Time was (not so long ago), you couldn’t keep our little gal indoors. Especially at the sight of snow (or rain). We called her a little Siberian baby because she’d leap out into the cold – sledding, snow-forting, making snow faeries, climbing trees, journeying around the yard to see the spells of Winter. It didn’t matter how cold, even if it was just for a bit, D wanted to be out. Summer would come and she would pine for snow (Solstice decorating in July was a thing for her).
Now, I have to woo/cajole/bribe her into her warmy gear and get the heck out there! Once she’s out, she stays out for awhile. There have been many snow women, babies, dogs constructed, sledding trails smoothed out, and icicle sculptures (yes, last week, she really did cut her eye getting an icicle down from the side of the house!). Today, she will be out again. We had a stretch of bitter cold – too bitter for me to even let her out, but now there’s a little snow that may not last with the pendulum swings of this Winter’s weather. I’m happy to stay in my slippers, indoors, and take pictures though we always try and go for a couple of family Winter/snow walks while it lasts (I should probably put one of those on the schedule – our woods are so pretty this time of year).
Lately, D has been writing a novel (The War of the Animals, with illustrations), staging rescued Barbie fashion shows (and dance clubs), making bracelets, getting ready for another cycle of her ceramics class, and considering high school (the charter school of the arts is moving its campus closer to us, so we are thinking about it…). I think her to-do list of the day is sledding and learning to make pudding (it’s good to have goals).
The moon is full tonight an illustration for sheet music, an image in Matthew Arnold glimmering on the English Channel, or a ghost over a smoldering battlefield in one of the history plays.
It’s as full as it was in that poem by Coleridge where he carries his year-old son into the orchard behind the cottage and turns the baby’s face to the sky to see for the first time the earth’s bright companion, something amazing to make his crying seem small.
And if you wanted to follow this example, tonight would be the night to carry some tiny creature outside and introduce him to the moon.
And if your house has no child, you can always gather into your arms the sleeping infant of yourself, as I have done tonight, and carry him outdoors, all limp in his tattered blanket, making sure to steady his lolling head with the palm of your hand.
And while the wind ruffles the pear trees in the corner of the orchard and dark roses wave against a stone wall, you can turn him on your shoulder and walk in circles on the lawn drunk with the light. You can lift him up into the sky, your eyes nearly as wide as his, as the moon climbs high into the night.
You blink, and it’s Tuesday again. As we settle in to the store/bakery space we turn our attentions back to the homestead. Rearranging, cleaning, and purging all make a good Mid-Winter focus for us. Punxatawny Phil calls me home every year to consider how I want the rest of my Winter to go – it will be Winter either way, Phil, but how we want to spend it is up to us; I’m going for a more positive spin this year. Generally, the Winter weighs me down. I have bad Winter history, a bit of SAD, and my health has not been the best in the past but this year is my first Winter where I am not under Lyme treatment (and I don’t have Shingles again, knock on wood, and J isn’t having surgery), and we have a whole new life! So, positive Winter thoughts are keeping us warm.
The child has been designing her garden space, expanding and extolling her garden delights. And we are dreaming of sensible but aesthetic pockets of growth and care. I always fantasize about flower gardens but I need my flowers to have multiple purposes – either medicinal/edible or rewilding for nativization and bug/bird benefit, or as stabilizing water accumulation, hyperaccumulating toxins, etc. I can’t just have flowers because they make me happy. At some point, that sort of simplistic need left me for something more important – like leaving the world a better place than I found it. Don’t get me wrong, when all these things come together, I’m pretty happy – it is a good goal, pleasure by purpose or at least purposeful action.
Join us at the store for a special day with The Wild Seed Project of Maine to talk about native plant spaces and getting those native plants started now: Thurs, February 2, 1pm-3pm (store open 10am-4pm). The seed swap is continuing (bring some to share!), and all seed books are 10% off until Spring (March 21st).
