The first light of Advent is the light of stone–. Light that lives in crystals, seashells, and bones.-Rudolf Steiner I am new to the whole journey of advent myself. As a child we had much anticipation towards Christmas, eating a candy cane every night of December thanks to our advent calendar. There were some beautiful candle lighting ceremonies in our Quaker Meeting, but I have much to learn about the ceremonies of the season of darkness and light in my adulthood. Though I do let myself be guided and love when synchroniscities illuminate my way. I couldn’t decided tonight weather to go out to the studio to work with my magical collection of gem stones or to make medicinal jewelry for my up coming Holiday Sale, or weather to do a little research on how to celebrate advent in our home…I choose being horizontal with research and was pleasantly surprised to find out that advent begins tomorrow, with of course the Mineral Kingdom. For the first week of Advent the world of stones shall be honored and praised for it’s gifts bestowed upon us, what a beautiful gesture that the rocks, mountains and sands we all stand upon every single day of our lives shall get a whole week of attention in many families homes & hearts, not to mention and ton of attention from me. Just knowing this will just give my week more depth and meaning, as I plan to spend every evening I can working with the minerals so I can have a bountiful array of jewels to offer at this years Waldorf School Winter Faire. Working with stones is one of my favorite, introspective and truly magical interests, but alas does not get much of my time since mothering got added to my job title list. But once a year, around this time, As I lay the gardeners to bed I immediately jump from inside to out, day to night and start working little a little elf for Holiday Sales. I discovered the Waldorf Winter Faire last year and was so well received by friends and kin that now I see no need to do any other. You see, amid many different family fun festivities there is a humble little craft sale put on as a fund raiser for this wonderful school in our community, that I am learning to appreciate and connect with more and more. While kids play and community connects mamas and men, guys and girls alike, can sneak away and do some serious Holiday purchasing. Though it is small it if full of amazing artisans and promises many beautiful handmade gifts for the gathering, all from local artists which really makes the the meaning of connection potent in the gifts given. So for the ONE and ONLY Desert Diosa Jewelry Sale of 2014 come see me next Saturday Dec 6th at the Santa Fe Waldorf School Winter Faire and celebrate with me the Light of the Stone.
This is the latest love of my life, name yet to be determined!! She was the second doll I have made, this one for my niece who turned 3 yesterday. She was special from the beginning, as what is not special about a little doll for a little one? I worked on her for weeks, and my son would often remind me,
Every step was a learning process, but I was so pleased with the results I carried her around for days myself. The clothes hand-made, tailor fit, the hair made to match that of her new little mama’s. She even got to play with my son’s doll, who now looks extremely odd next to her….
Though it was a little hard to pack her in a box and send her far, far away, I waited for patiently for her to arrive into my niece’s arms. And sure enough, she was well received!! “She looks like me!” was exclaimed with glee! What could be better than hard work so well received!!
So, as this crafting season is upon us and the pressure of gifts, made or bought is upon us, I am trying to really connect with the spirit of giving really is. Letting the spirit of who people are, what the need and what they love guide me to create things that will reach from my heart to theirs. I truly hope that the gift giving frenzy can be warded off with slow steady gestures of connection & love. Nothing more scary than a crazed, crafty mama, now is there?! So my friends let the crafting begin!!
