Category Archives: Gardening

These Moments

I had a moment this morning where I jumped out of bed at 6am, after my farmer husband trundled off to work, and I thought “The Tomatoes!!” We had left the trays of dehydrating tomatoes on the back deck, drying out all night. Now they are tomato flakes, after I scraped their sorry brittle remains off of the trays. Still edible. Still useful for soup and sauces on those cold winter nights. But not what we intended.

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The internet is a funny place where we get to show the best of our little lives. I don’t have a picture of me scraping crusty tomato flakes off a tray at 6am, with fluffy hair and bleary eyes. We show a slice of our lives here, and though I try to remain true to facts, it is only a slice.IMG_8623

While much of our summer days are spent at the beach, going for hikes, and staring in awe at our lush gardens. (Haha!) The other part of our summer is spent processing the food we try to squirrel away for the winter. This is not always very exciting. And sometimes it’s backbreaking. In the photo above, I’m cleaning and stripping the garlic, getting it ready to hang. When it has dried out a little, I try to cram it into a corner of my already-cluttered counter. Growing food to keep for the whole year is wonderful. Storing it for that whole year while you use little bits at a time, is annoying.IMG_8841 IMG_8843

Gabrielle helps me separate the seeds from the pods. Her tiny fingers are expert at this.IMG_8845 IMG_8969

I often wonder what she will remember of this. What impression she will have of her life here. Will she remember it fondly and with joy? Or will she remember all the chores her mama made her do? Will she run off to the city just so she doesn’t have to weed another garden or knead another hunk of dough?IMG_8976 IMG_9083

We choose to live these little lives here. Simple. Small. And hope that in these days piling together, we are doing her right. And maybe she will choose a different path, but trying to give her a wholesome start, maybe that’s we can offer. Maybe these chores, these smells, this life, is what will always remind her of home.

The Time it takes to Slow Down

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(photo curtesy of Hans Tammemagi)

A friend got bees this year. Her very first hive and the wax is clean and fresh. The bees are buzzing and enjoying her copious flowers. But this way to get honey, it is much slower than simply buying it at the store.IMG_8637

This is our year supply of garlic. We planted it from cloves we saved from last year. We put the cloves in the ground in October and finally, after 9 months of gestating in the ground, it is ready to be hung, dried and eaten. But how much faster is it to go to the store and buy a couple heads of garlic at a time? And garlic is one of the easiest things we grow. It still requires watering, mulching, weeding, and then when it is finally time to harvest, we clean it and hang it. Time. It takes time to add quality to our life.

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We had a day off together recently, which happens rarely because when Marc is working I am home and then on weekends we do a switch. After packing up our backpacks, we went on a hike and found a geocache. We explored. Even this, with a four year old, takes time. We stop and talk about the trees we see, the bugs we see, the slugs. We examine the dam a beaver built, and imagine we are ducks enjoying the copious duckweed. We provide offerings to the trolls who must live under the bridge. All this exploring is incredibly valuable, but again, it takes time to slow down.IMG_8827

Our skies were overcast for several days because of the forest fires raging near us. The lighting was eerie but when the rain came, it made us that much more grateful.IMG_8829 IMG_8831

This photo above is us showing Gabrielle how to make pasta. When pasta is so cheap from the store, it seems counter-intuitive to make it. But the difference in quality, the difference in flavour, is vast. IMG_20150617_151905

And some garlic scape pesto to go with it, well that just sounds divine.IMG_20150621_211225 IMG_20150621_211257 IMG_20150625_104346

Gabrielle lives in a world where she expects the seeds she stuffs into the soil to pop up. She sits down at the dinner table and expects us to know where the food on her plate comes from. Her life is slow and she is often told that now we must wait. IMG_20150627_063917 IMG_20150629_110047 IMG_20150629_141044 IMG_20150706_133953 IMG_20150708_104354 IMG_20150708_114109

Above is the very last of our onions. They just barely lasted until we pulled up our crop this year. I breathed a sign of relief and cut the final onions into a salsa fresca with our tomatoes that are just ripening on the vine.

The Journey Begins: Homeschooling

The cherry blossoms were out a month early because our Winter was so mild. (Unlike our friends on the East Coast, suffering through blizzards.) But spring has been abominably wet. So our garden has been a gluey sticky sopping mud puddle. We have been eager to get in there, rotor-till the beds after all the pitchforking I’ve done, but it is just too muddy.

Then a friend scared me last week. She said, “I think everything is a month early this year!” My face dropped. That means my garden should already be planted. I employed the same techniques as a woman in labour. I breathed through my panic and then ran out to the garden with pea seeds to hastily shove into the driest part of the soil.

And the birds ate them.

