He is always holding sticks.
Here is our “wattle” house in progress — made from poplar tree trimmings, grape vines, and bittersweet vines. Jeffrey dug holes for the poplar trunks and sunk them in the ground about a foot deep. Then we all worked together to weave branches and vines in and out between the poplars, adding more as we are inspired. Our “haus” (as Wallace calls it) has become the perfect place for reading, playing, and popcorn eating!
We’re still debating about how to finish it off. Should we bend the tips of the poplars so that they meet at the top or leave the house open to the sky?
They cut down the orchard. It wasn’t a surprise — but still a shock. This orchard is on the northern edge of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and it could remain in agriculture as long as the owners wanted to maintain it.
Having lost interest in the orchard, the owners sold the land back to the National Park (the girls and I counted 45 rings in a tree stump: well beyond the age of most productive cherry trees) — and so now this land will revert back to wild.
It’s a gift, in a way, because no more pesticides will be sprayed on this land, and many more creatures will come to live here over time. And yet, it’s still a deep shock to see this landscape, that my siblings and I grew up with, changed so dramatically overnight.
My sweet Amie sat on a fallen tree and cried. Wallace watched her, perplexed. I stood close by, feeling swallowed up in the mist around us.
My sister-in-law, Lara, has been painting in an aging orchard this year — a series of works in different sizes and different media — following the landscape over the course of the seasons. Seasons of weather; seasons of motherhood; and seasons of political change. I admire how she has stayed with her subject, looking at it in unexpected ways and sharing both her process and her finished pieces.
Seeing the landscape through her eyes this year has renewed my own interest in the intersection between a cultivated and wild world.
One of the questions I’m living with right now is this:
“Is she being met with enough challenge?”
A wise mother friend suggested to me this week that I may not need to be responsible for bringing the challenge to her; instead, my daughter may actually seek it out.
She has crossed a certain threshold where her own bravery and strength will help her find what she needs to thrive.
We’re walking in the Gousty woods and meadows on a misty, moisty morning in May — when it occurs to me that there is no place I’d rather be.
My brother, the expert morel mushroomer, leads the way.
As soon as the cousins see Grandfather digging in the garden, they surround him with love and curiosity. He is a child magnet.
Asparagus! We planted it three years ago, and harvested our first handful of spears this week.