really, this is a small sampling of the way our desire for the next cool thing always has repercussions.
There is some good news. Macroinvertebrates and fish seem to be holding on. The surface water is, one week later, at pre-event levels for heavy metals. The issue of toxic mining debris has entered public discussion. There is some bad news. The toxic spill continues to pollute downstream waters. The orange muck has settled into the banks and river bottom, and is draped over rocks. There are 400 more mines around the headwaters of Silverton, potential disaster sites in the making. Many farmers and ranchers depend on this river for irrigation. A portion of our drinking water comes from the Animas.
There is still much unknown.
One week later, our sandy bathing suits still hang in the bathroom waiting for better news.
We’re in the late afternoon vortex, everyone milling around the house like they’re auditioning for the role of most irritable, lethargic family member. The kids are bickering for the same half-hearted reason I keep cruising by the chocolate, because it seems like it might be the answer to something.
Their argument is escalating much like an unproductive cough, and I find myself shocked at how two people sprung forth from such enduring, hopeful love could throw such brutal barbs at each other. And, it’s not that I expected them to skip through the daisies of life perpetually holding hands (OK, maybe I did a little bit), but I wasn’t quite prepared for the way they’d take on bickering like it was a daily vitamin in which they were deficient.
Their fighting puts me on some crazy alert, ringing the panic button of my nervous system. I retreat to my room to breathe in enormous, gasping inhales and to dose myself with self-empathy. Their fighting is so upsetting for me. I wish they appreciated each other more. Peaceful communication is so important to me. It turns out self-empathy is the elephant tranquilizer for my nervous system. I remember, miraculously, that most siblings have a little pre-programmed button labeled: I need to be seen as an individual; push here for proof.
Also, I remember that my kids are kind, generous people who often get a little derailed, a little provoked, a little panicked. They need me to dive deep into the murky soup of their discord, prepared to listen, validate feelings and to surface with better understanding of their individual needs. It can be messy and full of spluttering trials. We all eventually swim into the light.
I emerge from my room with the intention of listening without judgment, and the kids are curious enough about my temporary refuge-taking that the trance of their bickering is broken. They need help, they announce, to figure out who has senior rights to the inner tube recently resurrected from its spidery habitat in the shed. I moderate, showing no preferential treatment, even though I’m tempted to announce that a certain someone has taken on the same smug, entitled attitude common to dictators. This little dictator is ultimately kind and generous, I remind myself, with a new and complex need to feel separate from parents, and from that sibling who’s always lurking close by. We call that need autonomy, or independence, or even freedom.
The kids make a plan, which includes multiple contingencies. I fix my mouth in a smile, as self-encouragment to believe in their solutions. I listen, repeat their plan back to them, and flee to the arugula patch, the harvesting of which has become my daily therapy: Pluck leaves, throw stems to the chickens, hose down leaves, bag up, repeat. I find my lungs expanding.
By the time the kids trickle outside Rose is trying to teach Col the precise hand claps that go with Down By The Banks of the Hanky Panky. She’d like him to observe a dissertation-style lesson of coordinating hands movements with singing and Col says, “Rosie, I know it,” and it begins to rain, which is the best news the Earth could deliver. I run into the greenhouse and bring the fennel plants outside to be bathed in real, live, falling rainwater. The grosbeaks, house finches, and house sparrows, who’ve camped out at our feeders all summer are silent for once. The kids execute disjointed hand claps while singing, cheerfully, out of synch. And we all stand under the light, gentle rain and are absolved.
The clouds part and the sun throws down medicinal beams. We strap the inflated inner tube, which feels as coveted as the Hope Diamond, to my bike trailer, and ride down to the river. Here, the ever-changing Animas River reflects it all: the ebb and flow, the dynamism, the shaping and eroding of emotions, qualities, and needs. Turns out, Col is more interested in searching for garter snakes with his friends then tubing around, and so even though the 8-point inner tube contract stated that he would have exclusive rights for the first two hours, Rose takes possession (which, honestly, was written into Contingency Plan A).
I kick back in the sand with Mama-friends, knowing that conflict happens, there is a way through, and we can all walk back into the light.
When Col announced that he’d like to grow a three sisters garden this summer, I said, all casual, “Sure, honey, let’s make that happen.” But inside, the 9-piece mariachi band started blasting the tune: Here’s something you and your son can enjoy, together! (Because when he asks, like he did this morning, if he can hot-glue some popsicle sticks into a boat and then burn it, I’m a little perplexed).