Don’t worry. I won’t give up that easily.

bird brieflowergirl brieflowerpicker currantblossom dandelions mapleblossom wheelbarrowThe bees are doing well though. I lost one hive and I’m not sure if it was the Queen who failed late in the Winter but the hive was very small so I wasn’t especially surprised to open it up and find a few dead bees.

Gabrielle has starting “homeschooling” in earnest. She is a very earnest child. She colours pictures and writes letters all day. We have been taking a country that she picks on the spinning globe, and writing down three things notable about the country, usually the climate, a landmark and an interesting animal. We draw the flag and attempt to draw the animals. It isn’t her drawing skills that are lacking so much as mine! We started reading chapter books a couple months ago to Gabrielle. She is enthralled. She loves listening to these stories where the characters flesh out more than in a picture book. So far she has eaten up The Trumpet of the Swan (E.B. White,) Mouse and the Motorcycle (Beverly Cleary,) and we are now reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Daddy and Ribsy with me. Her joy in reading and stories is palpable and very exciting for both Marc and I. Daddy and Brie do science experience together and she seems to have a propensity for math.

At my mother’s recommendation, I read “Homeschooling for Excellence” and it was a fabulous book for anyone looking at homeschooling and the philosophies surrounding it.

And the babies keep coming. I am teaching prenatal classes in Victoria now with a full schedule. I’m enjoying my work immensely and because it only takes me away on the weekend (but you know, babies come whenever,) I get to spend the majority of my days at home. I find my work/life balance working right now but I am ever-aware that it is a balancing act. So I check in often with my family.

And that is us in the Spring! Have a very happy day!

In the Air

IMG_6776Spring is in the air! Let’s dance about it! Finally, Winter is receding and the flowers are sprouting! Sing a song, do a twirl! Hurrah for Spring!

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This of course, does not mean that we are in short-sleeve shirts every day. The garden is still quite swampy and we are still layering in hoods and toques, but not always.IMG_6826 IMG_6831

Spring also means Nettle Season. Stinging Nettles. It’s such a hippy thing so my hippy rating goes way up as I show you these pictures. We pick nettles, then we make pesto, stew, soup, tea, smoothies. You get the idea. And then all us Pender hippies take pictures of them and instagram it. I can’t even. For real.IMG_6833 IMG_6834 IMG_6843 IMG_6850 IMG_6852 IMG_6854 IMG_6860 IMG_6864 IMG_6868WWhen I get super busy and go to a bunch of births in a row, Gabrielle and Marc entertain themselves by woodworking. Now added to Brie’s ever-growing vocabulary are words like “tongue and groove” and “bevel” as well as “braxton hicks contractions” and “posterior baby.”

 

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And then I came home after teaching a class in Victoria all weekend and she had written me her first love note. I melted. I swooned. And I want to frame it forever. Below is the other side of the card. It has a sun, a moon, mountains, a rainbow, flowers and the sea. What more could a girl want?

The answer is nothing. I am complete.IMG_7019

Here on Pender Island…

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I feel like I should be saying, “Meanwhile down at the ranch…” But I want to impart small gift-wrapped presents that Pender Island has given me this week. And maybe these gifts were available to me last week but my eyes were open this week. Open to Pender Island. Oh Pender, I see you now!IMG_3554 IMG_3559

I encourage my child to do chores around the house. Call it what you will, but she’s three and a half, as she reminds me every day, and she is learning responsibility. Like cleaning windows. (Above) and carrying her own snacks and toys to the beach. And when my fellow mom-friend asks what’s in her backpack, I tell her that Gabrielle is carrying her own snacks now, she tells me that she makes her kid do that all the time. Pender Moms. I love them.

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When I eat at the sushi place on Pender, they put my name at the top of my bill. When I order pizza at the local pub, the bartender asks about pregnancy complications that her friend is suffering. When I vote on Pender and my address is wrong, the lady at the ballot box says to me, “Why does it say that address? You’ve never lived there! I know exactly where you live. I’ll get that changed right away.”

Oh Pender. You have my heart.

IMG_3568 IMG_3571 IMG_3585 IMG_3590On Pender, we celebrate an exciting adventure when we are down on the beach. And this adorable little peach is standing for the first time, with an empty *ahem* beer bottle in her hand.

Put another delicata squash on the barbecue! Tess is standing!

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And when the frost comes, she insists we go out and “Be in it, Mom! And Taste it!”

IMG_3641 IMG_3646 IMG_3648 IMG_3652 IMG_3655 IMG_3656 IMG_3657 IMG_3658My poor little garden is all put to sleep now. And so are the bees, in their tight little winter clumps where I imagine them all knitting each other socks, just to keep warm.

We have kale, leeks and carrots in the garden still and we are eating up our preserves now. This is rather the sad time of the year when it comes to the garden. The wood stove glows gloriously hot and we get to play in all our knitted accessories.

This is Pendering in November. Happy Winter!