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homestead happenings: but spring was comin’ on

April 3, 2012

I’m at the coffee shop. Robert Earl Keen is on the radio, his weathered voice singing: “a chill north wind was blowin’/but spring was coming on/as I wondered to myself just how long I had been gone….and when I caught your eye, I saw you break into a grin, feel so good, feeling good again.” 

This song transports me—instantly—to the bundle of years Dan and I lived in a houseful of revolving friends. We put a ping pong table in our sunroom, around which ad hoc parties sprung up nightly. Our friends stopped by, our housemates’ friends stopped by, until everyone blurred happily together, and there was always someone calling “winner” on the next game.

Our 2 kittens scrabbled around the straw floor chasing ping pong balls. Someone’s dog sniffed around looking for remnants of the last elk butchering session. Joints burned. Hours passed. Dan’s bows hung on the wall, my chard plants exhaled greenness into the night air.

If Allen Mathews was there, he’d pick up his guitar, start strumming and singing: So I strolled across ‘ol Main St, down a flight of stairs/I stepped into the hall and saw all my friends were there/ a neon sign was flashing, welcome, come on in/it feels so good, feelin’ good again.

At the time I didn’t know who wrote this, just that Allen could always be counted on to play it – so much that it just felt like the musical accompaniment to our young lives, the very anthem of being 26 and unencumbered, of being cushioned in an extended family of friends.

Today at the coffee shop Robert Earl Keen’s gravely voice (though I still hear Allen’s–who’s moved to Portland, naturally—voice) sings: a chill north wind was blowin’/but spring was coming on/as I wondered to myself just how long I had been gone.

Here at 6512 feet, spring is like a new baby we’re all crowded around. The apricot trees are decked out in white blossoms, snow is like a rare bird sighting winging through the air, the grass is greening up electric, and I’m wondering just how long I had been gone.

On the homestead:

:: There’s suddenly things to do in the garden, even if it’s mostly just strolling around waiting for weeds to pop up so I can eagerly pull them. Or eat them.

Dandelion greens on tacos (Liz Farr: your bowls still star in our meals every night!)

:: The homeschool co-op kids planted peas in our garden yesterday. Tthis was after Col mused cheerfully about the squash seed they each planted a month ago: “It’s funny, my squash is the biggest even though I’m the smallest!” Word, little man.

Mathew and Seneca planting climbing peas.

I gave Col and Kiva the choice to plant shelling peas in rows or just willy-nilly. I wasn’t prepared for the happiness that the phrase willy-nilly would bring them.

:: Col and Rose both upgraded to the next-size-up bike, and we’ve been hopping on our foot-powered steeds as often as possible. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I both love riding bikes with the kids and doing so gives me 10 heart attacks a minute.

Last weekend, we rode bikes to the river with friends. Another friend met us on the sandy beach and still others passed by on the foot bridge, spotted and joined us. Soon there were 7 adults (5 of which were former ping-pongers), 8 kids, multiple sunburns and that feeling of having crawled out of winter to find that spring’s neon sign was flashing, welcome, come on in/it feels so good, feelin’ good again..

:: When Dan totes home elk poop for me from a recent hike, I get that sweet feeling that he’s always thinking of me.

strawberries sipping nitrogen nuggets

:: So, I’m on my second batch of kombucha, and I still can’t tell if I’m brewing a fermented soda of health, or just, y’know, a soda.

kombucha hobnobbing with soaking pintos.

:: This look can only be translated as: I’m onto you and your fidgety, swinging legs, sister.

:: The other night Col requested to wash dishes. He washed one, singular pot for 1/2 of the Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits album.

This counter space you see? Pretty much all we got.

:: Remember how in that podcast I talked about ignoring kids AKA giving them space to get bored and then creative? Last week, Col, Rose and their friend Mathew had a spontaneous yard sale in our front yard. They engineered the entire thing and let me know they didn’t want me participating. Mathew squeaked out a complimentary Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the violin. They each made $2.25 and some new friends.

:: What’s kind of crazy, or maybe perfectly logical, is that 12 years later we still hang out with so many of those friends from the ping-pong days…now our kids are all buddies. It’s like a magical Disneyland ride that goes on and on forever. This is our dear friend Ben, who, incidentally, was there that night in 2000 when the ping pong table got set up, reading to our collective brood of children.

When I came home from the coffee shop, we got the kids set up with quiet time and I told Dan I had a song to play for him. I queued up Feeling Good Again on YouTube, and we held each other and laughed (okay, I cried a little) at the absurdity and beauty of it all.



26 Comments leave one →
  1. teresa permalink
    April 4, 2012 8:21 am



    what a beautiful life it is that we all have! in this season if growth and re-birth it is so apparent that the spirally cycles of our life are forever intertwining and connecting. there is just something about having old friends who we associate with the freedom of youth interact with our children, and their children, and all together! love it.

    how alike we all really are. it amazes me!
    have a beautiful day mama!!


