Inventory

Our seeds are spread across the dining room table. Packets and packets of garden seeds — some still good, some long past their prime, but I am loath to let them go. Because, where would they go if not into the rich soil beneath my bare feet? I could feed them to the grumpy winter chickens. I could dump them in the frozen woods. I could let my children play with them and plant them in pots and get their hands all dirty and see what might come up.

I ask a farmer friend what he does with his leftover seeds. “Do you save them?” I ask.

“Some,” he answers. “But not the alliums.”

“Oh yes,” I say. “We learned that the hard way. Last year hardly half of our onions came up. The seeds were old. Too old.”

It just begs the question: how long does a seed last? An onion seed. A carrot seed. The seed of an idea in my soul. How long can I keep it in the dark?

Little Getaway

The highlight of our little getaway for Wallace was watching the cranes outside our hotel room window!

The tropical greenhouse at the Frederik Meijer Gardens is like balm for the January soul. We could have stayed inside all day.

My dream mini greenhouse!

The only thing they would have changed about visiting the conservatory? Being allowed to explore in bare feet!

I rummaged around in a box of hand-me-downs, looking for a swim suit for Wallace just before we walked out the door to leave for Grand Rapids. When Jeff looked in my bag, he asked, “What is this smurf costume doing in here?”

Calendula Lip Balm

We’ve gathered around for our annual Calendula Salve making this afternoon!

This year we’re making lip balm with petals we’ve been soaking in olive oil since the end of the summer. The magic of summer sunshine preserved as golden goodness pulls us all into the kitchen. Each year the girls do more and more on their own. I find myself mostly watching and soaking up the wonder of this messy, rich process.

“I salute you!
There is nothing I can give you which you have not; but there is much, that, while I cannot give, you can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today.
Take Heaven.
No peace lies in the future, which is not hidden in this present instant.
Take Peace.
The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet, within our reach, is joy.
Take Joy.
And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you, with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.”

— Fra Giovanni, AD 1513 (Take Joy! The Tasha Tudor Christmas Book)

Dark

To Know the Dark

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

“The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry,” Counterpoint, 1998: p. 68.

I find myself revisiting this very Novemberish poem. Going dark.

Making Space

A meditative morning
cleaning out a garden bed,
getting ready for garlic.

Pulling out the old growth
to make room.
Letting in the light,
just before the rain.

There is so much color here —
so much joy in the seeding and growing,
planting and transplanting.
Watching, waiting, watering.
Flourishing, nourishing.

But there is sorrow, too.
Sorrow in letting it all go,
pulling it out —
even as I know that I must let it go
to make space for what is to come.

Autumn Leaves

The first autumn leaves come inside
in baskets and pockets.
Handfuls of chestnuts, shiny brown and gold.
The smell of beeswax fills the house
as rain falls outside
and a chubby toddler brings fists-full
of dirty carrots, fresh from the garden,
inside to wash off
up at the sink.