Spring Approaches Summer (June 11)

Here I sit, looking out over the sunny water…

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…listening to the sounds of the gently rolling waves, the calls of the seabirds, and the chattering of 3 children digging 1 large hole in the sand…

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…reflecting on the fact that over a month has passed since I last sat down to write…Over a month of springtime, and here we are, fast approaching summer…The spring season has continued to be an alternation, a week of warm sun followed by a week of cool rain, the coming summer held back by the reminder that this is, after all, a northern land…And the Lord has gently and perfectly mirrored the rhythm of the weather with the rhythm of our work…A cool, misty week for cleaning up the mobile home; a warm, sunny week for planting in the farm; a cool, misty week for hauling loads of garbage and taking the kids’ annual grade-level testing; a warm, sunny week for more planting in the farm…No matter the weather, there is alway something to do, and we find each thing coming to its proper pausing-point just as the weather shifts and a new activity comes to the forefront. And everywhere, there is the beauty of the season unfolding around us!

This was the old mobile home, right off the front corner of the house. It had been abandoned for many years, even for many years before the house was abandoned 6 years ago, but had been left standing with all of its old contents still inside, to which had been added assorted bags of things to be “stored”. It was not only old and abandoned, but falling apart, with holes in various areas of the walls and flooring, and one section of the roof caved in. It looked to me like a monumental effort, and one that had been waiting for some warm and dry spring days to make it more manageable…

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As it turned out, one week of focused attention made a significant difference! We began by tearing off siding and pulling out what was left of the insulation, having tarped over the hole in the roof to give some of that soggy trash a chance to dry out. As always, we pulled out everything and sorted it into trash, recycling, metal, and burn piles.

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As we worked our way down, we opened up new walls, and then we could reach even more garbage, lol!

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By the end of the week, and several trips to the dump, all that was left was a frame, a huge burn pile, and a huge metal pile!

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It was hard work, and often gross work, pulling out rain-soaked piles of the lifetime accumulations of a household: clothes, books, magazines, dishes, medicines, toiletries, christmas decorations, paperwork, rugs, and piles-and-piles-and-piles of porcupine-poo…

I was super-grateful that this week was cool and misty, never quite raining, but always a little breezy and on the edge of a sprinkle…And I thought how very-much-more-unpleasant this task would be during a sunny week, on warm days full of aromas and bugs, yikes!

Some things inspired laughter, like an issue of “Your Healthy Home” buried in the porcupine-poo…

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…and some things inspired delight, like when we accidentally uncovered a mouse nest with 5 sleeping babies, and happily watched their mama relocate them all to a safe place!

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Most things were just old and moldy and waterlogged and gross…Asher kept asking me, “Mom, what’s wrong?” until he got used to seeing my “mobile-home-face”, as I gingerly pulled out soggy garbage and stuffed it into bags.

Some things were interesting, though too dilapidated to actually make use of, like an old spy-glass, a machine that you used to make your own records, scuba gear, a hand-held harpoon for fishing…

One thing, a baseball bat, was set aside for later use on the final stages of the mobile home demolition…

Most things were simply loaded into the trailer, bound for the dump, bringing our tally of tons-of-garbage up near 10.

But one thing, one magical thing, was inside of a box, inside of a bag, inside of a filing cabinet, so that it was actually clean, and the kids were allowed to use it…Sparklers!

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What a fun way to wrap up a week of demolition and disposal!

After a week or so of moving dirt and planting seeds in the farm, we returned to the mobile home to finish the job. We brought out the baseball bat and took turns knocking out the 2 x 4 framing until we were able to pull the whole thing down! The future holds more dismantling and more trailer-fulls of sheet metal and plywood to the dump, but I would say that the worst is behind us on this project!

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Sometime during our farming activities, around the middle of May, black fly season arrived. We didn’t recognize it at first. We just kept saying, “These gnats are pests! And I think they bite, too…They definitely keep trying to get in my nose and mouth.” And then, after a couple of days under the pestilence of gnats, I said to Joe, “Can you check the difference between gnats and black flies? Maybe they’re the same. I hope they’re the same, because I really don’t like to think that we still have a pestilence of black flies to come after this pestilence of gnats!” Sure enough, the two are one, and there is only the one pestilence to endure! They are a pain, to be sure, swarming around your head any moment you stand still, even crawling into sleeves and pants legs to deliver their bites, which swell overnight into hard, red, sore, itchy bumps that last for a couple of weeks…But there are a couple of things I like about them! One is that a breeze drives them away instantly, and a brisk walk outdistances them. Also, as soon as the sun dips over the horizon, they’re gone for the day. And, when they get into the house, they don’t chase you anymore, but are irrestistibly drawn to the windows where they can be mopped up efficiently. The silly things don’t even pay any attention to the fate of the flies being demolished right next to them, but patiently await their turn with the wet-wipe! They say they’re active for about a month until they’re gone for the year, and also that this year is quite severe, so it’s nice to know that we’re almost through with them, and that this was kind of a worst-case scenario.

And after several warm-spells of work on the farm, we’re basically finished planting! Each of those little stakes along the rows and mounds names something that we’ve planted, from lettuces and greens and cabbages and broccoli, to beets and radishes and turnips and rutabagas and parsnips, to corn and beans and peas, to onions and garlic and leeks and scallions, to tomatoes and celery and peppers and basil and dill, to a herb garden full of chamomile and thyme and chicory and parsley and mint and cilantro and nasturtiums and chives and wintergreen and sorrel and sweet woodruff, to wildflowers and sunflowers…So very many things to try out this year, all snugly in the ground with prayers, and seedlings in various stages of sprouting!