    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      April 4, 2012 10:24 am

      > there is just something about having old friends who we associate with the freedom of youth interact with our children, and their children, and all together! YES!

  2. April 4, 2012 9:38 am

    Looks like there is lots going in your spring plans. I love this time of year, there are just so many possibilities and new beginnings that lie ahead. Enjoy.

  3. April 4, 2012 10:09 am

    I love this.

  4. April 4, 2012 11:11 am

    “a magical Disneyland ride that goes on and on forever.” I wasn’t sure I wanted to take the time to read your post today though I’m glad I did since you gave us the meaning of life – now I have something to remember when things get too confusing or complicated.

  5. April 4, 2012 11:20 am

    In a parallel life, one of of all the myriad possibilities, I would have settled in Durango. And maybe, just maybe, I’d get to hang out with you and exchange words and stories over coffee once in a while. Luckily, I’ve found your blog and I love the glimpses and breezes from the mountains that come sailing through with each post.

  6. April 4, 2012 11:40 am

    this is so good. spring has got me a little buggy this year for some reason so thanx for the shift.

  7. Steph permalink
    April 4, 2012 11:43 am

    Ahh…. nostalgia. Such a good old friend of mine! (; I remember more than one Thanksgiving dinner around said ping pong table! And, OH! That yard sale sign!!!!! Are you going to keep that forever? (or, at least the photo of it?). I love how innovative your kids are!


  8. Anonymous permalink
    April 4, 2012 11:45 am

    The family and I will be visiting at the end of July and, “I’ve got winner.”


  9. ike permalink
    April 4, 2012 5:44 pm

    I love Col’s expression watching Rose eyeing his construction.
    Clever getting kids to plant your garden

  10. Barb permalink
    April 4, 2012 8:49 pm

    What Ike said, haha, especially about getting the kids to do the work; and Col has excellent taste in pot-scrubbing music. You DO realize how incredibly lucky you are to have that depth of community? I think it is a rare thing.

  11. April 4, 2012 10:25 pm

    From Col bonding with the squash to the picture of the biking posse, I must say I’m totally smiling for how your Spring is springing on those mountains of yours. I love that song, too and man does it transport me into a different place of beautiful.

  12. Liz permalink
    April 5, 2012 9:13 am

    I love that song! I have it on my Mindmix tape (cd) and I listen to it all the time. Thanks again for coffee and tears. I’m so glad I can be art of your daily life.

    • April 5, 2012 9:54 am

      Liz, I especially love it when we’re having friends over for dinner and watching the face of the person who gets the spread-legged-woman-birthing-the-world-plate that you made. xo

  13. Ania permalink
    April 5, 2012 9:35 am

    it’s a happy post, right?… why am I crying then?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      April 5, 2012 9:45 am

      I know! I guess tears and laughter live just over the fence from each other.

  14. April 5, 2012 9:48 am

    I’m wishing I was 15 years older, sad to miss out on the “unencumbered” san juan drive days…so HAPPY yer my mama co-conspirator, though. xo

  15. julia permalink
    April 5, 2012 12:44 pm

    Oh man, I think this piece might be my first real closure to the “dayz before children and careers” Rachel! They really are over, aren’t they. I mean, I knew that, but in a sort of “too busy to really consciously aknowledge it” sort of way. Thanks for the tune and the tear! Reunion – absolutely!

  16. April 5, 2012 3:13 pm

    oh yay. i love this whole darn post. i love robert earl keen, too, especially this song. thank you for this!

  17. April 5, 2012 6:11 pm

    This post. Right here. Inspires me to open my doors more often, be a bit more spontaneous with friends and to treasure each and every stage and phase of life, because at some point, I’ll look back on it and think of them as the ‘good ol days’ or the days that I wasted. Community is messy, solitude may be clean and organized, but man can it be lonely. Time to get more messy…….

  18. April 5, 2012 9:42 pm

    So much LOVE. I am glad I came here, I’ve missed your blog. xoxo

  19. April 6, 2012 12:18 am

    Love that song. We have that same group of friends, but now we’re all spread out across too many states. One friend played Robert Earl Keen’s, “Jessie with the long hair hanging down” at our wedding. Good stuff. Life has never been the same without *that* group of friends. So lucky you are!

  20. April 6, 2012 8:16 pm

    I’m always telling the Critter not to “dilly-dally,” which he loves. That is, he loves to dilly-dally, and he loves the term. Gotta try out “willy-nilly” with him.

    Wish I had a group like your ping-pong friends. My friends are scattered all over….

  21. martha permalink
    April 8, 2012 8:32 pm

    “the ping-pong days” is the most excellent term for those days… no matter whose they were or where they happened. won’t you write a novel (and keep up this blog all the while too… I’m sure you can). i can see the chapters spewing forth.

  22. April 11, 2012 9:50 pm

    “When Dan totes home elk poop for me from a recent hike, I get that sweet feeling that he’s always thinking of me.” Only you, Rachel, can make this sound romantic.

    Loved, loved, loved this post. So glad I finally found the time to read the ones I missed.

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