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?

Pinecones: Close In

Revisiting one of my favorite poems. . .

Start Close In
By David Whyte

Start close in
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way of starting
the conversation.

Start with your own
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something

To find
another’s voice,
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
becomes a
private ear
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don’t follow
someone else’s
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don’t mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take
the second step
or the third
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

(David Whyte, River Flow: New & Selected Poems)

January Homeschool Life

A New Year’s Day hike at Gousty.
This home I so love.
Covered in a blanket of white.

Sitting deep in thought.
Writing at dusk.
Thick snow falling.

Sweet girl.
I pushed her too hard on cross-county skis.
She is nursing a strained tendon.
I must remember to take it slow.
They grow and they become so capable, but still, we must take it slow.

We’re traveling to Italy in our studies this week. Our table is covered with books about Leonardo da Vinci; Jeffrey’s beautiful sketch book from Rome; maps large and small from Florence and Rome to Sienna and Pienza; a beautiful picture book about the island of Sardinia; and amazing images of Italian buildings and works of art. And, well, then I just had to bring out some of those old love letters from Jeffrey’s year abroad 17 years ago!

If you can’t go there in real time . . . play you can!

The sweetest sleep of baby dreams.

Sister’s new old skateboard!

Busy man, up at the sink. Making a flood.

Oh, I love this.
She painting a portrait of herself from a photo I took of her, almost a year ago.

“I’ve never painted myself before,” she said.

And then she took artist liberties to change the way she looks.

Let’s go inside the greenhouse and take off our coats and reach our faces up towards the precious January sunshine!

We have a family of opossums living in a brush pile near our chicken coop. First we saw one. Then two. And then the girls discovered . . . a mama and three babies! They have been making the rounds, gathering compost scraps, chicken food, and birdseed.

Is it time to get a dog???