Since the multiple snowstorms, our week has been shifted and so shall our reportings and plans. We cut the ribbon with the big scissors – the gracious mayor, the chamber of commerce, and a local state senator (who is an organic farmer- perfect fit!) were all welcoming and kind to come and usher us in. We’re officially official now (now onto signage…). And then Fedco seed saver Clark Heijbroek offered a great demonstration on saving and choosing seed to save, resplendent with a little seed swap (still open at our store – with 10% of all seed books until Spring). Good fun was had by all.
Meanwhile a couple of rounds of good snow have hit our little pocket, I think we are up to about 16″ and another storm is coming in tonight (they reckon around 9″, but the other day they said 3-6″ and we got 10″…we shall see). We’re hoping it’s good for an impromptu sledding party. I like to make a hot pot of something good and invite folks for our nice racing trails that J & D carve out of our little hill. It’s a perfect hill for a good ride but not too long of a slog back up.
And then next week is our Imbolc celebration with a Scotch Tasting – I think technically it’s our 8th or 9th, with mostly the same core crew and then new folks we want to have good conversation with who might enjoy J’s kooky way of explaining the nuances of Scotch Whisky (he’s won me over a little, sometimes, with some that don’t taste so much like ‘skeleton pee’ – thank you long lost Ian). So, we decided to rearrange most of the house into a new configuration – cozy books by the woodstove now, a lounge in ‘the dining room’ (we named him Stan), an improved pantry and therefore kitchen.
I was reading a little article earlier about how to ‘slow down’ time, which is just to pay attention better/more feeding right into my deep belief in non-multi tasking. A feat to be sure in this day and age, with our enculturation (especially women), but it’s key – do one thing 100%, then you are more likely to do it well, and be in sync with the real rhythms of time, not clock time. Slow and easy, like a lover’s stroll, a forager’s pace, like we have all the time in the world.
First things first – Grand Opening at the store January 21st Noon, Come to Stone Broke Bread & Books, 347 Water St, Gardiner, ME for a ribbon cutting by the mayor and a Seed Swap event. Hopefully we’ll have a seed saver here to chat about best practices and to answer any questions. Seedy Bread is on the menu to entice you.
I had envisioned more marvelous culminations such as our store signage and a speaker series but alas, it all happens so fast and many of these things take time to get set up. But all we really need is some delicious bread and an engaged community to share it with. I’ve been working on some new art practices and a little series inspired by my amazing glass gem corn seed this year (supplied from last year’s saved seed from our lovely friend Justin and shucked steadfastly by DBR) – though much of it doesn’t look like it matured enough to replant this year (it was a short wonky summer), it did grow enough to impart beauty and inspiration. Hopefully my inspirations will stand up to the expert artistic ministrations of visting artists El Costell, Nikki, and maybe Sam Jones (more on them as the week unfolds). And I do think we might have an event visitation by the Wild Seed Project to talk about focusing on native seed and rewilding our yards.
Also, Sage Hayes and the Equality Community Center of Portland, ME are hosting an evening with bodyworker and trauma healer Susan Raffo (author of Liberated to the Bone, which we carry, from the Emergent Strategy series), Feb 1, 6-8pm. I can’t wait to pair up with some of our community outreach peoples to host events here, too.
