Thursday, May 25, 2017

Rainy Days

The ploughman told me today that, in his fifty years of gardening, he had never seen a Spring like this one. It seems to rain four days, and then give us a day off.  When the ground dries enough, people spring into action with mowers and garden work.  It was a sheer miracle that we got it all done last week, just as another thunderstorm was blowing in.

In the meanwhile, we've been getting out as much as we can, all the while ready to dodge any sudden showers.  The sun peeks through, now and then, which we call "Sun Residue."  May is our wettest month and I do recall some years where it seemed it rained every single day.  I remember being rained out of every campfire program I planned one May as Ranger Brandy.

The children had a tipi on the porch, as you can see, and it was fun to hear them deeply at play as Indian Mice.  Cabin fever struck yesterday and the children seemed like they had been switched out for quite different beings.  We resolved it with watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which has its own plot line around cabin fever.  We'll spend the night out at the Old Davis Homeplace for a sleepover of sorts.  Anything to pass the time until the sun comes out again.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Crafting On :: Tiny Things

I've made pajamas, shorts, and a nightgown in the past week, but none are so photogenic as Willow's most recent creations. Inspired by a doll and bed I made when I was younger, Willow made her kerchief fairy (minus the wings) a bed, quilt, pillow, skirt, and shawl.

These were all made of scraps, some quite small, like the quilt.  I'd kept the little pieces for years, not knowing what to do with the meager amount.  This was perfect!  The fabric for the sheet and pillow case has tiny castles on it.  It's so sweet, I hadn't been able to bring myself to use it.  I think this is a wonderful solution.

How I wish I had such a pretty bed to rest on!

For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Morning Light

Our routine these days includes trips out to the Old Davis Homeplace, The Farm, as Grandma Lois used to call it.  The children and I love it--the immediate departure from life in town, the fields full of hay bales or tall waving grasses, a horse eager to be fed, and cats waiting, too. In preparation for a long week, I went on my own early Saturday morning.

We've had so much rain.  Everything is very full and green, but I'm a little worried about my tomato plants.  The seeds are sprouting nicely, ahead of schedule, even.  I planted so many things this year: corn, October beans, cucumbers, Summer squash, Winter squash, big and tiny pumpkins, potatoes (a little nervous about that, too), tomatoes, basil, parsley, chamomile, calendula, radishes, beets, peas, lettuce, carrots, broccoli.  We could have a very full harvest!

Berries are shaping up and picking will begin in the next few weeks.  Plenty of blueberries and plenty of black and red raspberries.  The grapes weren't harmed by the frost, for once, and apples are looking good.  I am hoping for a Summer full of food preservation.  It will be a wonderful way to begin third grade.

This image is so typical of the life I have known, cows on the hillside on a dewy morning.  I never knew how much I would come to love it.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Nature School :: Lunch with the Ladies

We took a walk on the Appalachian Trail yesterday for Nature School.  Honestly, we don't spend a whole lot of time on it, so Roan thought this was his first time.  This is a very busy time of year and our town is full of thru-hikers and Trail Days is this weekend.  I understand now what my dad said to me years ago, that our area has many great trails with much less traffic.

Still, it is a lovely trail, and I have walked all of it in our area: along high ridges, over rocky crags and down to drowsy streams.  There are many special things along the way and these pink lady's slippers are certainly so.

A friend tried her best at counting them over the weekend and arrived at 320 before she stopped.  Lady's slippers grow in colonies and these are found in acid soils under a grove of white pines.

We managed to find a spot to sit for our picnic where there weren't any growing.  They were in all stages of growth--very tiny to well-established.  According to the Enki materials, they take over ten years to mature and bloom.  We're reading The Legend of the Lady Slipper today, in fact.

Today also brings more work in the garden, since it's finally ready to plant.  I wish you all a Happy Friday! 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Stars once spake to Man.
It is World-destiny 
That they are silent now.
To become aware of the silence
Can become pain for earthly man.

But in the deepening Silence
There grows and ripens
What Man speaks to the Stars.
To be aware of the speaking 
Can become strength for Spirit-Man.

~Rudolf Steiner :: As taken from The Challenge of the Will: Experiences with Young Children by Margret Meyerkort and Rudi Lissau

I have been feeling quite out of place lately, but I suppose that is nothing new for me.  I think I was born out of place.  Okay, not really.  I know I was born at just the right time for whatever my life's work is, but I do feel mournful a lot of the time.  Melancholic--that is me.  It is funny to say that, to think of the predispositions that may come with that term, especially since people thought I was always so annoyingly cheerful in my youth. 

Parenting these days has me thinking (no surprise there).  It feels like things are not the same as when I was a child.  They aren't, of course, though there are many universal human experiences.  Being swamped with information is one concern, as is the presence of screens and televisions everywhere.  I am overwhelmed and it is my job to be the filter and the buffer!  I'm also struggling with helping my children take hold of the world when I am not able to do it myself.  And see, there's the melancholic: wanting perfection where it cannot be.  Bless my heart.

