Weekends can be sort of tricky things around here. As most of us know, kids thrive on routine and we have that in spades during the weekdays. Finally half way into the school year, our weekdays flow through like a well oiled machine. The weekends however, sometimes trip us up. With no set schedule to follow we often falter through the first part. Should we stay at home and tackle the to-do list? Should we go out and adventure into the world? Should we relax into watching some movies? Usually there is a birthday party or some other event thrown into mix. Often our weekends become a jumble of all those things, which can be hard on the kiddos and us. The strange mixture of being bored, doing chores and then being hyped up by outside entertainment. I, and an assortment of kids, often go in one direction while Scott, and the rest of the kids, go in another. Sometimes the weekdays and their structure feel more relaxing.
And then other weekends just flow long at a very relaxed yet productive rate. This past long weekend was just that. The weather has been bitter cold every single morning for weeks now. We awaken to frozen ground but then the mid day offers the taste of spring. The littlest one followed her big brothers out into the field, I of course followed her. Flower picking turned into laying down into the flowers, “Lay down mama! Lay down!” While I soaked in the scenery and watched the bees buzz around me, the littlest and her brothers turned their attention to a found frog and a new habitat for him.
An hour later, when excitement of playing with ‘Hoppity’ died down we came inside and made a Honey Cake from Apples for Jam, a favorite cookbook around here. A very pretty cake with a pretty delicious addition of rosemary and cinnamon.
If only every weekend could be like last!
Over the holidays we took a rather spontaneous trip down to Disneyland. We are not normally the theme park sort of people, but Disneyland can be so fun. And it was. But after four days at the Happiest Place on Earth, we returned to what is our Happiest Place on Earth. Immediately our two boys (three, if you count the oldest boy), who were visuably overwhelmed with all the commercialism, came home and make a beeline for the outside. I didn’t see them all day long as they immersed themselves in nature.
Without prompting our eight year old ripped out his summer garden. The cherry tomato that fed us to Christmas, the peppers, the basil that he picked out at the nursery in spring was all now frost killed. He hauled them out, weeded and raked the soil flat. He was the first to have his garden ready for spring planting.
Scott and I quickly followed suit. I had begun late last summer to sheet mulch a strip of flower bed that I hang my laundry by and that we walk by frequently. At one time, I can tell, it had structure and a solid plan in place, but nature quickly intervened and turned it into a wild weed patch. Fresh full of inspiration from reading Gaia’s Garden (so good!), I began sheet mulching little by little as we came across cardboard boxes. The boys and I lay a rock border to give it a defined edge and laid mulch along the path to suppress the weeds.
Now with a clean palette my mind has been going this way and that designing my new bed. Some days I think it should be for cut flowers. Other days I am sketching out plans for a medicinal herb garden for my lotions and salves, other times I want to make it a native garden for the bees. Maybe it should be planted with flowers and plants for natural dying. What do you think? What would you plant if given a clean palette?
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We didn’t plant a winter garden this year. Not a thing. Not even an attempt at our usual broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower. In fact we didn’t even so much as put a kale seedling in the ground. With having our summer garden go in late and our harvest extending much later than usual, we were wiped out. To tell you the truth, when we’ve wimped out on our winter garden it’s come with a lot of guilt. Where we live, we really can garden almost all year round, so the pressure is on to take advantage of that.
However I believe there is great benefits to a period of hibernation, both for the soil and for the soul. This year we didn’t allow ourselves to feel guilty. We had done enough last spring and summer, it is time to rest. And I have much suspicions that having the garden, and the gardeners, rest for the winter is going to create an extraordinary spring garden. Because now that the holidays are good and done with we are all chomping at the big to get going again.
This past weekend we were all out there in force. Weed whacking, trench digging (for new irrigation), hand weeding, mulch moving, rock hauling. All of us eager workers. The seed catalogs are worn with near constant browsing. The garden books are showing up more frequently on the coffee table. While we aren’t ready to fully give up our winter garden hibernation, spring is looking oh so sweet to us.