Category Archives: community

And We’re Off

My fingers were shaking and my heart was racing as I turned the key to lock my clean, empty home.  Everything was out.  Our beds, artwork, and vast array of books were tucked into the outbuilding we recently constructed.  The canoe was nestled into our walled off, half of the garage with our bikes, gardening tools, and dishes.  While my home was empty of its stuff, my mind reeled with memories as I mopped the floors.  Babies born, friendships forged, songs sung, meals shared, books read, games played, projects created, gardens grown are all part of the richness that Joey and I created together within these walls and on this little plot of land.

And ever so quickly, under the cover of night, we were gone.  The car was loaded down and a bit squirrely under the weight of 700 feet of line, an anchor, chain, books, games, art materials, and clothes.  If you do anything with boats and you find yourself in Bellingham, WA, you must make your way to Pacific Marine Exchange (www.pacificmarine.com), a store of previously owned marine equipment and supplies.  We saved an incredible amount of money there.  Now we just have to share the car with our bounty.

We are spending the day with family like friends in Kirkland, recovering from three days of a mad dash to get out of the house.  We are resting and getting ready for the long drive to more family and friends and finally the boat in Charleston, SC.  While we all feel some sadness in leaving our chosen clan, incredible friends, inspiring community, and lovely life in Bellingham, the joys of travel are upon us.

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putting on my running shoes

For years now I have watched a group of ladies run past my house on Sunday mornings headed for Galbraith.  In the beginning I had no interest in joining the group.  I had no interest in running, alone or with others.  I had tried running a few times, but it never seemed fun.  Walking always seemed more my speed.  And I could walk a long way through any kind of weather.  I was content with my walking pace.  I was happy to go slow and notice what was going on around me.

About a year ago, walking stopped being enough.  It happened one random night.  I really like walking at night.  This particular night was one of the first times since the birth of Juniper that I made it out of the house without her strapped to my back.  I was walking through the park, enjoying the crisp air, and admiring the shimmer of the stars I was lucky enough to see.  And then it happened.  I needed to go faster.  So, I started to run.  I ran freely and joyfully.  I was surprised at myself.  I was actually enjoying running for the first time in my life.

And then it became a habit.  Well, addiction is probably a better description.  I needed to run and still do.  I found that life is so much more manageable with a run under my belt.  I can get pissed off at my husband, go for a run, and then come home with hugs and kisses for him.  My kids will be driving me crazy, but running makes them seem angelic.  I travel faster with running and can go places on the mountain and in the park that I never had time for with walking.

I started getting up with the sun and running in my backyard on Galbraith Mountain with some other mothers from the neighborhood.  I soon learned how to keep up and felt blessed to have amazing scenery and awesome ladies at my doorstep.  Last Mother’s Day, I joined a large group of women for an hour and a half run on the mountain.  It took a few days to recover, but I did it.  And then this past fall I ran the Bellingham Bay Half-Marathon.  As I ran through the streets of Bellingham, looking out at the water, and being blown away by incredible wind, I reflected on my life here in Bellingham and saw clearly the healing and growth that enabled me to be there, running.

And today I finally joined that group of ladies, thanks to my neighbor Carol.  Of course they were much faster and I questioned my sanity, but one must try.  I soon decided that I would not complete the ten miles they had planned, but stick with my old faithful route.  And at the junction where we would split, there was another group of ladies ready to run in my intended direction.  So I joined them, found that they were of my pace, and followed them on new paths.  We ran through snow with sunshine slanting through the trees illuminating the beauty of this magical winter morning.  I made it home after two hours of frolicking on the mountain.  I felt strong and capable and so very thankful that I landed in Bellingham.  This place has given me the ability to put on my running shoes.

with a little help from my kids

As we get closer to our departure date, I am becoming increasingly excited for the time I will have with my kids in the natural world.  The boat is small, but the air will be warm and the beaches are vast.  I have always needed to spend time in the outdoors.  This need has become even more pronounced with children in my daily life.

With children though, the quality and focus of time spend outdoors has shifted a bit. I no longer try to see how far I can make it on a trail.  I cannot be attached to preparing a garden bed AND getting it planted in the same morning.  Instead, I have learned acceptance.  I have been given an opportunity to learn how to be more present and aware in the here and now.  As we walk in the woods, we stop to play hide and seek, finding special spots to be still and quiet.  We marvel at millipeds and search endlessly for owls.  In the rivers, we look at rocks and fill our pockets with treasures.  In the garden, we search for worms and beetles.  We take frequent snacks on garlic chives and kale, all the while singing songs and listening to birds.

Aldo Leopold said that “when we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”  Perhaps to build this sense of community with nature, we must start by thinking like children.  How rich we may become, if we can all spend time each day outside, thinking like a kid, and experiencing the beauty of the present moment.

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How do you put your kid hat on?  How do you develop and foster a connection with the natural world?  We love comments.