A 3 sisters garden is a Native American tradition, in which corn, beans and squash are planted together, each benefiting the whole. The beans climb the tall corn and add nitrogen to the soil, and the squash vines crawl around, their platter-sized leaves keep moisture in the soil and discourage weeds.
Growing the 3 sisters garden has been like having a living art installation in the backyard. Everyday I behold the changes. After two months, the three species have entirely merged, each plant in constant symbiotic motion, much like people who make up a household. Bean vines swing from corn-stalk to corn-stalk, and climb up the thick, straight poles. The corn plants rise towards the sun, spooling off wide, grass-like leaves. Squash tendrils anchor themselves on the bases of the corn, while their vines snake through the whole wild patch.
*Pictured in the mix here, amaranth, which appears to be the 4th sister (also a food plant cultivated prehistorically in North and South America).
The whole 3 sisters garden appeals to my agricultural sense of intermingling species, of trusting the wisdom of the plants, and of allowing each variety to perform their own heroic act within the symbiosis of the community.
Also, I did let Col glue a popsicle stick boat together this morning and then burn it in the fire pit, because I couldn’t think of any reason not to.
The door of summer has swung wide open. Every day we practice the age-old parenting art of turning the kids loose. We turn them loose at the river, the overgrown alley behind our house, our grubby, chickened-up backyard, and in our neighborhood, where they become a roving band of child explorers seeking trampolines and the best household snacks.
My own ambitions seem to be falling away like dandelion seeds unhusked by the wind. I’ve put aside projects which just two months ago seemed wrapped up in my very identity, in my blurry notion of success.
There is something about summer, perhaps in observing how every living thing performs its own, particular miracle—squash blossom receiving honeybees—without undue stress or striving, that inspires me to let up on myself. In fact, summer seems to be making me an offer: If it’s not easy and fun, try letting it go and see what happens.
This means we’ve dropped homeschooling with workbooks, agendas and expectations. I am not taking work that doesn’t feel fun and engaging (and, interestingly, fun and engaging work keeps presenting itself). The garden feels more like a collaborative effort between myself and a few trillion microorganisms than something I need to engineer into a semblance of control.
And surely there are times for great effort. But now seems the time to allow, to sink in, to trust, to enjoy, to let the e-mails pile up and go camping while the sun is high; to suck the time-limited nectar of a columbine flower; to pause for celebration of a ripe garden tomato; to crack a beer and plant myself by Col’s side as he hot-glues a model airplane and unleashes a torrent of unsolicited sharing that fills me with connection. To understand that this season is fleeting and filled with precious gifts.
The kids are on board, because of course, this is the way they always, wisely, live. Whenever I get jacked up over What’s the Summer Homeschooling Plan? I stop, breathe and take a look at Col and Rose, who are each on their own unstoppable trajectory of learning.
Here is a guest post I wrote for Simple Homeschool on how we homeschool in the summer. I have to re-read it frequently, to remind myself.
We are at 10,100 feet. The sky hangs heavy. The distant mountains, like an art lesson in shading, are veiled in deepening obscurations of grey. Lightning roams faraway peaks. Dan and I exchange raised eyebrows, noting without words that a meteorological smackdown is likely coming our way.
The rain comes gentle at first, tapping an exploratory tune. We gather under our 12 X 12 tarp stretched across spruce trunks. The kids grow quiet and watchful, concern flicking across their faces. Dan and I put on our “we’re the adults in charge!” game-faces. The thunder crashes through the mountains and rain batters the tarp. The storm is fierce and powerful, loud and humbling, and we are at its mercy. We watch the sky inject yellow bolts of electricity into the peaks.
Time passes. The rains slows. Clouds lift and scuttle away. Beams of sun beckon us out from under the tarp. The lights have come back on, and we laugh and bask in the invitation.
The wild storm of emotions
These wild, quick-moving mountain storms are a metaphor for so much. Our children’s feelings swirl in like heavy clouds, like thunder. They are fierce and powerful, loud and humbling. And yet, they evaporate, and the light returns.
