homestead happenings: ordinary (good) life
Col enters my room at 6:45 am, palming an empty beer bottle he filched from the recycling bin.
“I’m ready for an experiment (pronounced “es-peerment),” he announces. Rose follows him in and crawls into my bed. “Can you tell me all the options for breakfast?” she asks (as if we have a breakfast menu).
“Can we all just snuggle for awhile before anyone starts asking for stuff?” I beg them.
The kids lean into me, one on each side. This lasts for 45 seconds before their hands find each other across the soft sand dunes of my body and start pushing at each other. “Guys!” I shout, my tank of creativity on low both at the very start and the very end of the day.
“Can we read the next chapter of The Horse and His Boy and can I have some cherry berry tea with breakfast?” Rose asks all in one breath.
“I’m gonna need some vinegar and baking soda. And a bottle cap.” Col informs me.
I’m so slow in the morning, I can’t even find the right channels to process their words. I just want to savor these warm little bodies and run my hands across their growing heads, in a cocoon of sweet denial, as if this were all that were required of us today.
The next time I find them I’m caffeinated and dressed. They’re hustling between the bathroom sink and their bedroom, no longer contenders for my attention; now collaborators in repurposing various bottles from the recycling bin, which they fill with watercolor paint and water. I can feel the dual notions: watercolors are for painting *and* this is going to end in a terrible mess, tap me on the shoulder. I ignore them and exclaim over the “orange juice” mixed up in the empty Drano bottle.
On the homestead:
:: Just like that the peaches are done. So done, that not only is there no longer a towel amassed with ripening peaches on our bedroom floor, but there isn’t even a single wrinkled peach lying fuzzily around on the kitchen counter. It’s like those days when my children were little and I felt like I’d spend the rest of my life scanning for chokeables and slapping magnets back on the fridge after someone batted them off with Frankensteinian-toddler hands. Except it doesn’t really last forever.
The last peachy thing I made was a batch of Vanilla Bean Peach Butter (fancy enough to be capitalized), which is exotic and expensive enough that if you end up tasting some at our house please remark on how you can actually taste the vanilla.
Not earwig poop, but real $20/ounce vanilla bean seeds!
Vanilla Bean Peach Butter Recipe
Pit and quarter (don’t bother peeling, peels will disintegrate into the loveliness of the peachy color) 20 or so peaches. Scrape the seeds of 2 vanilla bean pods into the peach butter and chop the remaining pods into 1″ pieces and drop into peach butter. Simmer and stir for 2-4 hours (the longer you simmer, the more concentrated, thick and naturally sweet the jam becomes). Add 1/2 – 1 cup honey. Pull out vanilla bean pods and process in Water Bath Canner for 2o minutes, or 35 minutes at 6512 feet.
:: My parents just arrived for a 2 month (2 months!) stay in Durango, where they find regular and refreshing hilarity in the kids’ kidness.
My mom asked me yesterday, “do you just laugh all day long?”
:: I hosted 45 people in my backyard last weekend for the 6th annual Tour de Farms, an event where people bike around town to see different homesteads. I espoused on edible weeds and the joys of hand-watering and didn’t even once mention pee-fertilizer.
Rose changed 6 times that day, settling on the purple, velour leotard for the tour.
I heard later from the director of the tour that women were snapping photos of the root cellar on their phones and texting husbands with, “can you build this for me?” Apparently Dan has raised the bar for Durango men. Sorry about that; he’s sort of driven.
:: Every time I gaze down into the root cellar, I am amazed. For the span of this project I’ve been focusing on place to store apples and Dan’s root-cellar physique (I had to check in with Dan recently, making sure he didn’t feel objectified or anything. He assured me he didn’t; he’s good that way), while Dan’s been doing the heavy mental lifting of engineering and physics.
The full truth is that Dan has been toiling in the root cellar like a Wall St. exec, working late into the night by headlamp and reviewing plans in bed. Everyday that he’s not at work, he’s in the hole. We cancelled what would have been our 4th annual Lizard Head camping trip (2nd here, 3rd here) due to peaches and root cellar.
Dan’s happy in there. It’s kind of like the grown up version of piecing together legos.
One of three niches to hold gallon jars.
I missed it when Dan and Jojo laid the lintel, which weighs more than the two of them together. When I asked them how they lowered it 5 feet down into the root cellar, they smiled and said, “tips from our ancient Egyptian ancestors.”
:: Zach (boyfriend of downstairs summer resident) taught Col to play chess last week, which Col loved in that way that I suspect had 75% to do with this nice guy who was not his parent taking interest in him and 25% to do with the game itself.
I’d overhear Zach reminding Col, “now are you sure you want to make *that* move?” So kind.
:: Dan has been a steady acorn assembly line: picking, shelling, grinding and mixing into waffle batter.
“This is wealth; think of the calories,” Dan says. And think of the acorn worms slithering across our floor, which become exotic treats for the chickens. Also, this is the year that I am no longer bugged out by fruit flies who kept a steady vigil on the over-ripe peaches. Last year was the year I got over aphid-phobia.
Acorn waffle batter.
Dan and I celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary last weekend. We didn’t actually get any date-time, but we ate huge acorn-waffle breakfasts topped with peach sauce; we cracked early beers and served peach bbq deer roast with garden veggies for dinner; we romped in the garden and the root cellar; we played an ear-splitting game of yahtzee with the kids (dice on tile at 9pm – aaahgh). All of which looks a little like ordinary life, which as you know, is a good life. As Dan said, “it’s an ongoing celebration.”
(Had we gotten a babysitter and gone out, I would have enjoyed the hell out of that too).
PS: Col got to do his vinegar/baking soda/beer bottle espeerment, take 1, 2, 3 and 4.