homestead happenings: buds to seeds
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.
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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.
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:
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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:
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~
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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:
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?