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Witch caves.  Fairy houses.  Piles of acorns, rocks, and juniper berries.  Gousty treasures.

The girls are barefoot for the first time this year.  And those toes have grown so much since the last time I saw them outside, kissed by the earth.


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Amabel is having her piano lesson.  Ellen, Wallace, and I are outside the white farmhouse, waiting.  I am noticing the evening light.  Ellen is noticing Wallace touching the grass with his curious fingers.  Grass!  A new discovery.  She tells him about it.  He is a captive audience.  He adores her.


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We recently got a laminator.  I am not a bit fan of excess plastic — but this is something I have been wanting for a while to preserve special pieces of the girls’ artwork and writing.  Unfortunately, Ellen has now started to measure the worth of each drawing she makes by asking me if I want to laminate it.  And if I don’t want to laminate it, well then it must not be very good.  This, of course, is not what I intended.

It seems like she has been asking, “Mama, do you like this?” more often than ever before.  Maybe because she is witnessing my complete adoration for Wallace every day?  Maybe what she is really asking is, “Mama, do you like me?”  I try to avoid excess, empty praise (good job! that’s great! I love it!) with my girls.  I try to describe what I see and notice details when admiring their projects.  But Ellen has me a bit stumped lately with her hunger for praise.  What can I provide that will truly nourish her?

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I had a lovely walk this afternoon with my Dad and Nancy the Irish terrier (Harry’s twin sister).  We’ve had a cold and snowy April so far, but it looks like our spring is just around the corner.  Nancy is ready with her spring haircut and boundless energy.  I’ve decided to call the groomer tomorrow and see about giving Harry a fresh look!

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I am starting our first batch of seeds on the kitchen table.  This is my favorite spring ritual.  My hands get all dirty and I get all happy, filling trays with the promise of life and nourishment.  Today I start three varieties of onion; four types of kale; two types of broccoli; brussels sprouts; cauliflower; and romanesco.  100 soil blocks so far.  Jeffrey helps me set up the heat mats.  I water everything gently and cover the trays with plastic — making a mini greenhouse for germination.  Now we’ll watch these babies grow!

(Thank you, Amabel, for taking this photo of me!)

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I love to watch these two.  Amabel is particularly tender with Wallace.  And she often says how much she loves him, which is significant coming from her because she is not overly expressive with her emotions.  One day last week she said, “You have to really live with a baby to know how wonderful he is.”

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Did you listen to the most recent episode of on being with Krista Tippett?  I wanted to transcribe nearly everything David Whyte said into my journal.  What a poet.

“Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet / confinement of your aloneness / to learn / anything or anyone / that does not bring you alive / is too small for you.”

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I am still reading Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner.  The main character, Susan Burlington Ward, is an educated lady — and artist — from the East Coast who follows her engineering husband out west.  It is the late 1800s and Oliver Ward oversees a series of mining projects that take them to remote places — very far from what Mrs. Ward considers “civilized” country.  At one point in the story, when they are living in poverty according to Susan’s standards, the family has a cook, a farmhand, and a governess for the children.  And even at the beginning of her marriage, when they are just starting out — Susan has a housekeeper and a nanny for her baby.

My, how times have changed, Mrs. Ward.  How do we manage to do it all?  Consider modern-day parents: the cook, the housekeeper, the nanny, the governess, the gardener — all rolled into one (or two of us).  Would Mrs. Ward consider this civilized?!  I’m quite sure she would not approve of my housekeeping.  And yet, I find so very much to relate to in dear Susan and her struggles in making a life and raising a family.  Good literature is like that for me: providing perspective and nourishment for my soul.

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Grandmommy made us a pot of soup.  Jeffrey brought it upstairs for dinner.  Ellen said, “This is a good night.  We are all together and we are happy.”

Wallace seemed to think so too.  He had the most adoring looks for his papa.