Nothing quite like a frigid morning to inspire some garden action!! Don’t get me wrong, I lingered long over a hot cup of tea this morning, but I have to admit the freezing breeze just nagged at me all the things I had left undone out in my autumn garden. For one, I haven’t planted garlic yet! Yikes I MUST do it before the ground freezes, I will today, I must!! I peeked under my row cover at all my little fall greens, and wow, I am happy to report all was well! Spinach, Chard, Lettuce, Cilantro, even a little dill perky as can be! I harvested like crazy and tucked them back in. If the snow does bless my yard this weekend I plan on laying a thin sheet of 4mil plastic over the whole 4 rows, it is not greenhouse plastic, but a painters drop cloth type plastic sheet I got last year, and it seemed to do the trick to just keep th snow off and it helps melt it fast when the sun does shine again, which we all know can be quite quick around here. I also scrambled around the yard gathering the last medicines I could find. Mint, yarrow, Comfrey, Mallow were all doing just fine in the crispy air so I gathered those up eagerly and set them to dry in the extremely dry (heating with wood really sucks the humidity out of the air) cozy house. All of these delicious leaves will be used in an upcoming workshop my Radical Homemaking conmadres are putting on called the Winter Apothecary- Stocking up for Seasonal Wellbeing. We will be making teas, cough syrup, medicinal stock and all kinds of magical potions for the cold season ahead. This is always the best part, when all my seasons efforts get mixed and brewed and put the finishing touches on and magically they transform from weeds to medicine ready to dose out to the sick and the weary. Ahh, so a brisk morning it was, but now I can at least enjoy another cup of tea, sort the garlic And hope for another day before the ground deeply freezes (though usually it takes until about Christmas for that so I am not that worried!!) And while I am sorting, the mail comes and delivers my first article in print! Actually it was a nice season of press for this little gardener….I had a story about ‘Psyche and Her Seeds’ published in the Seed Broadcast, a very cool little free paper all ode to Seeds. An article in this Seasons Edible Santa Fe (p.64) about the work we do to grow local food at Santa Fe Community College. And lastly an article I wrote all about the planning and planting seasons of High Desert Homesteading in this seasons edition of the Permaculture Activist. Oh and do you recognizes those cute little tomato holding hands! Yep my photo made the cover, cool to have the love I put into my garden spread out and inspire beyond my yard, those are the seeds I wish to sow in the world. So with the literature spread before me, and the leaves and the seeds, my table is full, my harvests are in and I am feeling like this year was indeed an abundant yield indeed. Ok winter, now you may come on in and I will rest the best I can!!
It has been a full season of abundance
So much goodness, so very grateful….. but I must admit, I was happy to see old Jack frost come. I know I shouldn’t really admit it, but I smiled deeply the morning I saw the tomatoes curling in from cold and snuggled back into bed to savor the shift that had finally come. You see, all the abundance equals a lot of work and when you do most of it yourself you know how much stamina and discipline it takes to stay home and chop and can and freeze in what feels like every free moment of September when it feel like the whole world is festinating without you!
And we are not left barren and bare post frost, oh no in fact the fall garden looks quite perky due to a big mid summer bed turning push by the old hubby and some serious seeding on my part!! And now the fresh food gives us promise of vitamins for many moons ahead, which turns out I will need. Though I head into this season of senescence, and the work of the outer world may feel like it is pairing down, the internal work is just beginning….
May this seasons abundance nourish us all well into the next season ahead!
on earth am I going to get this all preserved before winter, or worse rot?
But he just laughs at all my fretting and reminds me, these are good problems to have!
One by one I get to marvel at each perfectly imperfect lucious fruit, saving the seeds of the finest favorites along the way.
10lbs of the most pungent onions I have ever smelled, crying all the way. Along with home-grown garlic, oregano, rosemary, basil and thyme….this might be my first 100% home-grown marinara!! Mama mia it was good!
Then I moved to something a bit more decadent, and tomato marmalade recipe that kind of blew my mind last year…I know what you are thinking, not exactly your thing, right..well a gifted jar of this stuff sat on my shelf for almost 8months before I broke it open out of desperation when a beloved guest was over and all I had to offer was toast…It has us cooing and pining for the recipe ever since… So thanks to Elsa and her mom here it is, but a warning there are way more store-bought and sweeting ingredients in this one than my puritan marinara but truthfully, well worth it!!
And just for the record I am feeling super lucky I have food to eat and to feed my people with. May all beings be gifted a full belly tonight and may my growing efforts go to feed the many who simply are not nourished as they should be.
The most luscious month of the year is always abundant around here. Nothing big and bold, but lots of busy hands gathering making, tidying and creating around here. Here are a few glimpses of our Autumn Abundance that is just beginning.
Oh and so much more to come!
I approach gardening with kids much like I approach anything with kids; with great joy, patience and as much non-attachment to the outcome as I can muster, this way when it’s fun it fun and when it’s done it’s done.