On our way up to the mountains for a recent camping trip, Rose was conducting an intensive Q & A session, as some of us do when a little anxious. (The woman who tested me on the driving portion of my Driver’s License test said, afterwards: “Were you a little nervous?” “Yeah, why?” I answered. “You never stopped asking questions that whole 15 minutes.”)
Rose wanted to know if there would be mosquitos, how long the drive would be, what our first snack would be. She became desperately hungry the minute we got about 100 feet away from our refrigerator. (Even though we purposely tanked up on food before piling in the truck). She no longer wanted to go camping. She wanted something fun to do, now. She wondered why we always made her go camping and if we were going to have to hike and if we were going to have any fun. She didn’t think so. She made the whimpering sounds of a hurt animal.
I’ve noticed that when I get into a panic that the storm of my children’s emotions will never end, I begin to believe that the most important thing is to Stop The Thunder Now rather than connect with what’s causing the weather. And really, all our children’s “bad” behavior is a function of them trying to get their normal, human needs met.
And really, this is good news. When all our efforts towards initiating “appropriate consequences” and tiered systems of punishments are put towards determining our children’s unmet needs, the road to peace becomes shorter. Your child will always benefit more from the lasting power of being understood than the short term faux-fix of a time out.
Field Guide to Weathering the (Emotional) Storm
1) Put your own oxygen mask on first. It takes a lot of patience, resolve and compassion to meet a child’s anger, complaints, fears, etc… We don’t like to see our children suffer, and their big emotions can feel scary and endless. When you feel that storm brewing, ask yourself what you need to be present. Deep breaths are a good place to start. Direct some empathy towards yourself. Shit. I really wanted to enjoy this beautiful drive. It’s hard to give up my agenda. Remind yourself that this is not an emergency. (If your anger needs more attention—and I have been there—give yourself some space to calm down before addressing your child. We usually regret things said in anger).
2) Set an intention. It can help to set an intention to listen, to connect, to not interject with solutions, to stay present and calm.
3) Empathize with the feelings. As long as no one’s in danger, set the behavior aside for a moment and look for the feelings. Empathizing means “feeling into,” letting your child know they’re heard, not that you necessarily agree with them or will change to accommodate their wishes, but that their feelings are safe and allowed. You sound anxious, Rose. You sound worried that you’re not going to have any fun this weekend.
4) Avoid judgmental labeling. Pointing out to your child that they’re complaining or whining can put them on the defensive, or bring up shame, and take you farther from connection and resolution.
5) Investigate Needs. What is the need behind the emotion? Make some guesses. Are you feeling sad and worried about being away from home all weekend? Is it hard to leave behind the familiar and head into the unknown? Are you annoyed that Daddy and I often choose to go camping on the weekend even when that’s not your first choice? (The needs might be for comfort, reassurance, familiarity, fun, autonomy).
6) Find a win-win solution. Often being heard and understood is enough and no solution is needed. If it seems a solution is needed, see if you can come up with one that meets everyone’s needs. How about as soon as we get the tents set up, you choose a special snack while I read you a chapter from our book?
This is all a true story. Sometimes our kids get anxious and sad as we drive away from the familiar luxuries of home into a wild world which may demand a little more resilience, imagination and flexibility. When they’re in this place of worry (which can look a lot like complaining) we don’t remind them how much fun they always have (which is true), nor do we give up our desire to be in the mountains as much as possible in the summer. We also don’t numb the discomfort with snacks. Instead, we wade right into the storm, naming the feelings, giving them space and love, knowing it will all pass.
Why not just punish “bad” behavior and move on? If we remember that all our children’s behavior is a function of them trying to meet their normal human needs, we can see clearly that punishment, or consequences will never address the root issue. In fact, it may weaken connection, trust and respect between parent and child. When children are allowed space for all their feelings, they understand that feelings come and go, are nothing to fear, push away or numb. The more emotional safety your child experiences, the more they can state their feelings and ask for what they need rather than act out.
I have been asked by some local parents to facilitate a biweekly group on Peaceful Parenting. How exciting! Here’s what it will (likely) look like:
We’ll meet for roughly two hours twice a month for 4-6 months for discussion, practice and questions.
We will discuss:
* How to turn praise into appreciation.
* Effective alternatives to punishment.
* How to motivate children without rewards.
* The five love languages and how they relate to parenting.
* The difference between strategies and needs.
* Becoming aware of the stories we tell ourselves.
