Monday, March 15, 2010

Okay ye olde feminists...

Somedays I wake to hear the sounds of the birds outside and I wish I could crawl to the top of  me tree... you know, that tree.  It was in my backyard, taller than many in the neighborhood, and if I climbed high enough in it, you couldn't see me.  Up there, the tree swayed.  You couldn't see me, and in all likelihood, I couldn't hear you.  Not over the sound of the wind.  It looked across the weird scraggly woods behind our yard, all tangled with wild vines and things that don't grow here now.  I could see the waterfall on the other hill on brisk spring days like today.

The strange thing is, of course,  that a ten minute walk in the other direction and you were in real urban neighborhoods.  But from that tree, in the backyard, looking out, it was like the city didn't even exist. I could hide up there for hours and just be.  Feel the wind in my hair.  Smell the strange spring cold air.  Somehow, it was always just barely spring when I was up there.

Maybe my skin would begin to crawl waiting for the warm summer months to arrive.  Maybe, as I dreamt of the smell of mock orange and lilacs, the splash of forsythia's yellow, the touch of violets in the grass, maybe I just needed to see beyond the horizon some. 

Or maybe it was my birthday.  And so I had to think about being from some other mother, some other place, some other time.  Sort of as if I fell in from outer space in my tin foil space ship (just like the one they said to make out of boxes and tin foil in the Purple Cow book from the 70s) and into your lap.

But it was always spring.

It is spring now.  My birthday was just a few days ago.  And I am seething with the desire to get out.  Have purpose.  Move beyond the now.  And yet, I am simultaneously digging my nails in, holding on to yesterday.  Seems I am still a little bit alien in a strange stratosphere.  And my little alienettes won't always be there beside me. 

So I take a tentative step toward building something.  Throw down some basic foundational rocks.  But I am not sure that got me anywhere.

Funny how women when I was born were starting to enjoy the choices feminism brought them.  You could actually leave this life, this house, this mothering thing, they said.  Ya know, do something for yourself.  Have a life.  Be proud of making the decision to be someone besides your titles of wife and mother.

But somehow, it seems that the anger at having to be a mother has stolen the joy of being a mother.  If women can be free, it means men can be, too.  If women can go to work, then really it means that they should.  So I get to feel guilty when I am not working, that hole of impending dread in my stomach when I realize how quickly the kids are growing is to be ignored and tossed aside.  Feel me instead! screams the guilt.  You should be busier!  Contribute more!  Want something else.

After all, here in American, we're not supposed to want what we have, right?  After all, if we want what we have we won't lust after anything.  If we don't lust, we don't rob, beat, buy or steal.  If that happens, life as we know it grinds to halt, the street party stops and we all... well... have to go back to being ourselves.  And why would we do that?  We might find out just how un-alien we all are.

The red winged black birds sang yesterday for the first time this spring.  Chirk-chiiirck-chiiiir-uriick!  Made me want to climb to the top of the nearest tree, sway in the spring breeze, and watch for spaceships. 

But I climbed back down.  Put in that offer to help out at a part time job.  Kissed my kids.  There wasn't any sap today (too warm last night, not warm enough today) so I didn't have much I had to do outside.

Sadly, I turned inside, and began to hoe throw the "stuff" that accumulated over the last few moves and winter and out of my raven-esque need to not forget the past.  It's shiny. 

My birthmother didn't call on my birthday for the first time in oh, 15 years.  It really hurt.  Felt a bit like I really did come from outer space.  But you said you loved me.  And that made all the difference.

Maybe I was never an alien in a tree trying to figure the earth out.  Maybe I was just a little bird in a nest up there.  Waiting for the wind to fill my wings. 

I think  maybe I have fallen out of the nest a few thousand times, and maybe I have even managed to fly back up and flutter out on a branch or two... on purpose, even.  Maybe I should try and catch that breeze this time.  Just jump.... and go.... and really be me.  Guilt, love, and raven-ness included.

Monday, March 01, 2010

March like a lion...

So here comes March... the birthday month, as I used to know it (although I daresay that is December in this house).

Ice shanties are coming off the lakes, even though the snow still falls.  The cold hasn't been too cold, only in the 20s at night, and we've seen 30s and 40s in the daytime, depending on the amount of sun.  Today, yet another storm spins off the ocean, bringing drips and drops of snow and rain, and I assume I will yet again be stuck in the driveway.  I hope not, because I need to pick up Aidan and Sage from their dad, and Aidan begins wrestling today.