Because I am a what you might call a serious gardener, meaning I spend a larger than average time in my garden as well as garden for a living, I have had to figure out ways to not only share my great love of the earth with my son (and many other children along the way) but figure out the balance of engaging him AND getting stuff done. This has been of course been achieved with varying degrees of success over the seasons but with his help and the help of many years as a schoolyard garden teacher I have learned a trick or two that may be helpful to you.
Not only is fresh air and sun shine good for you and your child post-partum, but getting babies used to where you plan to spend a lot of time with them is helpful. As they arrive on this earth, providing them with safe comfortable ways to be here is crucial if they are to feel like they belong on this good green earth.
When my son was very young I put him in a little basket in the green house. It was warm and the light was filtered so I felt he was safe from the elements and I could be nearby, sometimes not gardening at all, but given back my hands for a moment while he gazed up at the green. It is still our chosen play spot during the colder months of the year.
When he got a little older he spent lots of time on his back right in the garden patch…
luckily there are very few itchy things to worry about here in New Mexcio whichs brings great ease to a gardening mothers heart.
But I always made sure he was well protected when the sun was bright. He always slept really well outside.
Provide Safe Spaces:
As a new mother on a somewhat unruly homestead I was often nervous about where to let him roam and what was really ok to let a baby wander into. Those first couple of years my husband did a lot of baby proofing in my behalf. Adding brick paths
Adding little edges, walls and fences to help him define boundaries of plants and people space, and of course give him something to pull himself up on and lots of safe grazing foods within reach.
Let them explore:
So much of the world is fascinating and marvelous when you are brand new and whenever I let go enough of say a wet baby on a chilly cold day, I am able to witness some of the worlds greatest delights!! And of course had a towel and warm bath waiting.
Let them feel:
Wet and dirty, flowing water, gritty sand. Children’s whole beings are big sensory organs and their job is to take in the world and process it. The garden is the greatest place to experience the feel the texture of life and open our senses to all the miracles of sensory awareness the world holds and it truly is all right there in our own backyards.
Sometimes that means letting them pluck a flower or two or eating some dirt, but the casualties are most likely worth it!
Keep them with you:
I think one of our greatest successes is that when I work in the garden, my son comes with me or at least up till now at 3 years old. Sure I sneak moments to myself and save certain jobs for when he is with someone else, but mostly I just tell him it is time for working in the garden and he joins right in.
When he was small of course a pile of gravel was enough keep him happy , or a bowl of water or a pile of dirt….but as he grew he would wander off and get into places I was not so fond of….I started to find toddler size boot prints all throughout freshly sprouted seed beds so yes, I baby proofed the garden a bit. It ran string about 2 feet high around the beds as boundaries and they did in fact stop him from trampling, though a few other visiting toddlers weren’t slowed in the slightest and just startled right over….I also put recycled tiles in the garden paths as stepping-stones and it seemed to be more entertaining to jump from one to another than tramp the plants, so we were both happy with that!
Give them spaces of their own
When kids get even older, say 2, it is important to set them up with projects you can let them work on without having to keep too close an eye. They want to help and have meaningful work, but if you can work right there with them they need to have something important to do that does contribute to the job at hand. If I am sowing flats of example, my son stirs the soil and fills the trays. Often he has his own agenda when we enter a space like the greenhouse and wants to water all the plant accessible to him with his own watering can.
Give them meaningful work and real tools:
My husband is a champion of involving our son in projects. He somehow has two of every thing and can set him up to work right by his side. He also seems to have varying sizes of things so that our son had a real hammer, but one that fit in his hands and wasn’t a danger, not only so he doesn’t get so frustrated by working with something that simply doesn’t fit him, but so he can actually succeed at hitting a nail. Now that he is bigger he is really helpful in delivering things. He can pass tools and go grab things and loves to help in that way. They also build real things and I am so grateful we both have real skills to pass on. I have never seen my son use a toy tool bench, but I wonder if he would just pass it by, once you have had the real thing it is hard to play with plastic imitations.
Be ready, Be reasonable about expectations & Be prepared for breakdowns:
Setting you both up well is really important. Having the hats and the gloves and the water and the shovels can seem like a lot to think about when you are just going to kneel down for some weeding….but I find my son always wants the same things and if I have them on hand and don’t have completely interrupt my flow to get things for him, we are both happier and can stay focused for much longer.
