Thursday, March 26, 2015

a wednesday hike

I have a goal this spring: to hike every week with the kids, gradually increasing the length until we can do an all-day (really, not just playin' in the creek kind of all-day) hike. Ultimately, I would like to be able to stay out a night, though the options for doing so nearby are few.  

My friend Jen has been longing to do the same with her family, so this was the first of what I hope will be many spring and summer hikes together. We're gonna have to brace ourselves for a bit of resistance, however. There was so much whine on this hike, I could barely drive home...(come on, that was funny.)

It was 70 degrees yesterday, and they're threatening snow in the next couple, so out we went to Gifford, the smallest state forest in Ohio!  The trail pretty quickly turned into this gorgeous little hollow with a creek and mossy rocks to explore.

chorus frog?

I see you, Hepatica
I might have whooped and fist-pumped when I found this...
Yes, I cheer for the first flowers of spring.

Up to the ridegeline to see what we could see - butterflies, stone, still-bare trees, rattling their bones in the warm wind.  Spring, I can feel you...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Thank You For Sewing!

Dear Sewing Enthusiasts,

Thank you for your dedication and hardwork to unite or fasten by stitches a more beautiful world. You are such fine advocates that we wanted to reward you with this small prize box.  We hope you enjoy it and continue your quest to make and do and be.

We are all in this together! Baste on!
Bernina P. Singer

This mystery box arrived on our doorstep a week ago.  I don't even know how to describe the joy that errupted upon its opening.  Sadly, my photos just don't quite do the trick, but please use your imagination, pretend that you LOVE sewing and are turned on by yards of colorful fabric, buttons - buttons! -  and thread...and you will have some glimmer of the energy surrounding this bounty.

Also included was a copy of One-Yard Wonders, which Eliza used and loved in her sewing class.  I'm kinda thinking that even I could make a few of the items in there...

Eliza pounced upon a package of metal studs and knew just how to use them.  She painted a few and embellished a newly-cut pair of jeans shorts.

So the sewing madness around here continues, thanks to the juicy infusion of a beautiful mystery box!!!  
sewing a new bag
button love
THANK YOU, Bernina P. Singer! You are a sewer of magic and joy!

Friday, March 20, 2015


Ani's new spring 'do

I can hear the peepers that occupy our neighbor's pond from inside my kitchen.  I can also hear Ani narrating a story as she moves her critters around the living room (...then slipped away. I was awoken too early the next morning from my deep slumber.  I was on the bed in the next room. It was early. Not too early - it was like midnight when we got here - oh geez, it was kind of early.  They were running around shouting "It's easter! It's easter! Guys, wake up, it's easter!" Well, we can't go out looking for eggs in just those fat little bloomers, now can we?).  We've had a fairly uneventful Spring Equinox, other than that we all felt good today, and it's been a while since that's happened.  I'll take it.

We read at breakfast about the old traditions of the equinox - called Eostre, sound familiar? - and cleaned off our altar/nature table to make way for the new.  The day was cold and did not call to us to come out of our spring cleaning - and sewing, Eliza is on a roll - but I know we will be celebrating the coming of spring in our own ways over the coming days.  I have let go of needing to mark one single day, and the space that provides in my soul is remarkable.  So much better than the stress I used to hold, wanting to make new traditions and make them Now.  

We are collecting spring in the way that we do...peepers. New birds. Buds. Amphibian eggs.

Some of these may have found their way home from the puddle where we found them, to live on our kitchen counter for a while.

Expansive, hopeful, beckoning.  Happy Spring!

in time of daffodils (who know 
the goal of living is to grow) 
forgetting why,remember how 

in time of lilacs who proclaim 
the aim of waking is to dream, 
remember so (forgetting seem) 

in time of roses (who amaze 
our now and here with paradise) 
forgetting if,remember yes 

in time of all sweet things beyond 
whatever mind may comprehend, 
remember seek (forgetting find) 

and in a mystery to be 
(when time from time shall set us free) 
forgetting me,remember me 


Sunday, March 15, 2015

first signs

A crocus, a bee...a redwing blackbird "okaleeee!"

