September 11, 2013
I’m borrowing a little inspiration from Kate’s regular Pictured/Not Picture blog segment for my post today.
1. Everly and Arlo in the little garden next to the house. Winnie the cow and all of the chickens have picked over this little bit of land to the point that only a few carrots and some greens remain. Twice we watched Nick and Kate shoo Winnie away from the last remaining head of purple cabbage during one of her post-milking front yard grazing sessions. Everly and Arlo took it upon themselves to water the last of the vegetables with squirt bottles and cups of water.
2. Hawkeye. The goofiest, sweetest dog I’ve met in a long time. I grew up with German Shepherds and can’t help but to smile every time I think that little Leland Ashe will get the chance to do the same.
3. Our first foggy morning, as we left the yurt in search of hot coffee and indoor plumbing.
4. No proper farm is without a watering hole. Theirs is crystal clear with a rock ledge that juts out to the center. Perfect for diving off of into the deep middle or for just sitting and letting your feet soak. Brent went to pray on the rocks every morning and we all went for a dip nearly every day.
5. The farmhouse mantle.
6. It is a treasure to watch one of my dearest friends bloom in the season of motherhood. Kate has taken to the business of waking often, nursing constantly, shushing and bouncing and falling in love with Leland as if it were the thing she was made for. She has always been good at growing and caring for living things - undoubtedly, this boy will be her greatest venture yet.
6. A little chicken that Everly named Jeffrey.
7. Everly took it upon herself to give every unnamed animal on the farm a proper name. These two little goats, given the temporary names of whitey and browny (for obvious reasons) by Kate and Nick were renamed Hannah and James by our dove.
8. Kate, milking their goat, Chicadee, while wearing Leland in the moby wrap. I sat quietly in the corner, watching as her hands worked and she quietly rocked back and forth to keep her sleeping baby happy. Only seven weeks in, and she and Nick are already starting to find the balance in parenting and farming.
9. Firewood split for cold winter ahead.
10. An afternoon rain that found us as we sat on the rock ledge of the pond.
11. We were a little premature in our apple picking. It’s early in the season and they were still a little too bitter to enjoy thoroughly.
12. The farmhouse from the far pasture.
September 10, 2013
Longest Acres Farm - Yurt Loving
I have so much to share from our visit to Vermont last week, but today I just wanted to share a few photos of the gorgeous yurt we stayed in on Nick and Kate’s property. It’s just a dozen yards from their house, and was such a beautiful place to fall asleep each night.
We ran a power cord from the main house so that we could use the kid’s sound machine but otherwise it was completely unplugged. I loved listening to the rain fall on the canvas roof each night and to wake up, completely warm under our wool blankets despite the crisp, dampness of the morning air. The brightness of the morning would always wake me early, and I’d lay there staring up at the trees through the circular dome in the ceiling.
For all it’s glory, we didn’t spend much time in the yurt - there was too much to see and do on the farm and so most of our time there was to briefly change clothes, grab a coat, or to sink exhausted, into bed at night.
For all the years I have known her, and in all of the different places they have lived, Kate has always held such a wonderful talent for making a place feel warm, welcoming and full of thoughtful touches. The yurt on their farm is no exception.
I snapped these photos while Everly napped one afternoon. I was finishing up the last chapters of a book while she slept, and I looked up for a moment and just wanted to soak in the peacefulness of the afternoon. It’s hard to hold anything but joy against your heart when your surroundings look like this.
September 8, 2013
(Trying a Smartie candy for the first time)
Everly: hmmm. These taste like something…
Me: Oh yeah? Like what?
Everly: Like… (thinking) Like how a cucumber’s armpit would taste.
September 5, 2013
Oh, #longestacresfarm, how sad we are to say goodbye. What an amazing week we have spent in Vermont. Kate and Nick have found a beautiful slice of heaven here. Until next year!
September 2, 2013
I was making biscuits this morning when Wildflowers by Tom Petty came on the radio. The same song we danced to at our wedding. Everly and Arlo giggled at us while we danced around with unbrushed hair and flour covered hands. Dovie asked to take a picture of us. She’s at an age where she likes to tell secrets and a few days ago, out of the blue, she leaned in close and told me that watching mama and daddy dance makes her so happy. Knowing that, we are happy to oblige.
September 1, 2013
I had the luxurious experience of finishing a book at sunrise. It’s one I started months ago, upon my husband’s recommendation, but struggled to find the time to finish. Here, I have turned page after page. Brent took the children to the main house for Cheerios over fresh milk and so I laid in bed and savored the last few pages of By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coehlo. This week I am finding time to finish a lot of things I’ve previously put down with the excuse of being too busy. On this Sunday, I am thankful for the gift of a slow morning.
August 29, 2013
Pit stop in Newark airport on our way to Vermont for the week. Our kids are at an age that air travel has become a fantastic adventure.