The above verse has been on my mind since I read it last week.  The words confirm what I have been feeling in this swirling, mad world (growing crazier by the day!)  And yet, I do feel there is some significance in being here now, in this work.  It is not paid or degree-driven, but it is so important and the things of real value cannot be monetized.   I am trying to take comfort right when and where I am, and I am often very happy to simply be right here in this place.

I suppose I am working to bring some of the old into this new and changing time through my work with the children.  It will be a help to them later in life, I hope.  I think their knowledge is fairly broad of traditional skills, though there are times that I wish we had a bit more land to work with.  We do have the advantage of the Roland Estate and the Old Davis Homeplace, so I try to do visit them as much as I can.  It is funny to be so fixated on the past when I have always been so concerned with the future.  I used to mark off my calendar a full day ahead.

This is part of the reason for homeschooling for our family.  We do feel there are gaps in public education, gaps that we don't want to widen.  Practical skills save us, time and again, and help us to make everyday miracles that stretch the budget and clear our minds.  There are many moments of simple joy.  Being in this mood, I am reading Lark Rise to Candleford and these words met my eyes yesterday:

Many of the men sang or whistled as they dug or hoed.  There was a good deal of outdoor singing in those days.  Workmen sang at their jobs; men with horses and carts sang on the road; the baker, the miller's man, and the fish-hawker sang as they went door to door; even the doctor and parson on their rounds hummed a tune between their teeth. . .The singers were rude and untaught and poor beyond imagining; but they deserve to be remembered, for they know the now lost secret of being happy on little. 

~Flora Thompson

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

An Evening Up High

Weekdays have a marked difference from our weekends, not just in the simple fact that it's just the children and me.  They are quieter, more structured, more focused, and have more predictability.  All the same, life has enough variables that I do get overwhelmed.  While Willow would prefer to never leave home, I have to.  I don't go shopping or anything like that, but we find out-of-the-way spots where we can just breathe in the evening air.  It makes a world of difference.

Last week, we went up to the Snail Place one night after supper.  I wanted to bring home some litter (antique litter) and just be some place else.  It was so lovely, in the last golden light of the day, but it was also busy.  People often come up their to look out over Rich Valley, and it was a happening spot.  A good evening for it, as much as I enjoy my solitude.  I took a picture of a father and son, as they stood in front of a beautiful expanse.  A man had an easel set up, painting the scene before him.  He was not from here, of course, and meandering home on smaller roads. 

It was interesting to talk to him, to try to capture our feelings for this place in a nutshell.  He asked if there were other good views in the area, and I confirmed that Rich Valley was the best one.  Our state's highest peak is often shrouded in trees and mist.  He had found The Place to See Things.  We told him about the rime ice that often forms there, and Willow told him about Cloudland.  She wanted to fly out into the valley that morning the fog was so thick.  It's where the fairies make the snow, after all.  I got the feeling he could understand her way of seeing things. 

We often meet folks who aren't from around here.  I know our poverty can be shocking, at times, and that it's easy to think we're just a strange collection of people who are still uneducated hillbillies.  I once met a man with a good number of years behind him, and he remarked how surprised he was that a little boy he met was playing so creatively.  Here, in this place.  That thought hasn't left me.  If only people knew how much creativity these mountains require and draw out of you.

That thought aside, it was a lovely evening last week, just golden.  The last moments of the day made us all so happy and calm, like magic.  Such meetings are ones to be remembered.  And it is also important to remember that we are ambassadors of this place, these mountains.  This Cloudland.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Crafting On :: Strawberry Dress

Strawberry prints might be my very favorite.  My parents' kitchen has strawberry wallpaper in it and it always makes me happy to see it.  Willow's new dress is the same way. 

It's Simplicity 9280, the girls' jumper, it was such a pleasure to make.  It has such nice finishing inside.  My only complaint is that the pockets could be bigger, but that is easy to remedy on the next one.  It's a timeless style, to be sure, and would be easy to adapt into a historical costume by simply choosing another fabric and making the skirt longer.  This dress cost about $8 to make, as I did purchase fabric for it.  Most of my sewing projects use fabric I've been given (oh, the fabric I've been given!), but I do make occasional purchases.  It's possible to make nice clothing fairly inexpensively, if you avoid quilt shops. 

This week, it's garden time--potatoes, tomatoes, October beans, corn, pumpkins, cucumbers--all those need to go into the ground and they need a fence around them.  It's a big job, but I still have some sewing, knitting, and felting happening in the background.  I'm working on pajamas for Roan, a wool picture of sheep, and the ever-present Cyclone hat.  For now, I must work on some oatmeal!

For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams.

Monday, May 15, 2017

A May Carol

Oh, the hedges and fields are growing so green, 
As green as grass can be; 
Our heavenly father he watereth them 
With his heavenly dew so sweet.

