This girl, oh this girl. Her love for the garden is like no other. She’s not afraid of anything. Compost on her dress…no problem. An earthworm running through her tiny fingers…no problem. She’s all about the details in the soil. Ladybugs, new sprouts, wilted marigolds, she loves them all.
This gardening thing is addicting. Four years ago, David built me 4 simple square foot garden boxes. I stumbled upon the square foot gardening method while blog hopping and I knew it was for me. I read a little here and there, told David what I wanted, and he got building. Every year, I’ve added a few boxes. Now, I’m maxed out with 12 boxes. Those little 12 boxes bring me such joy. I know it sounds silly, but it’s true. As a child, I loved getting my hands in the soil. I grew up with a mother who loved indoor plants. There were seasons when our house was a jungle of plants (isn’t that right dad?). While I didn’t catch on to her love for indoor plant, I carried that love outdoors.
There’s this excitement that comes over me as I walk into the garden. The anticipation of checking on new growth, new harvest, new challenges. I don’t think I’d be the same person without this little garden of mine. It’s taught me more than I could ever learn in a classroom or in a book.
All that to say, on Friday afternoon, I found myself in the garden with my girl. It was just the two of us and Emma begged to paint one of the garden boxes. “It’s the kid box,” she explained to me. So, we dug through our basket of paints, poured the colors on a paper plate and she got busy. I worked the soil in the other 11 boxes while my girl sat on an upside down bucket and painted her heart away. There were moments of complete silence while the two of us worked together, yet separate. It was a beautiful afternoon.
This week, Emma had her big Easter party at barn school. The excitement in her was contagious. So contagious that I pulled Eli out of school early so he could join the fun. The barn looks beautiful every season, my fingers are still crossed that I’ll one day be able to have a barn of my own. The kids hunted for eggs. Played egg games. Sang songs. Danced. And crushed confetti eggs on each other. These days are so sweet and I couldn’t imagine living these years without my two little ones. The seasons are full of wonder and fun. Life is good.
I woke to rain and hail. I also woke next to a 7-year-old who knows he can safely sneak into my bed when Dad is out-of-town. Before I knew it, the hail woke a 4-year-old curly-haired girl and the three of us listened to the thumps of ice falling from the sky from my warm bed. We stayed in bed until our muscles needed to stretch. Before I knew it, lunch time arrived. While I made lunch, a brother and sister collected bugs in the backyard.
The day continued just like that. And I hope they happen over and over and over again.
There’s no denying my love of spring. It’s the most amazing season. A glorious few months of new growth, new color, new life. I found myself admiring these tulip blooms this morning. I returned home after taking Eli to school. There I stood, in my pajamas, hair a complete mess, glasses on, while cars drove by one after another. Yet, I didn’t care. I didn’t care if they saw me in my sleepy head state, because, all I saw were tulips.
It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a seasonal gardener. Don’t get me wrong, I dream of the garden year round, but when it comes to working the soil, I’m completely seasonal. Every fall I try to deny what I know is true. Every fall I clear out my 12 garden boxes. I remove every ounce of spring and summer. Then, I throw down seeds for the cool season. I nurture the seeds for a few weeks, then, the weather gets cold, I wimp out, and the fall/winter garden is forgotten. It happened again this year, and I wasn’t surprised.
As I opened the gate to the garden a few weeks ago, I noticed something had survived. Despite my neglect, the broccoli seeds sprouted and they welcomed me back to the garden after what seemed to be a very long and cold winter. I’m not crazy, I know broccoli cannot actually talk, but as I stood looking down at those green beauties, I felt as if they said, “welcome back, we’ve missed you.” And only someone who knows me really well will know if I actually attempted to respond to the broccoli.
We’ve become quite the bird watchers in our little home. You see, bright red cardinals have filled the barren trees around our home. At any given time, someone will yell “CARDINAL” and we’ll all run to the window to see the red beauty. Sometimes there’s just one. Sometimes there’s a bunch.
There was a time, when it was just me and this boy. David would leave for work, kiss us goodbye, and we had the entire day to just get to know each other. That’s the sweet thing about having children, you’re constantly getting to know them.
We brought Eli home from the hospital to the same home I was raised in. It was the only home I ever knew until I got married at 21, moved into an apartment for a year, then the stars aligned and at 22 and 23, David and I were able to buy our first house, my parents house, my childhood house. A house that continues to bless us today, even though we haven’t owned it for 6 years now. I turned my old bedroom into Eli’s nursery. The same bedroom where I sat on the floor and talked to my boyfriend for hours and hours on the phone. The same bedroom where I slept, my final night before marrying that same boyfriend years and years later. Although I cannot imagine living in that house again, that home, that 1940′s ranch, will forever be so insanely dear to my heart. I loved it while I lived there. The brass hardware on the doors, the skylight in the master bedroom, the never renovated kitchen, the french doors to the laundry room. And the memories, boy, those memories will never fade.
When it was just the two of us in that home on Cucamonga Avenue, I had to remind myself to talk to Eli. I wasn’t used to having someone with me constantly. I made up songs and forced myself to even talk him through a diaper change. I trained myself to talk and sing to that little man who made me a mother. I took Eli to the park, we browsed the craft stores, we napped, I made dinner with him strapped to me. A simple outing always turned into hours and hours away because we’d stop to nurse anywhere and everywhere we could. I made his baby food, I fed him a bottle while driving to the beach, I changed diapers in parking lots.
I was on a crash course to motherhood and I accepted the challenge with every ounce of my being. And it was in those first 9 months of Eli’s life, of the three of us living in my childhood home, that I started to become the new person I had waited so long to be. A mother, yes. But even above that, what becoming a mother taught me, was to live. And living is what I continue to do. Now with a 7-year-old, with a 4-year-old and a little babe in my belly. Being a mother is such an amazing experience, yes. But living is, well, an experience like no other.
I’m a sucker for children’s literature. My collection of children’s books started even before I became a mother. My junior year in college I spent an entire 9 weeks enrolled in a course that dissected children’s book after children’s book. We spent hours discussing books such at Goodnight Moon, Frederick and Because of Winn Dixie. I was in heaven and wanted to stay in that class forever.
Since I now have little people to read to, the collection has grown. But one book stands out. An Awesome Book by Dallas Clayton. I can’t explain why I love it so much, because my explanation is a feeling. The book is a declaration to my children. It is everything I could ever hope and wish and dream for them. I want them to believe each word and believe it as if they were my own. I want them to dream forever.