It has taken me a lifetime to understand the nature and necessity of compassion. To see in every person I meet a human being that is trying as all of us do to live a life based on inadequate information and insufficient capacities. There is not a one of us who has not hurt another life, sometimes terribly. And every single one of us, when we are older, are awakened in the night by a voice in the darkness saying, “There is something we need to talk about.” In those moments, we replay each and every one of those hurts. And one of the curses of growing old is that our sensitivity to moral transgressions increases with every year we live. Behaviors that were once thought free of hurt are recognized later in life as hurtful, sometimes terribly damaging. There is not a one of us who has not been hurt, not a one that has not hurt others. And we will always hurt others no matter how carefully we approach life, how carefully we craft our actions, how careful we try to be. This is one of the terrible tragedies of the human condition. Over time we are forced to this recognition. By its nature it forces humility upon us, one of the most difficult of the virtues to develop. There is not a person I meet now for whom I do not have compassion, however much I may dislike them personally. And this growing capacity for compassion has brought me another understanding. That the hardest compassion there is to develop is the one we must learn to give to ourselves. ~ from the essay ‘On the Necessity for Compassion and the Dangers of Moral Purity‘
I’m not much of a New Year person – for me, everyday is a start of a new year and the seasonals mark our time more efficiently. But there is always time for extra celebrations, so a little New Year’s as a thing isn’t the worst (it just isn’t a big thing…we go to bed at a reasonable time, though I keep reminding myself that hedonistically we used to try and never go to bed on New Year’s and now it feels deliciously excessive to go to bed early). January, however, marks the planning time.
Homestead plans for us, mostly. We unroll a swathe of kraft paper over the studio table and map out our orchard, our gardens, our sugarbush and see where we want to spend our energies in the coming months. We lament the wandering compost pile, the multiplying brush piles, the projekts from last year undone (my dreamy grass garden around the ‘big rock’, rebuilding the rock wall, the new kitchen and herb garden ‘room’) adding to this year’s possibility of tearing down and rebuilding the garage into a small barn and putting in some long term perennials into the ‘sundial garden’ and shaping the blackberry patch (with rows and lines). And assessing our successes and less successful endeavors such as garden clean up and winter preparations (I’m pretty sure there are still tomato cages out there).
We had an anniversary date (#26! Jade and Art, apparently) to our local favorite Slate’s, which we haven’t been in quite awhile. It was nice – really nice with a pre dinner glass of wine with friends at Table Bar and a nice drive around to see the lights. It was a welcome respite as we get our rhythms down both in the new store and at the homestead. Rhythms and revolutions.
So, here’s not to resolutions but revolutions! May your plans revolve around your desires and your values and your satisfactions.
This gal is hilarious. She loves making faces – ugly faces, scary faces, witchy faces, goofy faces, sometimes sweet faces.
I had a dream she was wee again, just a little thing – maybe 2 or 3, and was leaning over a porch railing dumping little puddles of water on the steps from a tiny pitcher. When I told her to stop, I realized I didn’t want to be too harsh so I softened my chastisement because I knew she was playing a ‘trick’ and meant to be funny. So, I said, ‘hey! you cut that out, you little stinker’ and she laughed her deep guttural giggle that she still has when she’s truly tickled. And I thought in my dream, man, she’s so gorgeous.
Even when she’s making her crazy faces, I still think that. Oh, my beautiful Tulips. ❤
The paperwhites in the store window are starting to bloom. The starter, Doris, is very happy in her new kitchen. And the Solstice countdown is on.
We got a typeset tray a few years ago and decorated it up as a countdown calendar – painting all our favorite activities and treats inside. D repaints the window covering every year so we can cut out and fold over the days as we go along. However, this year, our lives are quite different and we’re struggling to make all our festivities happen. When the waffle breakfast square popped up, we realized we rarely have mornings long enough to get that together so we organized a day in Portland, visiting Hot Suppa for brunch and doing a little Solstice shopping. I’ve yet to figure out why there is a monkey in jail for family game night but we’re ready.
The frost (and a light snow) have finally come with the Cold Moon so we are hoping the sugarbush gets some much needed rest and rejuvination. They need it to regroup and express sugars so we can make Maple Syrup! J is thinking it will be a late and short season for us – I hope we can make enough for our needs this year. Anyone who doesn’t believe in climate change is not paying attention.
Meanwhile, I’m trying to prepare for a Grand Opening Seed Swap – getting my seed packets ready, organizing a speaker, and a group art show. Yes, the holiday shift is nice – we love to signal the seasonal change with the Solstice (it’s more of a beginning for us, than an end) and think about the new growing opportunities!