* How to say “yes” more without compromising your boundaries.
* How to determine the needs behind your child’s behavior.
* How to make empathy your first response.
* How to make requests, not demands.
The cost is $25/person per session.
Space is limited and the group is half full already. Please contact me if you’re interested.
All Col and Rose will remember about our camping trips when they’re 40:
The big stand up:
By the way, the delightfully exciting thing that is happening here in this household is that the kids and the parents are meeting at the precise crossroads of intersecting movie tastes. Which means family movie night need not include the predictable foibles of an animated, whining monkey. Though, it does seem to include Rose asking approximately twenty question per scene.
We all recently gathered on the couch to watch The Right Stuff, a historical dramatization of the early inroads of NASA’s space program. We all loved it! It had aviation excitement (for Col), and relationship subtleties (for me and Rose), the intense rigours through which astronauts were put in hopes of being selected (Dan), and an interesting look at striving in the name of national pride, and (holy moly), the extreme risk-taking personality laid bare. A lesson in so much.
We also recently loved, Wild Horse, Wild Ride (instant play on Netflix), a documentary on a program in which people are given 100 days to tame a wild mustang. The film follows several different contestants and their horses, detailing their different approaches, and ultimately their love and connection with these large, wild and soulful creatures.
I would love any suggestions you all have for family friendly movies. Col is 10, Rose is 8.
I also want to recommend the memoir, Merle’s Door: lessons from a freethinking dog, by Ted Kerasote. It’s a beautiful story chronicling Kerasote’s adoption of a feral dog near the San Juan River, and what he learns over 14 years of honing his communication with the dog. They build an unusual relationship, based more of mutual understanding and compromise (much like the kind of parenting I strive for) than the typical insistence on obedience. I read portions of this to Col and Rose, which they also loved.
Book recommendations welcome, too, as always.
Also, I am teaching two upcoming classes, to which I’d like to invite you:
Fermented Beverages: Kombucha and Ginger Ale
Tuesday, July 14th 6pm – 7:30, at Durango Natural Foods Co-op. (970) 247-8129. Co-taught with Jennifer Smith.
Learn the art and science of making these easy, delicious, living & nutritionally-beneficial drinks.
Participants will sample both drinks, go through a step by step process to make each,
learn how to obtain a kombucha scoby & go home with a ginger ale starter.
Free scobys [an acronym for Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast] available to first 7 sign ups!
* little known fact: I’ll be bringing the latest batch of chokecherry mead. Potent stuff.
* other little known fact: Jennifer Smith, my co-teacher, is a wealth of nutritional information.
$17/Co-op member $20/non-member
Space is limited, so prepay/sign up with one of our friendly Co-op cashiers.
Wild Weed Identification and Cuisine
Soaking dandelion greens and purslane: our daily multivitamin.
Wednesday, July 29th, 6pm – 7:30, at Durango Natural Foods Co-op. (970) 247-8129
Common garden weeds are packed with nutrients, adapted to native soil conditions and natural rainfall. Meet at Rachel’s in-town garden to identify common, edible weeds, discuss history, culture, philosophy, learn the best time to pick them, which parts are edible and how to prepare them.
Learn which common weed has Omega-3 amounts to rival flax seeds; and which plant has more nutrients than spinach, though will never ask as much from you as a gardener.
Learn appetizing ways to introduce these nutrient dense plants into your meals.
Return to the Co-op to enjoy delicious creamy amaranth-artichoke dip as well as a diverse wild weed salad!
Recipes & handouts included.
$17/Co-op member $20/non-member
Space is limited, so prepay/sign up with one of our friendly Co-op cashiers.
Amaranth: gorgeous and free.
I absolutely love teaching this class on edible weeds. Eating the highly nutritious plants that flourish without fuss feels like one of the most revolutionary acts we can perform at home.
And, also the hero bringing snow to the people…or, er, the beer cooler.
I am filled with gratitude.
But also, a little perplexedness, as my post last week didn’t go out to my lovely, faithful subscribers (AKA my mom and a few others). The post is here, if you missed it.
p.s. can you let me know you got the e-mail notification on this post?
We awake to the red naped sapsucker hammering on the telephone pole. We fall asleep to the neighborhood kids shrieking happily (and Col blundering out of his room half asleep but still able to identify voices, “Jebby and David are outside, keeping me up…” It’s so fun, the communal neighborhood of summer living! In fact, one pair of siblings are such frequent visitors that when a day passes without their knock at our door, I worry about them).