Just as giving a tiny child a huge hammer and expecting him to wield it well is silly, the same applies to planning a whole day in a sunny garden with 2-year-old, it is simply a bad idea. Scaling my time has been important to learn so that our time and energy together is fun and not over extended. Weather it is the right size tool or timeline, tuning into a child’s size and capacity can make or break any experience.
Though no matter how hard you try to prepare, measure and accommodate, when a child is done, he is done! Yielding to a child’s needs is another good lesson I have learned in my power garden sessions. Sometimes they are just done before you are and want different things at different times. Now that my son is three he can say, “I am hungry” or “I am all done” and I can say “Ok, I will finish up here and we will go get a snack.” It is all very civilized, however this time last year he simply could not communicate so well and our gardening together would often end in me stepping too far away for a moment and him wailing in worry, or some other seemingly insignificant thing that would abruptly end our blissful garden sessions. But I took it all in stride. One of the hardest things to learn as a mother in these first couple of years is that my child and I have very different needs, though any stranger could tell that just by looking at us, I really had a hard time accommodating both what he wanted and I wanted at the same time. But as I yielded, so did he and we always managed to work together and get those seeds in the ground or the crops in from the field as well and snuggle, nurse and rest together. And just remember, just because it may end in tears one day, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try again, maybe with a few lessons learned, but there is always another chance to grow together!
Do things together:Which often mean slowing down and letting go.
All this said I must admit the biggest lesson I have learned is that being a serious gardener and a good garden mentor don’t always align. I often feel I must get certain things done in a certain amount of time and little ones simply don’t get that. Yes, I do power garden on my own, but remembering that my helpers, both young and old are still learning to connect, love and savor the earth is a great lesson for me, when did I get so busy anyway? Most of what I learn is that being in the moment really does make it last longer and gives us more. Being in the garden with my son does involve some boundaries and guidance, but mostly it is truly a time for reverence and connection. We are sharing in each other and in the world together and sincerely, nothing could be finer and truly neither of us want anything more.
And now look at him!! My little garden guy. Marveling at the wonders all around him, sharing the miracles of life with those close to him and working, always working!! Love that little garden guy!
PS After I wrote this I came across and similar and beautiful post about gardening with kids here where I borrowed this quote from:
“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”
Ahh this glorious rain, bags and baskets over flowing with seeds and fruits; the Lammas season is upon us, the harvest time has begun. This time last week all I could think about was all that rain wasted, the seeds I didn’t sow and yes I was literally in the weeds as they were toppling over head. But now, thanks to the wise words of a circle of friends I am seeing the beautiful mystery in all that is unfolding without my careful sowing. My garden is literally only half seeds I sowed, the rest were dropped there by birds and trees and mysterious forces all around, but all that is sprouting around me is a gift and I am drinking it in. I have let go of my quest for perfection, at least in the garden for starters, the weeds literally fall over me as I scratch around them and throw out handful of seeds to the wet earth with wild abandon. There still is many moons of growth in my garden and half way through the year I am ready to set out more wishes, intentions and hopes of more food for the family.
This year has been intense from dry and scarce to overflowing floods…the extremes are truly a humble reminder that it is not all up to us…..As we witness the extremes in the world around us it is really hard in integrate all that seems to be happening right now I ask myself has the world always been this intense and we just were more insulted in our communities without mass media we just didn’t have to take it all in? I really don’t know but I feel responsible some how to take it in, to be aware, to act as effectively as I can to create hope, support and effect positive change…to do enough!!
And some days lately I simply can’t muster much of anything. Remember those seeds my son and I threw out this spring on our new land…well I never really watered, went away and then got too tired and too hot to care. I kind of wrote it off as a personal failure and then we wandered up there last evening and let my tell you it is a wild mess!!! But what went from being the dream of a flower farm then quickly one more project I couldn’t quite maintain, has magically transformed back into a flower farm with any of my doing. While I slept and fretted about all the work I had to do, but simply did nothing, the ‘weeds’ grew into a million sunflowers and are all about to bloom. BOOM, a flower farm with nothing but Mother Nature to thank,(and of course the previous farmers who dropped and ton of sunflowers seeds in the earth last year without me knowing).
