Tag Archives: outside

our life in snow

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We got our first big snow of the year – about 8 inches I think, though most folks around us say it was 12 inches.  It snowed for nearly 48 hours, though during that time, we also had about 4 hours of sleet.  It was cold, windy, and snowy/sleet-y all day on Friday and Saturday.  Luckily, we had gotten out all the winter gear a few days before and were prepared to get everyone dressed for outdoor adventures.  The best new snow gear came from my mother, who purchased ski goggles for all the kids for Christmas.  They were perfect for this weather.  The kids wore them all day on Friday and Saturday, and even on Sunday because though the wind was not blowing snow in their face, the sun was creating quite a blinding glare.  I was sorry I didn’t have a pair (though I would use anybody’s who had gone inside to warm up).

We did so much outside on Friday (in the driving snow and sleet) – lots of sledding, hiking, and more sledding – that I was completely worn out by Friday evening, and so were the kids.  Walking uphill through heavy snow (and pulling a child in a sled uphill) for hours and hours is quite exhausting.

We spent a bit more time inside on Saturday.  Hythe made a dream catcher for his bedroom after I showed him a video on how to do in from Creative Bug.  The video was for adults and supplies included a brass ring, waxed twine, and nice beads.  But, I gave Hythe an emboidery hoop, some kitchen twine, and Evva gave him some feathers from a dress up mask of hers that was falling apart and he made his own dreamcatcher.  He was very proud, and so was I.  He is hoping to catch some of the bad dreams he has been having lately.  There was also a little dress up in mama’s shawls as William and I went through some of the extra clothes we have.

Then, more sledding, and more sledding.  And, Evva, Anne and I went on a snowy horseback ride while Hythe and William built two snowmen.

We are still enjoying the snow today as it slowly melts away.  Still sledding down our hill, still making snowmen, still throwing the odd snowball.  William and I were talking, and both agreed that while we love the snow, we both feel a little “FOMO” or Fear of Missing Out, when it snows.  There is so much that could be done during the brief snows we get – sledding (on many different hills), skiing, snowboarding, snow hiking, ice finding, snowman building, finding friends doing any of the former – that it can feel like you need to rush around to have fun.  But, during this snow, I felt all I wanted to do was stay at home.  I wanted for nothing and felt so much happier when I was home than tramping around trying to do anything else.  I also started and finished a great book (The Forgotten Seamstress).  And, as much as I have loved these snow days, I am ready to get back to regular life.

summer is . . .

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. . . swinging

. . . s’mores

. . . eating outside (nearly every meal)

. . . lots of sitting, and reading, and working (and some relaxing) outside

. . . playing/wrestling with daddy in the lawn after supper

. . . hikes for the view from Tom’s Rock

. . . hammocks

. . . tree climbing

. . . fruit picking

. . . and lots of other things (namely water playing) that aren’t photographed here – but it’s a start!

spring silly-ness

william steven anneThe warming weather has brought about some distinct behavior changes in all of us.  We are certainly gravitating toward the outdoors.  Meals are taking place more and more outside, the younger ones(especially Hythe) spend lots of time in the creeks around the house hunting salamanders and crawdads.  I am spending much more time in the gardens – vegetable and flower – weeding, planting, hoeing, watering.  William cleaned off all the porches yesterday (and we got some new furniture to lounge on the porches – thanks Mom!) and they are now even more inviting.  This long season of warmth means that we sometimes neglect the inside of the house.  The table is piled with papers, projects, and leftovers from lunch.  The office work piles up.  Laundry accumulates on the couch before it is moved upstairs.  The floors are definitely dirtier as tramping form outside to inside to outside happens frequently (and totally unconsciously of the muddy shoes).  I won’t post any pictures of those things :).

Just like farm animals (picture frisking lambs, leaping goat kids, frolicking foals), the children have gotten a bit sillier since the weather has warmed.  There is lots of chasing, wrestling, gymnastics, and tickling.  There have been fits of uncontrollable giggling at the dinner table, which I try to be disapproving of since it does not fall in the category of good manners.  But child giggles are cute and potentially contagious, so we adults succumb to it or put up with it.  We know it won’t last.

I do love to see them playing with each other, laughing with each other, enjoying the spring.