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The spring days have many more benefits than draw-backs…The bees are buzzing in the trees, quite literally! The apple trees are heavy with their fragrant white blossoms, promising future apples…

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…and the hum of the bees is a constant background to outdoor activities, much more pleasant than the busy-street-drone or neighbor’s-lawnmower-drone that I’ve more often experienced…The birds are forever singing, and each new song sends us scrambling for binoculars and our Audubon app, trying to figure out who’s who! Some of our little songbirds, like the White-throated Sparrow and the Winter Wren, are frequently heard and almost never seen, while the Red-breasted Nuthatches and Black-capped Chickadees remain friendly and familiar companions. The Broad-winged Hawk often soars by overhead with its piercing cry. And some, like the Yellow-rumped Warbler, the Magnolia Warbler…

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…the Blackburnian Warbler, and the Northern Parula, seem to spend just a little time here on their way to somewhere else. Some friends are frequent visitors…The feeders attract Chipping Sparrows and Nuthatches and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (so far a juvenile male and two females)…

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…as well as one pesky little fluffy rascal…

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A diseased poplar tree draws a Yellow-breasted Sapsucker…

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…and our window frame is attracting the nesting efforts of a pair of Eastern Phoebes! They build a mud nest, and I’m still not sure they’re really going to do it, but they’ve been working at it on-and-off for three days now. It’s pretty amazing to watch one come in under the eaves, and hover right at the window to dab mud onto the window frame!

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There’s no better music than the song of the birds with the buzzing of the bees, and it makes the farmwork days super-pleasant until the bugs drive us inside behind the comfort of screened windows!

The springtime forest is gracefully carpeted in the pale green and sparkling white of Starflower, Dwarf Dogwood, and Wild Lily-of-the-Valley…

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…and the promise of future blueberries hangs from low branches…

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Springtime bouquets from serviceberry and apple branch make their way inside to keep me company in the kitchen…

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…even as we begin to enjoy the first proceeds from our garden, radishes and greens that started inside in our farm table!

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And I am still continually surprised as the kids discover bugs that I have never seen, heard of, or imagined before!

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We enjoyed a beautiful super-low-tide outing to Acadia, on the Schoodic Peninsula side, with much splashing and turning-over-of-rocks…

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There’s something very grounding about watching my wee-children explore vast landscapes, and I always enjoy seeing them, and capturing them, as the tiny bright dots that they are in their surroundings! As I walk along, I feel about medium-sized, and sometimes I feel kind of vast as I look closely at all the tiny pebbles and critters around my feet…but then I look up and I see my kiddos ranging far and wide along a tidal river under a stretch of forest and an expansive sky, and I remember how tiny we all are in this wonderfully wide world!

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Out at the point of the peninsula, with the tide coming back in, we enjoyed the view of the open ocean…

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The surf was crashing, and you could sit and feel like you were right in the middle of the sea…

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But still, the little mussel nurseries were tucked snug away in crevices undisturbed by the noisy waves…

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…and the barnacles calmly wisped the micronutrients out of the plentiful waters. It was mesmerizing!

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We made our way down to a quieter cobble-beach-cove where, like good little shorebirds, they built a nest of rocks…

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And then on the way out of the park, we stopped for a meal at The Pickled Wrinkle, which I had always looked at and said, “What in the world?” It was sunny but slightly chilly out on the deck, as we browsed the menu and tried to figure out where the bizarre name came from!

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Turns out to be a nice little restaurant, named after a historical staple of the lobster villagers’ diet. Wrinkles are sea snails that often get pulled up in the traps with the lobster. Whenever caught, the fishermen would set them aside and pickle them, storing them as an excellent source of nutrition in case of a hard year. Our family was divided, 2 for and 3 against, on the issue of yumminess :), but the rest of the food was very good, and inspired Asher to want to return the following weekend for a birthday meal!

On another day, we happened to cross the Pleasant River near our home at low-tide, and enjoyed the experience of walking right out into the middle of the river!

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For his birthday, Asher had some very specific plans – that kid knows what he wants! His day began, as always, with a rousing “Happy Birthday” chorus, after which, per request, I served up fried eggs and bacon and biscuits for breakfast! Next, Asher was ready to blow out 10 candles on 10 birthday cookies, and open his presents, which he received with great surprise and joy.

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His next request was a day of bird-watching at Acadia, culminating in birthday lunch at the Pickled Wrinkle, which he had so-greatly-enjoyed the week before, and so we set off on a lovely forest and shoreline wander!

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After a late and delicious lunch, Asher was ready for his next treat – a couple of games of pool with Daddy!

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And then we were homeward bound, for the next activity on Asher’s birthday schedule – playtime at our stream! Armed with a couple of sifters, the small stream was a wonderland of pebbles and water spiders…

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…and frogs!

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What a wonderful way to turn 10!

And today, in summer fashion, it’s a Sunday at the beach! Though still a little chilly in the breeze, and a little chilly in the water, it is still decidedly a glorious summer day!

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Good-bye mud season, hello sand season!

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