 ~Cambridgeshire May Song :: Folk Songs of the Southern Appalachians, as sung by Jean Ritchie

There are so many songs and verses written about May, and they are right.  I don't think I ever realized what a joy May is.  We began it driving through the West Virginia countryside and it was just so green.  Even though our Winter was a mild one, the abundance of the new leaves and flowers is still profound.  We cut a lot of flowers from our own garden for Mother's Day, both for my own joy and for my mother.  Mike had to prepare for another week, so the children and I spent part of the day out at the Old Davis Homeplace and then drove over the mountain to the Swing Place.   

It was all so green everywhere, and I guess I was too busy marveling to take more than a picture of the grass.  The daisies were blooming and it seemed the scent of flowers was on every breeze.  Even the grass was a sight to behold.  It was all so tall and waving in the winds.  We saw a field with hay drying in it already!  I hope this abundance lasts.  The drought last year was so difficult, both for gardening and for the spirit.  The nights were chilly and dry and it felt eerily like a desert walking across the cracked soil and crispy grass.  It was not something we are used to here.

I have felt a little sad, having missed May Day as we did.  But, as Summer's Coming In says,

All the days of May
The whole of May,
Are for gingerbread,
For garlands and Maypoles.
For now has summer come in.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Bears & Blooms

A gathering of happy things: 
A teddy bear's picnic, a party for a lost bear's return, fairy houses, and roses.  So many roses.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Crafting On :: More Magic Wool

I often tell my children that we are homeschooling because of the Magic Wool books.  They are unassuming titles, to be certain, just a few dozen pages each.  Long before there were main lesson books on the table or pentatonic songs, these books were introducing me to the nature table and a kindergarten world that was completely different from my own.  They spoke to me in a way that I am still seeking to understand, ten years later.

As enduring has they have been on my shelves, there are still projects from them that I have yet to make.  Feeling out of sorts after our time away, opening them seemed the only fitting thing to do: return to where we started.  As you can see, we made a big bouquet of the flowers from More Magic Wool.  These are simple--just wrap long-stapled wool around a ruler (big or small) and then slip a threaded needle in between.  Tie it off and add a stem in the middle--a pipe cleaner with some wool on one curled end. 

We also made the sweet gnomes with their pocket home, a long-admired project.  This took a LOT of wool, to be sure, and I could have used some more!  Wet felting is not my favorite, I'll admit, since I like things to stay where I put them and to be even. ;-)  Still, leave it to Floris Books include the details that make things successful.  Sewing it onto a blue "silk" as recommended gave it the stability it needed.  The picture still needs a tree or two, but that will come in time.  I have folks here who are keen stick-finders.  The foliage and the ground can change with the seasons.

These little fellows that go inside the pockets were made using the pipe cleaner bodies detailed in the book.  They were fun to make, since I very much enjoy needle felting.  I guess I like wet felting, but it can be a little unpredictable and there is always some roving that just won't stick (short stapled wool is best of for this and I didn't have a lot of that). 

And here is something that is, surprisingly, NOT wool.  This is my Cyclone hat, moving much more slowly than its namesake.  This is some acrylic that I came across, probably forty years old.  It's finer than worsted weight and has the subtle variations in texture that make it more like wool and less like the acrylic yarn that is sold today.  I am so pleased with the emerging pattern in the second half of the hat.  My only complaint is that the ends of the round don't come out as I'd like them--jogless join or not.  Oh, well, it's still a beautiful hat and will likely become my favorite across the years, especially since carpet beetles won't munch on it. ;-)

Well, time for Cream of Wheat around here.  For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Sunday Snippets

There are rumors that White Top had rime ice and snow yesterday, but it was lush and green in Hidden Valley.  The picture above is from last Saturday on White Top, in fact.  I wonder how the tender Spring plants fared in the cold weather, though I guess it is just part of the reality of the High Country.

We had a quiet afternoon and evening, with Willow and Roan spending some time with my parents.  It was just Laurel and me for awhile, which rarely happens.  We celebrated, or passed the time, with hot chocolate, swinging, supper with Becky and Tales from the Green Valley.  Oh, and knitting.  I'm finally getting somewhere on my Cyclone Hat and it's kind of exciting.  I can't wait to share a photo of my progress soon.

It's been a whirlwind couple weeks and I'm really ready for some regular, boring days without many places to go.  The garden needs to be planted (and the tilling done!), some sewing needs to happen, and I need to be outside knitting or reading in the shade.  I've been reading some new old books lately--Siblings Without Rivalry and The Highly Sensitive Person.  The first was quite helpful, since I never had siblings of my own, and its given me lots of food for thought (and hope).  I'm just beginning the second title.

Laurel and Mike are still sleeping this quiet, cold morning.  It seems like May and April traded places with their weather, but I'm always at the ready with sweaters and hats.  A week ago, I had Mike put in the air conditioner because the humidity was warping the pages in my beloved books and I took it out after we got home, since the weather had turned so cool.  I knew that would happen and I didn't mind it one bit.  Well, time to take care of some loose ends before people wake up.

Happy Sunday!