22 May 2011

Dirt and other miracles of nature

Every year I spend many back breaking hours adding composted horse manure, compost from our household, and composted chicken and wood manure to our garden. Today as I labored away, discouraged by the amount of clay and rock still in our garden, I wondered to myself, why I was doing this. I tilled in 100 pounds of sphagnum peat moss in one small row, meant to house carrots, while my boots got sucked down in the wet clay and my back ached from repeatedly lifting the dense clumps of dirt that clung to my pitchfork. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to see a great documentary this evening called, Dirt! The Movie, all about our relationship with the soil and its complicated diverse organisms that sustain us and all life on Earth. If you get the chance, I recommend this film, which grounded me and made the knots in my shoulder seem not quite so bad.

This week we had the opportunity to see all kinds of nature's curiosities such as the baby chipmunks running about, with their eyes still closed, completely unaware of our presence but somehow able to locate, open and eat nuts. How they can do this, when human infants are so helpless for so long, beats me. The chipmunk above was the size of a small mouse.

We were able to rescue this year-old red winged blackbird that had gotten tangled in a net. It had injured its wing trying to rip free of the netting so we housed it for the night so it could rest and watched it fly away the next morning, good as new. I learned first hand how formidable their beaks are and hope to never do battle with one.

Our lilacs, whose blossoms had remained pinched tightly shut until this week, seduced us with their intoxicating fragrance and we finally had to bring some clusters indoors to enjoy. The bees are drunk in love with the lilac bushes this week too, and I can't blame them. They're also busy pollinating our strawberries, which have begun to bear small green berries, teasing us with the promise of a bountiful crop sometime in June.

01 May 2011

William turns two

It's hard to believe that it's been two years since my little guy entered this world with a bang. Most of the time, he is a gentle and kind little boy, who likes to give hugs, say new words, play outside, snuggle with his baby chicks, and arrange and rearrange flowers. But he can also turn into the naughtiest little boy in a flash, running with wild abandon in any direction he pleases, even if that might be out of a store's automatic doors into the street or through a busy airport terminal or out the front door towards the woods in a diaper and bare feet, hardly noticing the prickles in his feet until he is caught.

These extremes define my William's character - eager to make enormous messes,

Yogurt schmogurt.

but equally willing to do hard work that is not asked of him like unloading the clean dish washer or pushing the wheelbarrow full of manure even though the wheel keeps sinking through the mucky meadow.

For his birthday I made his favorite cake, that we call Fairy Tale cake, with layers of white chocolate pudding and white chocolate frosting and added his favorite thing to the top - an airplane.

I guess you could say he liked it.

I guess you could say, he really liked it.

I try to keep the kids' birthdays simple for as long as possible, so we just celebrated with our immediate family and did all of William's favorite things, like eating pasta with homemade marinara sauce and edamame, catching tadpoles from the pond, a bike ride and walk down the road, a ride in the paddleboat, and playing with our new toys.

We catch dozens of tadpoles, newts, and fish in the pond.
William is obsessed with water. He points it out whenever he sees it, and on our walks he must stop at each place there is a stream to admire the flowing water and perhaps toss in a pebble or two. With his boots on, there isn't a puddle he won't stomp in or drain with dozens of trips with his bucket. Before we child proofed the bathroom doors, it was not uncommon to find him standing on a stool at the sink, water running profusely, with his hands in the water.

William's new airplane can go on land or water.
Airplanes and trains are his latest obsession. There's hardly a plane that goes by that he doesn't spot, no matter how tiny. It's a treat to take him to the airport viewing center to watch the planes take off. He feels disappointed by landings though and always wants to know when the airplanes are going to go up, up, up again.

William's favorite toy, was not his basketball hoop as I'd hoped (big sister seems to have taken over that). It is his bubble maker. He and "sis-sis" made bubbles for an hour with great delight after dinner.

Uh, oh! A hole in this bucket means no more carrying tadpoles around in it.
William wears his new "2" shirt from Mommy, with an airplane embroidered on one side and the number two on the other. The fabric is leftover Katie Jump Rope by Denyse Schmidt.

It's hard to believe that my baby's baby days have already passed us by but he's such a fun little person to have around, we love his big boy character and sense of humor. Next time you see him, challenge him to a funny face contest, I dare you!