August 26, 2013
He was a good fish.
Our beta fish, Monty, died on Friday night. We’d found him floating awkwardly sideways and gulping slowly after returning from dinner. We checked on him after the children had gone to bed to find him, still, on the bottom of the tank.
When Monty first arrived in our house, I was less than thrilled. Brent and Everly had been to the pet story to buy dog food and came home holding a small container with a red and blue fish inside. “We have two children, two dogs, and a cat - I think we have more than enough little creatures that need our attention right now,” I said to him. But Brent stood his ground and said he had wanted to do something special for Everly, “besides, he said… beta fish are easy.”
He was right. Monty was the model fish. He required little more than a pinch of food daily, a fresh tank of water every so often, and a little visit through the glass. Over the course of the past year, Brent grew to be especially fond of him, stopping back by the pet store for new features for his tank, including plastic plants and even a pirate ship for Monty to hide inside. We were charmed to discover he had his own little personality and would greet us happily every day.
Saturday morning, we broke the news to the kids.
Everly asked, “He died like Grandma Doris? He went to heaven?”
"Yes, baby, like Grandma Doris."
"He’s not coming back?"
"No. Sadly not."
We dug a hole in the flower bed and gathered around it in the warm morning sun. Arlo stood for a moment watching as his sister held the small, dead fish in her hand before wandering off to play. Everly, on the hand, surprised me with her interest in the process. She placed Monty in the bottom of the dirt hole.
"He was a good fish" Brent said, "And we will miss him in our family."
"I wish he was still alive," Everly said.
We picked a rose off a neighboring bush and she put it in the hole next to him. Everly had carried a blue marble around in her hand all morning and I asked her if she wanted to add that too. She shook her head no at first, holding the marble tightly in her hand, but after a minute, she knelt down and tossed it in, “to keep him company,” she said.
We moved a flowering plant from another part of our yard and put it in the hole. Arlo helped Brent water the plant before turning back to his play. I assumed that our day would go on as planned from there, interrupted only briefly with a small goodbye to our fish friend. But about five minutes later, as we tinkered about in our yard, I turned to find Everly standing with her back against our front door. She was stick straight, still and sad looking. As I walked towards her, I saw her eyes welling with tears. By the time I reached her, she was weeping. “I didn’t want to say goodbye to Monty, mama,” she said. “I want him to still be alive with us.”
I pulled her into my lap and we rocked in the rocking chair for a long time. I ran my fingers through her hot, tangled hair and tried to comfort her as she cried. I told her it was okay to be sad. That saying goodbye is never easy. I was honestly shocked to see her grieving. I had assumed, based on her age, that she would have mimicked our initial sadness but would have moved past the moment once it was gone.
Late afternoon on Saturday, the kids were in the yard and we were preparing the car to leave. Everly stood again by the flower bed, hovering over the new plant that marked Monty’s grave. She began to cry again. “I am so sad,” she said. She asked us what it was like for a fish in heaven and we told her that while we weren’t really sure, we were certain that Monty was safe and well cared for.
Monty was a fish. The smallest of creatures. But he also was a very real part of this family. We have felt the ache of imbalance in our household this weekend, every time we walk by his empty tank. His presence was more impactful than I gave him credit for.
We will miss Monty and I will take from him an important lesson. Grief is not an emotion reserved only for the mature. It can be felt even in the smallest of hearts.
August 14, 2013
(I found Everly standing in the hallway one night after she was supposed to be asleep. Lately, she has been prone to getting out of bed after we put her down. To discourage this, we made a rule that every time she gets up, we close her door a few inches. She likes her door wide open, so this usually works to keep her in bed.)
Me: Everly, what are you doing in the hallway?
Everly: I just got up to see what you were doing.
Me: Go get back in bed. And since you chose to get up after bedtime, unfortunately your door is going to have to close a few inches.
Everly: Awwwwww! I told my legs this wasn’t a good idea but they wouldn’t listen!
Michelle Lyerly asked me some months ago if I would be interested in participating in a photography series that she was creating. Her project, called Dream Catcher, involved spending an afternoon taking the portrait of women she felt had a story to tell. The experience would involve her asking me a lot of questions about my passions, fears, ands dreams while she took my photo.
She threw questions my way as we explored some of the beautiful fields around her house outside Raleigh. Some of her inquiries made me laugh, others required me to sit with her words for awhile before I answered. What started off as an experience between two women who didn’t know much about each other, finished with a new friendship formed and vulnerabilities and hopes shared. It wasn’t cheesy or overly dramatic, just warm and honest.
I’m honored that Michelle thought me worthy of her project. She’s a really talented photographer, but even more so, a really genuine person. Through her photographs, I was able to see the reflection in my own face of all people and experiences that shape me.