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what’s growing

The garden is growing.  Peas are starting to creep up the trellis, fava beans are almost 8 inches high.  We are picking lettuce and spinach to eat now which is such a treat.  We are also pulling up some of the walking onions to eat.  They are so pretty this time of year – and also delicious.  The regular onions (Parma) are growing quickly too. I planted potatoes two weeks ago tomorrow.  We got a good bit of rain since then and some warm weather.  I dug up one of the potatoes yesterday to see how they were growing and was disappointed to see the little buds only about a 1/2 inch long.  So, they are growing slowly right now and I have to keep up with those very fast growing weeds until they do pop out of the ground.  By the way, I planted my potatoes with a little compost and organic fertilizer.  Anybody have any good potato growing tips?  And, yes that is a basketball in the garden.  The garden is downhill from the house and basketball goal, so this is where balls end up sometimes.

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The trees are growing leaves!  This is my favorite part of spring.  Dogwoods are in full bloom and the trees on the mountain have a more subdued color autumnal cast.  Almost the reverse of fall, as a dull rust gives way to light greenish yellow then to spring green then to dark green – day by day marching up the mountain.  We have some black gum trees around the house, and this under-appreciated tree is one of my favorites.  In the spring, it puts out its tiny leaves, pointing them strait to the sky in little clumps so that they look like tiny green stars.  Unlike most trees, black gum branches set out from the trunk at 90 degree angles (for the most part), so those tiny stars are perfectly placed to look like celestial bodies held out over the earth.  This week, the black gum leaves have grown a bit more and little flowers are being set.

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And, the children are growing.  Anne is determined to ride horses as often as possible, loves playing soccer, and her excitable spirit is sometimes challenging.  Like the other Anne (of Green Gables) she has high highs and low lows, but she recovers quickly.  Her joys and sorrows and angers run hot and fast.  Evva, due to a small scare last week, seems a little more precious right now.  She is reveling in the spring flowers and growth, and is outside as much as she can be – making fairy houses, decorations, and soil/flower mandalas.  Hythe, like a stereotypical boy, wants to go fishing, dig for worms in the compost, and sled down piles of manure at the farm (he and his cousin call it “poop sledding”).  In other words, he likes getting as dirty and smelly as possible.  Steven wants to do anything his brother is doing, but also wants to go anywhere anyone else is going; “I go too” he is always saying as he runs for the door.  He is talking so much now and says cute things like “Sit a me, mom” (sit with me, mom) or “I go fishing now”.  He also says, “go way, mom, go way!” when he is thinking of doing something that might get him in trouble.  Spying a bag of chocolate chips on the counter, he glances at me, back at the chips, then looks at me and says “go way, mom!”  He is still making big messes in and out of the house while becoming more capable!  Yesterday he dumped William’s tackle box upside down and took all the tube worms out of their bags.  I came home last night to find he had dumped three entire jars of spices into a pan on the stove (garlic powder, dill weed, and cream of tarter – yuck!).  That meant he opened the spice drawer, picked out the jars, took them over to the stove, climbed on the stool, unscrewed the caps, and dumped them out.  Quite capable.  He got so tired the other day, that he fell asleep sitting up while we were watching  a video of Dado talking about WWII.  It was pretty funny and cute.  While they all have their challenging moments, they are fun, loving children, and it is a joy to see them grow.
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it is cold!

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Predictions of snow – the first this year – were coming in Monday morning.  100% chance of 2 to 4 inches.  That would probably be enough to go sledding on, play in, build a small snowman.  We were starting to look forward to it.  About 11 a.m., large snowflakes started falling beautifully from the sky.  School let out early.  Then, the snow turned into a kind-of sleet. Small icy pellets drilling down until there was an inch on the ground.  It lasted all day and all night.  Well, actually not all night, because we woke up to find that icy rain had also fallen in the night, covering everything (even the icy sleet pellets) with 0.2 inch of ice.  Most. Dissappointing. Snow. Ever.

But, the kids had a great time sledding on the ice covered hills around the house.  It was fast, hard ride, and there were a few broken sleds when a child bounced too hard over an icy bump.  And, there were a few raspberries where exposed skin got pulled over gravely ice – my hip during a sledding wipe out, Hythe’s knee and ankle (the boy won’t wear socks and had holes in his jeans), Anne’s face.

The roads were slick sheets of ice, the driveway more like a luge.  It was even hard to walk in the yard (on the grass)!  Needless to say, school has been cancelled ever since, with a valiant attempt yesterday with a 3 hour delay but a 1.5 hour early release when it started to snow again.

And, it did snow again, putting a dusting of snow over all that ice.  And, the temperatures have dropped so that the high today is 10 degrees.  It is cold!

I am ready for spring.

