Homestead happenings: full
So seriously, we’ve been fishing a lot lately.
I got an assignment to write about trout fishing for a magazine I love (and Dan’s been commissioned to do some field sketches). Except it’s a terrible time to catch fish because of the spring run-off muddying and whipping up the creeks. But damn if we don’t love a challenge (Dan: fishing, me: writing).
The kids have their own poles and Dan has been such a hero, teaching them to cast, working with the quirks of their cheap equipment, retrieving snagged hooks from bitingly cold creeks, and taking their fishing lust seriously.
Last week at Pastorius Reservoir Col fished for 3 hours straight, throwing his line out and reeling it back like a wind up toy designed to do one thing. “I like how you keep fishing kid, that’s the way to catch fish – to keep fishing,” Dan said to Col’s stalwart figure on the banks, which is the simple kind of wisdom I imagine fathers have been saying to sons in Minnesota for the past 10,000 years.
We saw a flock of white-faced ibis (uncommon, migratory) slicing through the air like a platoon of black jets, and in a moment which couldn’t have been more stunning if scripted by Hollywood: an osprey swooped down and pulled a wiggling, silver trout from the lake.
Oh, how I love this place.
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On the Homestead:
:: Last week we woke to a light dusting of snow on the nearby ridges that tuck in our valley. The day blew in windy and cold and at one point I stood at the window watching snowflakes and apple blossoms swirl to the ground, which is totally how Spring would describe itself if it had an “about” page.
Spring is coming on S L O W in a delicious sort of way, like someone leaving one bite of brownie on your doorstep each day.
And yet, life is full; full of summer dreams and good garden work and noticing each new tree as it pops with green.
Everyone’s wearing their own brand of spring euphoria. I toss seeds in the ground like some giddy old woman throwing cracked corn to the pigeons, chuckling to myself as the names collide in my head: teddy bear sunflowers, golden parsnips, bright lights chard. Col’s been building castles and huts and mouse-houses with pieces of lumber, rocks, sticks and mud; he calls me over to see his latest architectural feat and my heart swells with this funny happiness for him – that he gets to be himself. And Rose putters around the yard steeping mint leaves and dandelion blossoms in muddy water, serving up tea to chickens, and when she thinks no one’s watching, taking exploratory, gritty sips herself.
No one seems to be able to pull themselves away from a late afternoon in the yard, except it’s not really late afternoon anymore, it’s 7pm and there’s no dinner plan other than the same pot of pinto beans we’ve been feeding the family from for the last 3 days.
:: Last night Dan said “I’m going out to pick some spinach and chives for my omelet tomorrow morning,” which keeps flitting through my head like some notable movie quote.
:: Col’s artwork from school from their “spring sing” performance. Why does a bunch of kids singing never fail to make me cry?
:: Last week from inside I saw our cat snatch a bird from the masses feeding on the ground. I sent the kids out to see if they could retrieve it. They found this pine siskin in our sunroom and carried her gently outside.
Col and Rose took turns holding her (and petting her, which according to Col: “touching a bird is not like touching a frog. Because you know those oils? On your hands? Those can kill a frog. But not a bird.”). We eventually put her inside our bird-feeder hotel high off the ground, to recuperate and hopefully fly away, which she did. Afterwards Col said “she was just catching her breath.”
“Right,” I said. “She was probably thinking: oh boy, first that cat had me, then those kids had me.”
“But those kids were more nicer,” said Rose.
:: Dan brought home a truckload of the most luscious horse manure (locals, I’m telling you, this stuff is the bomb and there’s plenty more).