Skip to content

homestead happenings: buds to seeds

August 24, 2011

I can remember this from every other late August in the mountains – the plants droopy and fading to yellow; the meadows heady with the almost sickeningly sweet smell of ripening seeds and decomposing leaves; the chill in the morning and evening like a gentle tap on the shoulder from a friend whose face you can’t quite remember in the raw heat of the day.

And usually at this time I’m stirring a melancholy soup, tossing in river playdates, ripe garden produce and bare summery legs, watching them dissolve into the murky waters of my own longing.

But something is different this year. I don’t know if it’s that we’re trying out a homeschooling/public school mash up for Col (more on this later); or that September’s bounty is still a gossipy whisper amongst the garden plants, or simply that we’ve been present—in the mountains, in the garden—for this summer’s journey of buds to seeds.

*** ** *** ** *** ** *** ** ***

Last weekend we brought the kids back to Lizard Head camp (last year’s trip here), where they’ve cut their teeth on wild mushrooms, fresh trout and the loveliness of returning somewhere at the same season, one year older.

~picking wild strawberries (can you see them? There were gazillions!), which we’ve watched leaf out in June, flower in July and now transform into bursting little nuggets of sweet~

It was also Dan and my 9 year wedding anniversary, and our honeymoon was spent in these very mountains, camping and hot-springing and catching fish and feeling very fancy with our egg-crate mattress in the back of the truck and cooler full of Guinness, eggs and basil.

“I’ve got some special anniversary treats for you; we’re going to celebrate all weekend!” Dan winked as we packed the car on Friday. And because stamped on every fold of my brain is the fine print: and children, my expectations are calibrated. Like, romantic is holding hands in camp chairs while Col catapults rocks off the dangling strings of our tarp and Rose assesses the fullness of chip bags.

~A “Col-a-pult” says Dan~

And I’m only wistful for that honeymoon time in the vaguest sense. It’s like watching a grainy Hollywood film of your life, except you’re ten pounds thinner and have this bizarre habit of thinking in terms of what you want to do for the next hour or so.

And I squint at the film and recognize ourselves, barely, and then turn back to how it really is, which is like when the optometrist gives you two choices: is it clearer now or now? And your own life comes into sharp focus and it’s the only now there is: Rosie crawling into bed with us this morning clawing so vigorously at her mosquito bites our bed shakes. Col begging me to explain all the newspaper comic strips to him, which turns into an impossible dissertation on irony and puns. And everything is so full and now, there’s no room for the useless organ of regret or nostalgia.

On the homestead:

It’s flower season in the garden and I’m as dopey as a bee over all this blooming beauty:

I’ve never been a plant-in-rows kind of farmer. Behold: broccoli, chives, carrots, chard, beebalm, hollyhocks and cosmos, co-mingling:

~truthfully, what happens is I do plant in some approximation of rows and then flowers will self-sow between the rows and in the walkways, and who am I to say no to the honeybee buffet of sumptuous beauty?~

The OMG tomato harvest when we returned from camping:

And, in the cycle of buds to seeds, collecting frumpy brown seeds from from the spinach planted in March:

*** ** *** ** *** ** *** ** *** ** ***

With archery season and food preservation on the marquee for September, Lizard Head is our last family mountain camping trip of the season, as usual.

We found some small bright chanterelles, which was Col’s favorite part of the camping trip. Rose’s was not having to wash hands after she peed. Don’t think about that one too hard.

While Dan went off in search of wild aquatic protein the rest of us played on the Dolores River. Col got busy making a “rock village:”

Rose danced around in willow-branch river bling:

And I worked on a set of family hula hoops:

~red framed sunglasses available at your nearest gas station!~

We celebrated Dan’s return:

Back at camp Col engineered an acorn roaster:

~roasting acorns leaches the tannins out and turns them into soft, oily, delicious treats – especially when dipped in nutella~

*** ** *** ** *** ** *** ** ***

The hula hoops came in handy when we drove into Telluride for the annual mushroom festival:

We actually came to Telluride to escape our rainy camp, and for a round of hot chocolate and fancy coffee drinks, but landed in the middle of this zany festival celebrating the intersection of human culture and fungal culture. The kids got right into the joyous mix of joyousness.

We danced and marched in the parade, amongst the happiest, wackiest people of all ages, everyone feeling good about being freaky:

We jumped out of the parade for a moment to visit the Telluride Free Box, and scored Rosie’s new winter jacket!

We ran into Durango friends, including one of the families of our homeschool co-op. This is Lianne, she does amazing artwork with the kids:

And her husband Cody, outdoor educator and musician, drumming with Col while a hundred people danced:

~man, it’s going to be a great school year~

On the drive home, the kids (and Dan) snoozing peacefully as we zoomed down through several ecosystems before landing back on our doorstep of high desert, I thought about how for the kids, this weekend at Lizard Head will blend seamlessly into every other trip this summer. It’s a tiny thread woven into the fabric of their childhoods. But for me, it marks the fruition of a season lived fully.

How’s late August feeling for you?