The truth of our house.
Between sapsuckers and post-sunset revelry, the days last forever, unspooling like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. We start in agenda-less freefall, all options open. The kids paw through the lego pile together, speaking their own insider sibling language. I chop rhubarb while singing a little song to myself about how lovely everything is. Next, the heat of sticky boredom rises, entangling them. They bicker heartily over the same tattered arguments, just to see if a new angle pops up.
I generally stay out of the fray, though my ear is always tuned to catch a slight and dangerous rise in Rose’s voice. I casually mention from my rhubarb station: “I heard Rose say, stop, did you, Col?” Because we all know Rose has about three warnings in her before she strikes.
Col makes a lego laptop and Rose insists her doll needs to use it. I issue Parental Broadcast # 34 about requests being easier to hear than demands. She reframes. He acquiesces. I exhale. Rose cheerfully asks Col, How do you spell, Frozen? I hope we can get it on Netflix!
Food prep, dishes, food prep, dishes. Col approaches me with the book, Chino: Warbird Treasures Past and Present, eyes gleaming and ready to explain some WWII airplane terminology I’m not going to understand. Stay present, I tell myself. Ailerons, fuselage, hypersonic. Blink yourself awake, I hiss, as my attention sneaks away.
A flock of vultures soar over the house, so low we can see their feather-less red heads. We gather at the window, wondering and watching them merge into sky. I gaze down at the garden, which rises to the snake charmer’s song of heat and rain. I’m in perpetual amazement that we planted all those trees. We read a chapter of our latest book and the kids melt into me, our heartbeats synchronized, our nervous systems unclenching.
Rose has turned the livingroom into an Egyptian burial for her doll, tiny plastic shoes and headbands lined up tidily. Dresses and nightgowns displayed across the floor, taking up an unreasonable amount of our 800 sf. I grumble inwardly about the selling of consumer culture to little girls, while Rose brushes acres of faux doll hair onto the floor.
Food prep, dishes, food prep, dishes.
We file outside. It’s 95F with afternoon clouds marching down from the mountains. There’s 3 pairs of boy/girl sibling neighbors playing Hide and Seek in our funkified yard. I say a little prayer about safety from spiders, rusty nails and errant antlers. Feeling like I accomplished something monumental along the lines of tending to basic needs, emotion-coaching, supporting growth and freedom, conflict-resolution, I head upstairs for a beer.
I text Dan at work about the problem of drinking the last beer without replacing it. He texts back something about women’s soccer. Col finds a house sparrow fledgling, not the first which has flopped early and helplessly from its nest.
The siblings all go home, and I feel—despite the missed beer opportunity—that summer is perfectly itself, equally full of awe, adventure, freedom and the luckiness of a little boredom. I open the fridge, thinking about dinner, and wondering how to match up everyone’s different tastes with our paltry supplies. Col calls out, “Look! Look!” Everyone gathers at the window, searching. Col continues to point and shout. Rose says, “Col, it’s just a hummingbird.”
But, it’s more than just a hummingbird. It’s the avian equivalent of summer, so fleeting and rare and precious that sometimes all you can do is point and shout, and then take it in with an exhale of gratitude.
:: Green gentian lives between 30-80 years before flowering once in a blaze of creamy-petaled glory, then dying. There are always some green gentians flowering, but in periodic banner years, thousands of them bloom in one area. This year seems pretty good already.
:: These days are long enough to get up high, have a little cook-out in the woods and play the extremely exciting and risky game of: throw the paper airplane through the fire.
:: Everlasting salad # 76, the lambsquarters version.
:: Col to Dan: So, I’m thinking about putting one of the engine cartridges from my rocket on this balsa airplane…do you think it’ll work?
Dan: Are you trying to make the thing fly, or just have a haywire experiment?
Col: Haywire experiment.
See that cartridge thingy between the wings? Col attached it to fuses and got to launch it in a park near our house. The whole thing was slightly alarming and confusing to me (and ultimately successful!) Thank you, Dan, for discerning when Col’s going to blow up the neighborhood or just do a little fun propulsion.
They built this stand for the launch. That’s what a cool dad Dan is.
All the love,