Love and Laughter

From one journey to the next, there is always beauty and learning.  Right as our lives had become unexpectedly absorbed with boat logistics, we set out for Breitenbush, a retreat to hot springs and mindfulness for body, mind, and soul.   At a moment when we most needed to unite as a family, we had luckily organized a visit to a place where it is impossible to feel anything but love for one another.  It was everything we needed- rest, time to simply BE together, nourishing meals prepared for us, warmth in fresh air, and a practice run for our upcoming road trip across America.


And then it was back to the frantic pace of the modern American Christmas.  “How can this be?” I wondered.  I try to keep it simple.  Yet, somehow, I also want everything to be just right.

Grandma arrived the day after we returned, Winter Solstice.  I spent the morning making everything ready for an evening celebration to pay tribute to the longest night of the year.  We brought in our four year old live Christmas tree, small and majestic.  We decorated her and enjoyed the best of holiday carols.

The next morning we took Joey to the train and settled into our new rhythm.  As I hurried to play Santa and finish my gifts,  the last of the packages arrived, and the girls eagerly found the anticipated candy tucked into the tissue paper by Uncle Ron.

Finally, at 1am on Christmas Eve, I threw in the towel and accepted that  I would not completely finish the art totes for the girls.  I had to find solace in simply enjoying their covers, the Crow and the Owl.

Once Christmas morning came, my whole body could finally relax and go with the flow.  It was incredibly fulfilling to see that my girls found their greatest joy in marbles, books, and modeling wax.  And then they spent the rest of the day wrapping and sharing presents with each other.  Their whole beings were immersed in the pleasure of giving with love.  Our hearts were overflowing.

And at the end of the day, we were most thankful for cooking together, sharing meals in mindfulness, being silly with laughter, and walking in the great outdoors with Grandma (and April, Jeff, Greysen, and Olive).

And now we prepare for the new beginning.

We are hoping that love and laughter are blessing all of your days!

Juncos Sing Together

Juncos have been the highlight of our walks these past few days.  All the way down our street there have been lots of them- flitting about in the trees, hanging out on power lines, pecking at the ground, and singing with their friends.  Juncos are slightly larger than a chickadee with black caps and black eyes.  They forage on the ground and along tree branches for seeds and insects.  In the winter, they congregate in large flocks.  I have long since admired Juncos for they are so darn cute.  But this week, I really got to know them.  Juniper and I (and once our friend, Finley) spent time watching them.  I would try counting them and realized that where I thought I saw five or six, there were actually nine or ten.  It was akin to noticing one mushroom on the forest floor and then looking around and seeing that mushrooms actually covered the forest floor.  I’ve been trying for awhile to figure out the Junco’s call, and finally I was serenaded with it.  Their rapid trill and flat “chip, chip” are forever etched in my memory.  In winter’s dark days, these little birds happily get together, feast, and sing.  So simple. So merry.

Cheers to Slow Food

Last night I went to mix up my pumpkin pie and realized I never baked the pumpkin.  Oops, minor detail.  Pearl had mentioned a desire for cherry pie, so I decided I could change the menu, go to bed, and deal with pies later.  So, today I got busy on my pie and found that my crust just did not want to stay together under pressure of a rolling pin.  That is fine and well for the bottom crust which can be mushed together and then covered up, but what about the cherry pie top crust.  I took a deep breath and decided to take my time and play around a little bit.  What is the point, if not to enjoy oneself.  June woke from her nap eager to participate.  I found random objects in my kitchen drawer ready to be used for cutting small circles.  And then it came to me,  I realized I could make it pretty and exciting for June, who loves owls.  Here’s the pie before and after the oven…

 

 

The cherry owl pie was a hit and the inspiration for photos within photos (thanks Oso and Teresa).  It tasted alright too!   Hoping everyone had many reasons to feel thankful on this pleasant day.

Gratitude

The day is grey and I am struck with the reality that Joey leaves tomorrow for work and I have not completed my to-do-while-Joey-is-home list.  I’m forcing myself to ignore the bins of fabric that I meant to go through and I’m finding ways to laugh off the discouragement I feel about publishing a book.  Going through my emails I am reminded that this week is about remembering to give thanks.  My mind races back in time to a night I was sitting in a bar with Joey when our relationship was newly forming.  I recall sharing with him my belief that the secret to a good life is to be always thankful.  Gratitude, I realize, is what I desire to be the foundation of our life together as a family. 

I then stumbled upon a link to the making of a gratitude tree (from the blog This Cosy Life).  Walking outside with Juniper to gather branches for our tree, I looked around and inhaled the majestic beauty of this grey day- the towering trees, crazy wind, and swirling clouds.  I felt blessed to have this awesome child in my life with her sweet hugs and happy disposition.  I realized I am thankful that I finally got my garden put to bed for the winter, better late than never.  As I prepared dinner, Pearl cut out leaves from previously painted paper.  I was struck by her developing abilities- to cut, to diligently finish a task.  After dinner, we wrote from hearts to leaves and put together our gratitude tree.  I was thankful we could celebrate while Joey was still with us.  Trip preparations and publishing books no longer mattered.  They will happen when they need to.  What matters is that we are present with one another, feeling thankful.