Creeks flooding their banks, climbing onto the road...

And today, on a walk with Dan, the unexpected sound (I mean there is still snow in the shadiest turns and hollers) of peepers! They're here! No other sound is more spring to me than peepers.

The fields we walked past are tranformed for a few weeks into vernal ponds, and today they were alive with frogs.  

Redbellied Woodpecker
The week has been wet and warm, and we've run outside to enjoy the sun when it's appeared.

birdwatching from the roof

The girls and I got out to put some juice into our tree studies.  We collected some twigs to study and draw back home.

Our identification skills aren't too sharp in this area, but we focused on learning the characteristics of twigs - the leaf scars, the terminal and lateral buds, the bud scales, the positions of the buds (opposite, alternate, whorled) - and came away with the knowledge that someone could use these features to identify different species!  We did all right with a few - the dogwood was easy, and the cherry - but we'll have to confirm some of our suspicions once things leaf out.  

Sometimes I think it's worth looking at something more closely just to know that these details are there, that a mark so small can be an important part of a tree's signature.  To know something exists. 

There was also a birthday party this weekend for our friend Osha, with Garfield-and-Pi-themed games, and a Pi pie and a chocolate fountain, which doesn't have anything to do with Pi or Garfield, but who wouldn't want a chocolate fountain at their birthday?  I called to see how it was all going before heading out to collect one of my girls, and I could hardly stop laughing when Jen told me that when the kids were making up games to play she threw out the suggestion "why don't you see who can be still the longest? (a la Garfield the lazy cat)" and they did it! For an hour! And to make it even funnier, Ani, the girl who needs to be drumming or getting lost in a repetitive sound for so much of her day, tied at one hour ten minutes!!  These kids crack me up. The prize was a book of Garfield comics, so she was extremely motivated.

There was also a four-day-old calf roaming about the farm.  You can't get much springier than that.

Monday, March 9, 2015



My friend Freeman has challenged himself to identifying 100 birds this year.  Wanting a little company, he threw this challenge my way, knowing I'd find it hard to resist...I have to say that the first 30 were easy, and I can only imagine it will get increasingly more difficult. Now that I've counted the chickadees, juncos, jays and starlings, how lovely to travel to a new state and see a few species we are unlikely to find here! My friends Jim and Nancy recently spent a weekend with a birding group (as newbies they said it was quite the cultural experience, being with Birders), so they were extremely accomodating and helpful with this quest.  Ringbill Gull? Check. Ringneck? Check. Grackle? Got it.

Most of our bird sightings were at a park we frequented when we lived in Richmond.  These birds had a regular visitor who feeds them by the bucket-full.  We timed our stop just right to watch the frenzy!

Geese and Coots
As far as I can tell, these geese below look like Graylag Geese, but many of our domestic geese are descendants of the european Graylag, so maybe these are just some escapees from a local farm? Apparently they do migrate here occasionally but I can't find anything specifically about them living in Virginia.  However, while looking I did see a disturbing list of species that have a hunting season in the state: tundra swan, coots, teals, merganzers, scoters, pintails, and fulvous whistling ducks, to name but a few.  Why does anyone need to shoot a swan?? We did just finish reading about Louis and his trumpet, so maybe I've lost perspective on the non-talking species of swans, but really. Why???

I haven't checked this out officially, but I'm guessing that our birds have to be found in the wild, so I won't count these beauties that we saw in the Maymont aviary.

Great Horned Owl
Black Vulture
The weather has been bonkers, here and there - many inches of snow and ice, and then today a nearly total melt at 53 degrees, and the birds are so happy.  The morning that we packed up the car to drive home we stepped outside to hear a chorus of fluting.  It took us a minute to locate the source: up in the very top branches of a tree were eight or so blue jays, lit with a pink morning light, taking turns each singing one note.  It was absolutely magical.

this is not a fluting blue jay, but a robin
We also watched The Big Year with Steve Martin and Jack Black and got a glimpse of just how competitive the birding world can be.  The birding champions of the story had year lists of 740 or so birds, just to give you an idea of what we're talking about here.  One hundred seems daunting enough to me.