But, William keeps telling me we need to have winter.  That winter is important.  I’m not convinced.  He does seem to relish the coldness, snow, ice,  and similar uncomfortable winter elements.  I, on the other hand, tolerate winter.  I love the time up till Christmas and New Year and then I am ready for spring.  I actually don’t mind snow – it is fun to sled in and play in – or ice when there is pond hockey.  But, the continued bitter cold with no snow, can’t-get-outside-because-it-is-so-cold, bundling of reluctant children, is just not fun.  I do see the beauty in winter.  Even in those cold, gray days I see the breathtaking starkness of the  mountains.  The raw beauty of naked trees.  The silvery sheen of ice on branches.   My children playing outside in the frosty world.

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I also loved the Valentine I saw Anne had made for herself propped up on the art table.

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monochromatic

This is how I often think of winter here.   The sky and some birds provide the only vivid bits of color in nature.  The landscape is often monochromatic, especially in the morning when the sun has not yet come over the mountain and vegetation is covered in frost.  It is starkly beautiful.  A set of colors indescribable – tan and gray, accented with the evergreen of pines and the gray-green of the last of the hemlocks.  The souls of flowers are long gone, leaving only their ghosts and skeletons.  Tree branches are grey or golden brown in the sun, buds still deep in hibernation.

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garden update and CSA box

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We’ve had a number of hard frosts and freezes already this fall.  The fig tree, mulberry tree, and my ginger lilies look very sad.  I have not yet checked out how the vegetable garden fared after this latest cold spell, but I am hopeful that the carrots made it through, since that is the only real harvest from the garden right now, and will be sweeter for it.

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I have never had so many carrots in my garden before and I love it.  I hope to make a carrot soup tonight, and I hope the it goes over better with the children than the winter squash soups have done.  We have eaten lots of fresh carrots and roasted carrots, also.

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The garlic us up, but I have given up on the turnips – they are now a cover crop to be turned into the soil in the spring.  I think I did not order the best (i.e. sweetest) variety to plant.  I also planted some radishes a month or so ago and since I planted so many and we are not prolific radish eaters, they got left in the garden to grow.  And grow they did.  These are the biggest radishes I’ve ever seen!  I’ve not cut one open yet.  I doubt they are edible.

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One of my favorite late fall/winter trees is the Witchhazel.  We have two trees beside our house and I love the bright yellow starburst on their branches.  A sunny, natural decoration in this greyish landscape.  I love it!

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And, finally, I wanted to show off the last of the CSA boxes I have been getting from my sister- and brother-in-law (Annie and Isaiah).  They own and run Flying Cloud Farm here in Fairview, 1.5 miles from our house.  It is a 10 acre well-run, beautiful, organic (but not certified) fruit, flower, and vegetable farm.  I’ve never bought a CSA box from the farm because we have a fairly large garden and I can easily supplement from their fabulous produce nearly all year long.  But, this fall Annie gave me one of their extended season CSA boxes.  They have been packed full of gorgeous broccoli, greens, winter squash, and root vegetables.  We can eat through it all in less than a week, though I do have a bag of turnips in the refrigerator and three huge acorn squash on my counter, accumulating from past weeks.

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Yesterday, I got a cookbook that I am excited about – called Farmer and Chef Asheville.  Annie Louise (my sister-in-law) has a recipe in it!  It will be made tonight with those lovely greens above.

Collard Greens in Coconut Milk

1 (14 oz) can coconut milk

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

6 cloves garlic

2 T minced fresh ginger

1/2 t crushed red pepper

2 bunches collards, stems removed and torn (I like to chop- almost in large chiffonade, though I am sure that is not culinarily correct)

1/2 t each salt and pepper

Pour 1/4 cup coconut milk in large skillet, heat to a simmer.  Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and crushed pepper.  Saute for 3 minutes.  Add the greens and pour over the remaining coconut milk, stirring to coat the greens.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir in salt and pepper.

 

good (Sunday) morning

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Such a gorgeous morning today.  Perfect for a late-ish breakfast outside just after the sun came over the mountain.  Today, and for the next few days, we’ll enjoy that perfect fall weather – not too cold during the day- warm even, chilly at night, with lots of sun.  I am planning to enjoy it.  Hope you do too!

The children started out playing pretend games outside (with a few of their new acquisitions, Amanda!).  Then,we biked and played and cleaned and visited and enjoyed each other and a few friends.  I even got a few minutes to read my own book by myself on the porch swing – such a treat.  A great way to spend a Sunday.  It made me remember that important idea of Sunday as a day of rest.  Despite all of what we did today, it really felt like a day of rest.  And, I needed that.