So though I am still sneaking seeds in the ground it is time to reap and appreciate, the ripeness of the season, all that we are given and all that is. In this high time of summer with all the intensity that it has brought, we must remember to rejoice in all that we have, which is more than so many and pray for the same simple abundance for all beings on this earth. May the fullness of this season nourish all and may we all know what we need to do and may that be enough, at least for now.
The Journey- by Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.
Nothing like taking 2 weeks off from gardening in July!! We recently left town with everything little, mulched and ready to grow, and upon returning– well grow it did!! There was a ton of work waiting for me when I returned and though I haven’t gotten through it, I feel invigorated to do so,especially with this glorious cloudy weather in the skies above!! I often need this break, after a big push in the spring, often mid June, I am simply done! I let my greens go to seed in the swelling summer heat and I sit back and sip lemonade, or better yet split town. Even though am always happiest to come home, that break really helps me with perspective, refreshing my brain and helping me find new energy. Now that I have been ‘refreshed’ I wander the garden a find in doesn’t have mush to yield me right now with the exception of abundant Basil,some promising green Tomatoes, tiny Cucumbers and an amazing array of flowers
Beyond the beauty I mostly just have work to do…..I have got tomatoes to prune and tie, garlic to harvest, onions to harvest, lots of lettuce, spinach and cilantro seed to harvest…..and then when I do all that I let my chickens and turkeys lose to forage and clean up the rest. After they do their number my garden will be pretty wide open for a whole new spring of sorts…well fall I guess.
With this rain and cooling weather it is a wonderful time to make way for all those fall crops. technically we could still have almost 90 good days of growing season left so we might as well fill the garden with seeds rather than weeds….
So you might ask what do I plant and when? Well…. I may experiment with sowing an extremely late crop of Summer Squash and transplanted Basil… and then I will plant more Carrots, Beets, Lettuce, Kale, Chard, Bok Choy, Fennel, Spinach, Cilantro, Dill, Radishes and then more Lettuce from seed…..probably in that order in the next 2-3 weeks. Hey I might even try Marigolds, nasturtiums and Cosmos to see if I can get anything this late in the game. If you are doing the same and want an another encouragement I found this coaxing email for Johnny’s Select Seed Company telling you all the fall varieties they are selling and even a handy planting guide quite convincing. Succession planting is really the key to a constant food supply so I remember, you don’t have to plant everything all at once. Spacing things a couple of weeks apart will in turn space your harvesting a couple of weeks a part making your fall abundance constant!
Since I nurse my garden along through Christmas and somethings into the new year, this planting succession is crucial for my food supply for the next six months and has proven to be the most abundant time in my garden. I too start to perk up with the rain and relish in all the green that blesses our high desert soils this time of year… so throw out those seeds I say, and give thanks for the rain!!!
But because New Mexican weather is so agreeable, we spend as much time outside as possible. Lately even at 7am my son wants to eat his breakfast on the porch and of course we all linger outside until dark. We have furthered this outdoor life by finishing our outdoor kitchen which has been a work in progress for many, many years. It is kind of life long dream of mine and I can’t tell you what a joy it is to be able to literally be outside all day long, gardening, cooking and eating all in the fresh air. Since it has been such a labor of love I thought I would share the process and progress through the years….
It is filled in with mud and straw and for our baby shower it was plastered with the same by our dear friends, completing another side of the kitchen zone.
And then began the patio with a pile of bricks that sat in the front yard and was put to good use for almost three years as a high risk toddler climbing structure
(Don’t worry he lived through it and loved every minute or it!)
Sand was gathered from the river,
Bricks were lovingly laid
digging was done
Trenches were made (and staid a little longer than they were welcome)
and with all that trench dirt, old abodes from another construction project years back and a big pile of stones a bonus
Which provided hours of good family fun!
And will continue to for years
The bricks continue to be laid,
But soon enough, pure satisfaction!!
Pride of a job well done
the joy of sharing our space with good friends
And best of all, lots of parties to come!! Here’s to all your good work dear! So many thank yous for our beautiful little home, inside and out!