Category Archives: Musings

July since 2009

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I have been blogging since 2009. Life has changed a wee bit in 6 years. But also, not really.

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This is the first year we ever had a garden. A few tomatoes and a mammoth cabbage that we had no clue what to do with. (We’ve actually refrained from growing cabbage two years in a row because we get so many with not enough consumption.)

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Then in 2010, I was pregnant and still gardening. 2010 was the first year we harvested honey. It was quite the harvest.honeyfromlucinda uncappinghoney2 ramona2

It was the year before the blog was inundated with pictures of my child, so the cat still got a starring shot every now and then.

Then in September of 2010, we moved onto a boat. And stopped gardening for a year. I don’t remember missing it, but I was very busy caring for a new baby. And living on a boat is incredibly time consuming. Everything takes longer. I posted recently about living slower, but then I realized I don’t have to spend time pumping out the grey water tank, or boiling water to wash dishes. Bathing doesn’t have to be planned because it takes up a good chunk of the day. Slower living is definitely boat living. Below are pictures for July 2011.

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Then in November 2011, we moved back onto land and slowly began reclaiming a garden from 8 foot high blackberry bushes.

img_1653Above is 2012. And the little one grew and grew.

img_1474 img_1682I had started my Doula work, so everything for Brie was babies.

ontoabirthsmallThis picture is of me, after a birth. I’ve been awake for 50 hours in this picture. I remember the birth well.

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Then July 2013, Brie is growing! And after a lot of hard work, my body is back to it’s original size. This is the year I recognize our life again. Our activities are similar to what we are doing today, and I am wearing all the same clothes.

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IMG_1512And now we are almost caught up.

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Gabrielle looks familiar to me in these pictures. The garden, again in July, dominates most of our home activities. We are processing something most of the time. And usually our life is mostly outside.

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Above is 2014. 5 years later, we are still showing off our tomatoes.

I am so grateful for this space. There have been times when I’ve thought, “Why do I do this blog?” But I’m glad for the record of writing it. I’m glad to see the pictures, read the stories. And I’m incredibly thankful for the worlds that it has connected me to.

For whatever part of the journey you have joined us, thank you to you too.

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.

Jam all the fruits!

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I really really wanted to u-pick strawberries this year. But there are no u-picks for strawberries on Pender Island, which meant I had to get to Victoria with my child, and allot enough time to pick. The only time this happened, happened to be the very last day u-pick strawberries were open. The berries were wizened and sparce but we went, dang it! And we got enough to make the strawberry jam I’d been craving.IMG_8576

But when it came to u-pick raspberries, I didn’t have the same staunch determination. I bought a flat of berries from a local farm and was done with it.IMG_8578 IMG_8581

My car smelled amazing on the ferry ride home.IMG_8586

I may be a hippy in many things, but with this batch of jam, I used regular pectin and lots of sugar. IMG_8588

In a day, I made raspberry, strawberry and blueberry jam. It was like a jam factory at my house and it smelled delicious. On the way home from picking the strawberries, we stopped at a grocery store to pick up pectin and more canning jars, an elderly lady behind us in the line asked me if I was actually going to make jam. She lamented that none of her grandchildren were interested in jam-making and the “old ways of doing things.” She was amazed that young people were still doing this. I told her that I thought all the “young” jam-makers I knew live on Pender Island.

She said she was 92 and her husband was 101. And I wondered quietly how much knowledge we were losing about the “old ways.” And then on the heels of that thought, I wondered how the heck I got here! Why was I making jam with my kid on a tiny island instead of buying it from the store? What attracts me to the old ways of doing things?

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By the way, the jam turned out wonderfully.

 

As November slips away…

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As November slips away from us and we emerge ourselves completely in all things Christmas, we savoured the last moments of Autumn.

The winter sun is blinding in our house. The sun stays low all day and it shows off all the streaks on the window. Pervasive golden light so intense that I find Gabrielle at the foot of the stairs, hiding in her shadow spot away from the low piercing sun that hurts her eyes. We aren’t complaining about it, it’s just the shape of the house and the path of the sun across the field.

Gabrielle has become quite a serious bonsai tree-keeper. She waters them daily, she mists them, and sings to them and trims any failing leaves. It’s a serious business. Between the bonsais and her worm farm, she is fully employed. It is her work, as she reminds us often.

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The bees are flying. In the low sun, mid afternoon, the ground warms up enough for the bees to scoot outside for a quick pee. Then they duck back inside to their warm clump and go back to knitting each other socks. I always miss the bees a little through the Winter. I fret over them and hope they are surviving through the frosts. Sometimes I press my ear against the outside of the box, hoping to hear a soft hum to let me know that they are still there. That they are still telling each other stories of flowers, and spring and thick honey that they can soon gather. I think of you, Bees, hibernating in your little home while we do the same in ours.

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We gear up for Advent, and Brie’s birthday and Christmas, and we practice our numbers and letters to wile away the winter.

Like the bees, we tell each other stories of flowers and Spring and thick honey, while we knit each other socks.

Living with the Seasons: A Nip of Autumn

I really love how our life revolves around the seasons. In August, we extract honey and process tomatoes. In September, we bring in the squash. We stack firewood. I watch my bees bringing in pollen in the spring, and capping their honey for the winter. Living with the seasons could be one of my favourite parts about living on Pender Island. The seasons feel “close” here. Maybe it’s because the windows are thin. Maybe it is living more rurally. But whatever it is, I feel the seasons here.

I’ve often wondered if I were blind-folded, and placed in a season, if I could recognize it from the smells. Right now, the sun is rising later. When I wake up early in the morning to run, I beat the sunrise. There is a nip to the air and now I’m reaching for my down vest. And there is a dry crumbling smell as the leaves start to die on the branches and the eager ones are already under-foot and crackling.

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And there is something satisfying in all this. Something wholesome and natural. And then it warms my heart even more when Gabrielle sniffs the air, and sees the leaves, and stacks the wood and plucks the apples off the tree and she says thoughtfully, “Autumn must be coming soon. I’m falling over more often.”

Logic of a three year old. It cannot be beat.