17 Comments leave one →
  1. August 24, 2011 8:51 am

    Yeah for homeschooling co-op peeps!
    What an awesome post…. I’m loving everything… I want to know how to make hula hoops & I want to go to a mushroom fest & my oldest (nearly 13) had that same rei jacket that Rose is sporting…. and I can’t believe you are wearing jackets and hats…. it’s STILL 90+ degrees here and August in the south beats February in the north. HANDS DOWN!
    Glad you’re back :)

    • shaina permalink
      August 24, 2011 2:01 pm <— hula hooping making website

  2. August 24, 2011 9:08 am

    Wonderful…that looks like the best weekend ever (except my kids would be fake-retching at the prospect of all those glorious mushrooms). Late August feels way too much like, “wait, wait, I’m not finished yet!” I have plans to cram every little last thing we didn’t get to this summer into next weekend. Wish me luck.

  3. August 24, 2011 9:23 am

    similar feelings. This is quite possibly my most beloved post from you ever.
    love you.

  4. Kathy permalink
    August 24, 2011 9:40 am

    Brings tears to my eyes, being so close to earth and child, and trout for breakfast (OH YUMMMM). I’d certainly abandon myself to free flowing days.

    Homeschooling is no different, truly. If I had to do our 16 years over again, I would do it as you do summer, but I’d camp at Lizard Head in the winter too. I’d wear those gorgeous stripey socks and sing songs of gratitude to the mushroom (my husband won’t even touch them). I’d do math with them and read the flowers and their seeds, the seasons too. I’d write our story differently, for sure.

    It’s hard to believe we finished seven years ago… sigh.

    Yes, say YES to the honeybee buffet of sumptuous beauty. Just teach as you already teach. They will learn more this way than from any book, at least for now. (I know your children love books, YEAH!) Life IS school. Let your children’s curiosity guide your teaching…

    Disclaimer: No, I am not one of those mothers who deny the value of books or structured learning. We used some of the best classical stuff around. I did not ascribe to unschooling. But I wish I had some days. Let no one else’s school patterns determine yours.

    Best wishes for your fist year!!!

  5. August 24, 2011 10:04 am

    Once again you have taken a simple collection of memories and turned it into something profound. All of that full and now business is so very true.

    The mushroom festival looks far more interesting than any fancy coffee drinks – Colorado mountain towns have the best celebrations. I’m excited to see how your schooling mish-mash works out. Col and Rose seem to be so perfectly folded in to the fabric of your community there that they could learn and thrive regardless of the school they are or are not in.

  6. Melissa permalink
    August 24, 2011 10:17 am

    I love late August. I am also feeling less nostalgic and longing, which I tend to feel at the change of seasons. But this year I am feeling more present and just in it. It helps to simply love this place and time we find ourselves in, to embrace it all without so much “when this happens then I will feel (fill in the blank),” you know?

    Good stuff, this post! Glad you all are enjoying and rolling (ha! puns and hoola hoops, I’m such a dork!) with it, too!

  7. ike permalink
    August 24, 2011 11:01 am

    What a wonderful blog! You put it so well when you describe how we flit back and forth from enjoying the present to then recognizing it will change and thinking perhaps it will not be as good in the future .
    Here, on the west coast of California, I am working at engaging with the fog when it comes and recognizing how beautiful it can be (and that it is our natural air conditioning) even when it lingers for several days.

  8. Christy permalink
    August 24, 2011 12:08 pm

    Can we go camping with you? Cause I am still sweltering here in the south. Your blog is like a sweet breeze that helps remind me to breath. Right now everything is especially sweet after a sudden hospital stay. Everyone is better and home now. But I had a very difficult time being on the other side of the bed. (As in patient spouse instead of nurse) After a surreal four days of sickness and worry and tests, home feels so inexpressibly luxurious. My own bed! My own shampoo! Sleeping next to my husband! Talk about a reminder to savour the sweet moments. And Rachel, your words were a little slice of peace for me. While he snored, and I tried not to let my mind stay in worse case mode I read in your archives and laughed and sighed and escaped a little. ( and was teary eyed over Col’s infancy story. Holy cow, months in the hospital with a child. I’m not sure how you survived it sane.) So for now I am a little in love with the whole world again. So I guess I’m saying if you ever want to ditch writing, know your words and pictures gave comfort to a stranger during a really sucky, scary time in said strangers life. So….thanks.

  9. August 24, 2011 1:28 pm

    I love this corner of the interwebs so freaking much. Just sayin’.

  10. August 25, 2011 9:20 am

    As always, your blog is a treasure..I so enjoy the life you and hubby are giving the children..”it’s a wonderful live” for real :o)

  11. August 25, 2011 3:43 pm

    stirring the melancholy soup… you make it sound so pretty! and it is, it’s beautiful, really. (would it be august if i didn’t feel completely overwhelmed?) xoxo

  12. August 26, 2011 10:00 am

    Reading this reminds me of just how much we DIDN’T do this summer. It has been a weird one for us – cooler temps and more thunderstorms, esp on weekends. Feels like the season never really began for us.

    But at least I get to live vicariously through you. Mushroom Festival? LOVE!

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      August 26, 2011 2:25 pm

      Also, honey: pregnancy and newborns can slow down your summer activity to-do list.


  13. August 27, 2011 2:13 pm

    oh beautiful!!! I love the garden shots…and so glad you’re enjoying the great outdoors! Happy Anniversary!


  1. homestead happenings: ordinary (good) life « 6512 and growing
  2. homestead happenings: socialized abundance, fungally speaking « 6512 and growing

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I love hearing from you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s