Despite the on-going snow, the lilies are up next to the chimney on the south side of the house.  And the weeping willows south of here look suspiciously like they might be thinking about budding.  This week we will tap the maples, and begin the process of boiling some sap... probably in the middle of the driveway.  Next year, I'm sure we will have figured out a better option (actually a friend of Col's has a set up we can buy... but not until summer).   The kids and I are looking forward to the sweet smell of boiling sap, the quiet time of having to hang out next to a fire, the taste of scallops steamed in the sweet air above the syrup pan.  Someday, I hope our home sugar house is as busy and interesting a place to be as the one at Sterling was for all of us,.

We finally took down the hearts that were everywhere around the house, but I expect to make paper shamrocks and egg-container tulips with Nadia (and maybe the rest) the next few days to stick around the house.  I even have a new project... twig dandelions made with twigs and homemade yarn puffballs (you know... like "warm fuzzies" from summer camp).  My string of clover lights go up as I single-handedly try to recreate the Irish exuberance of my Syracuse childhood.   I think parades and shamrock shakes and green milk and green birthday cake and spring just around the corner... leprechauns and rainbows and kelly green everywhere.  Spring is so far from arriving in March in the NEK, but the Syracusan in me expects it anyway.  After all, once in awhile, it was green and warm on my birthday, and that is in less than two weeks.  If my daylilies can be optimistic, why not me??

We have been making the most of the winter we finally have, however, with increased runs down the sledding hill, one straight down the hillside close to the big-house's driveway (makes us sound like sharecroppers on a plantation, eh?), and one with a little less slant coming down the old farm road than angles across the property from the field around the big-house to our line of maples.  We built snow monoliths and snowmen around the front yard the other day, digging right down to the grass.  We then painted them with spray spritz bottles full of food coloring water... vibrant greens, yellows (and yes, everyone pretended that was "yellow snow"), blues, and reds, and all the colors they make in between.  We were chased inside that day by the snow turning to rain, and the colors pushed toward the ground, leaving only a brown ring around the bottom of deformed snow monoliths. 

The waning hours of winter also give us time to think ahead to spring and summer.  I have been perusing seed catalogs, trying to avoid any that get seeds from the grower in California that Monsanto recently bought (really?  they have to own the mini-gardener's soul as well?).  And thinking about what I will just get at farmer's market.  The garden is moving forward to the front yard, in small, enclosed containers, walled areas, etc.  The front garden from last year will be exclusively herbs and medicinals.  And we agreed that the "weeds" in the back garden have won... only to look them all up and see that the weeds that grow there are exclusively ones for coughs, asthma, skin, and a general tonic high in rare vitamins.  They say the medicine you most need finds you.  Point taken.  (We are however, going to park pigs in part of that plot to rid the area of some of the weeds, and to let the piggies be our vitamin intermediary).

Speaking of critters, we have put in for our permit for the pole barn.  We've moved from having a lean-to shape to one with a gabled roof, with windows above the doors (sketch to follow).  The doors will be typical barn-like doors, but with nothing that closes.  It will have 2 bays with significant storage space on the sides, and essentially a 2nd floor for storage.  Colin needs space to move the tools to (we reclaim the porch come spring!) and there will be space on the hill side for the beef calves to have an indoor stall.  And, outside the building, we expect the roof to overhang enough to provide space for firewood.  Above the garage space, there will be space for storage but also space for hay.  We'll need hay for the calf/calves (one?  two? what about loneliness in small cows?) for next winter.

Beyond all that, the bedroom is almost done, and Aidan will be able to move in maybe next week. This is good, because he will need to be focused and organized in the next few months... not his strongest point.  But he has wrestling and drama and trumpet, and we are putting an emphasis on academics (all electronics other than radio have been removed from his daily life). So he'll need space to himself.

Nan will move upstairs to live with Sagey (isn't it funny?  Her name has morphed into a version of mom's nickname?  The short/long vowel is all that is different).  She wasn't too excited about it at first (Man, can sisters fight!) but they play together so often and with the same stuff, it really is time.  Plus, they are both so independent and strong minded, I think that maybe it is ok for them to learn to live with someone else.

And Milo's crib and dresser will move into the yellow room, with the day bed (for all you guests... and ok, for me when I fall asleep nursing).  I am excited about everyone finally having space that makes sense, and being able to put things away, and organize.  Maybe I can finally unpack all the book boxes.

So there is life here on Wild Nettle Farm as we begin spring, and a new growing season, and another step closer to the life we envisioned as we moved here.