First Day of Gardening

A Day in the Life, Farm Book

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It’s been one of those warm snaps where we get a few crocuses opening up and spring suddenly doesn’t feel so far away; although we’re sure to have a few more freezes before spring really kicks off, Adventure Time found us thinking about all the food and flowers we hope will pop up sometime soon. Edie picked out a “garden girl” outfit. I expected to stick Rory in the backpack for a little rest, but he beat me to it and took a nice long nap in the nest.

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Since we weren’t sure how long he would sleep, and we didn’t have much of a plan, and it’s too early to plant seeds outside, we decided to prep one of the front beds. After swinging through the yard for tools, we scooped up some poops from the bunnies to fertilize our chosen garden bed.

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Bunny poop is great for gardens, especially because it doesn’t “burn” plants fresh the way other manures can. We used Edie’s rake, Kevin’s welder, and my trowel to clear out some gnarly dandelions and grass patches that had taken hold since last summer.  As we worked, we remembered our last real garden day together when I was so pregnant, I couldn’t reach to seed the middle of the beds. The stuff we planted that day hadn’t done so well. In fact we have yet to experience much real success gardening.

For a long time I have always assumed that I would eventually be well enough resourced and coordinated to take my kids on more or less daily excursions, as I was required to do with my preschool class in Seattle. The benefits for  kids in a class setting was fairly obvious; children get exposed to the world outside the classroom and have a chance to work out their energy in ways besides destroying things. Supervising children on a playground is actually easier in a way than keeping them off each other in the classroom.

However as I’ve delved deeper into Unschooling literature over the last few years, I’ve questioned and shed a lot of the expectations I was accustomed to as an early childhood educator, and I’m not sure why it took me so much longer to question the daily bustle goal. I guess I was just so bad at actually accomplishing it that my ideal image was never really challenged. The season we entered as a family when we came home with the new baby has been one of energy and initiative for me- thankfully, since life got so neglected and out of control during my pregnancy that I am still digging out of that hole.  Today for instance I was putting away laundry and realized that a stack of clothes for sorting had been there very nearly a year. Now, I’m able to keep on top of routine chores, chip away at backed up projects, and even make daily time for something a little exploratory and unusual.

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A big part of the excuse for not “getting out of the house more” has been our long term car-free lifestyle, which has vascillated between voluntary and less voluntary. Sometimes I’ve been super proactive about bussing and walking, and we have always had generous friends and family offering use of their vehicles when we really needed it. This year is a new season for us; I expect to buy a car sometime in the next month. So, with ready access to wheels, will we finally be able to sign up for all the activities and plan all the outings I’ve looked forward to all this time?

Yes and no. I am relieved to look forward to a summer that we can run out to a beach or forest whenever we like, for foraging or just to explore the natural beauty of our exquisite region. But I think for me the daily outing has gone the way of the phonics coloring page: it’s fine to pass the time and sometimes may be just the practice a child needs to clarify a specific concept, but there’s really no obligation to schedule it every day.

Instead I’ve been focusing on the value of sinking in to home life and the comfort of rhythm. I’ve been considering how to isolate what is healthy and lovely about the busy activities we chose, and find a way to include that in our home life. How can we suck the marrow out of life without giving up all of our peaceful days?

For now, we’re settling in, sinking roots, condensing. We’re gardening, painting, cleaning out, and reading up. We’re asking friends over and sticking close to home. It’s a good place to be in the soft dead of winter. Perhaps another season, it will be time again the expand, unfold, and bloom.

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