Often these days, the news–and social media–make me feel like a powerless child on an endless car ride through hell, crowded into the middle of the backseat with quarrelsome, nasty little brats fighting on either side of me (“I know you are, but what am I?”), scenes of suffering flashing by the windows, while the car careens all over the road, the adults up front bickering over directions–the driver a nearsighted incompetent, who never took driver training, constantly checking his hair in the rear-view mirror, while driving along a cliff’s edge, with fewer and fewer guardrails, an increasingly bumpy road, and ominous thunderheads ahead.
I alternate between outrage, disbelief, profound cynicism, anger, and, occasional glimmers of hope. It’s probably just that I’m getting old, but I feel as if we fight the same battles over and over, only now things are taking on weird and frightening new twists, and it makes me weary.
But we are fortunate personally, because the reality of our day-to-day life has stayed much the same, despite the craziness in the larger world. In May, we reached our five-year mark of living on our beautiful hillside.
We have worked hard these years, front-loading our projects, knowing that our fitness and stamina would be declining and that it would takes years for some things to reach fruition.
At this five-year point, we are really starting to reap the benefits of that early planning and work. Lazy composter that I am, I finally have a working rotation of compost bins providing much of what I need for the gardens. George has firewood drying according to species, so that it will be properly seasoned when it’s time to burn.
Our slow-to-mature crops are bearing now.
We have rhubarb, asparagus, blueberries, blackberries, honeyberries, elderberries, cherries, and peaches, and are only a year away from pears and apples.
We’re still waiting on the hazelnuts, figs, and northern kiwi—but are getting closer. My dye gardens are mature—madder (for red dye) should grow for three years before harvesting the roots.
I have planted madder beds every year for the past three years, so will be able to harvest it annually from now on. The bees are thriving. We are hoping for honey this year.
We are getting close to our vision for this place—but that vision is always evolving, so will always be a work in progress.
Our spring weather was almost as crazy as the outside world.
We had two very late snowstorms.
After the snow, the temperatures soared and new growth exploded. Then we had a hard frost on June 1.
Now, it changes day-to-day, hot, cold, dry, wet, fog—all over the place.
We lost a lot of big branches in one of the late storms, mostly where bittersweet had grown up into the trees and became weighted down with the heavy spring snow. So, George has been cutting down the bittersweet and opening up areas around many of the old wild apples to allow more light and air circulation.
The bluebirds were peaceful this year—thank goodness—successfully raising a brood.
And the swallows are back in their usual box, babies born, but we haven’t seen their hungry heads peeking out yet.
We had a robin build a lovely, mud-lined nest in our sauna wood box.
We were afraid that it would be within reach of some nestling-eating animals,
but she appears to have raised her brood to fledglings.
A phoebe is nesting under the eaves of a dormer window
and the house finches decided to nest in a hanging basket on our porch.
I didn’t know the nest was there until I used the hose to water it a few days ago and a very agitated bird flew out.
As usual, George is working on building projects,
the lower orchard,
the lawns, and maintaining the trails, while helping me finally get the paths in the vegetable garden covered with enough chips to keep the weeds under control.
I’ve been gardening like mad, spinning for summer dyeing, doing a little weaving, sewing clothes from my woven fabric,
and continuing to rescue old wheels.
We have really missed visits from our kids, grandkids, and friends. On the other hand, the gardens have never looked better and I’m finding time to blog.
I started another blog as a way to document my antique spinning wheels and textile tools and have been enjoying digging into research for it. If you’re interested, the link is here: exquisitemachinery. I also finally got started on processing last year’s flax crop and hope to have enough after this batch to spin and weave fabric for a shirt.
All in all, we are hanging in here quite happily, keeping our home fires burning, and hoping the world doesn’t melt down in the coming months.
It feels as if our country may be reaching several tipping points and anything could happen.
One thing that is certain, however, is that our votes have never been more important. Make your voices heard through voting—at every level, local to national. It’s the most effective way to turn collective grief, anger, outrage, and approval into tangible change.
And continue to find solace and joy where you can.
Time keeps ticking by.