Friday, June 10, 2011
It has been 8 years now since my brother-in-law Scott passed away. This is always an interesting day - recalling the details, the weeks that followed, the service, the amazing sense of community as people rallied around Samantha and the boys. Today, I drove back from Anchorage, and with four uninterrupted hours to think, my thoughts turned to the one kernel of wisdom that resonated from that tragedy. I remember having the shocking realization a few weeks after Scott died that most of what we do makes absolutely no impact on our sense of fulfillment and the few things that do make us truly happy are often the last things we do.
Scott was not like that. He somehow had figure out that he was going to have to be the one to take life and run with it. He did so many fantastic things with his life, lived so many wonderful stories, entertained, enjoyed, indulged... we all should be so lucky. I remember vowing to live my life more that way. Then I got caught up in the details and forgot for a few years. More recently, I think I'm doing a better job remembering. When I look at my life, there are frustrations, but it cannot be said that I am living an unfulfilled life. It is fantastic to come home after a night away, roll into the farm, do the rounds, look at all that is going on, things growing, life living, my children thriving, learning, laughing. I am so incredibly lucky and grateful.
And there is more I can do to slow down and enjoy what is right now. I have a friend who has had some dramatic stuff going on, the kind of stuff that makes me think about how much more we can appreciate things like health, laughter, food. I plan to fill totes with camping gear this weekend so that the next sunny day when I have the kids, we can throw those totes in the car and zoom off into the day, destination unknown, and have an adventure. There are friends I want to see, and people I'd love to have over for dinner. I'd like to finish another painting, and learn a new song. But my life is pretty rich and I do feel like I'm living it large, loud - I feel pretty alive.
Yesterday I bid a hasty goodbye to Nick and Joanne, who had been living with my family and I for a couple weeks. I suck at goodbyes but I hope they know how much I appreciated their efforts as well as the lovely way they meshed with my family. Sure, I'm looking forward to cooking in slightly smaller quantities for a few days, but honestly, it's been an awesome couple weeks.
As I said in the last post, Nick and Joanne, along with their friend Mel, who left a few days before them, arrived at the height of garden season. There is just no busier time than May. Not even harvesting or putting up or weeding the piles of chickweed compare to the chaos of putting in an ever-expanding garden. When they arrived, the dry erase board was full of huge, ominous projects like "build ends, beds and plant hoop house two". They tackled virtually the entire list and then some. Nick doubled the size of my woodshed and built a beautiful little chicken coop for my laying hens, while sick, and entirely out of junk I had laying around. A-Maze-Ing.
But like I said, even more important was how wonderful they were with the kids. Matt has been gone for a long time, and having Nick and Joanne and Mel and then my longtime friend Judy in the house for the past couple weeks has been a wonderful distraction. It's hard to feel lonely when there are so many people wandering around to take you worm hunting, shoot at targets with your bb gun, listen to your stories and even on a couple of occasions put you to bed at night so mom could have a much needed evening of adulthood. Matt gets back tomorrow night, and that leg of the marathon that is summer comes to a close. There will be more.
Years ago, I used to work in youth hostels, traveled around a lot and even after I settled in Anchorage, there were a lot of travelers coming and going. But somewhere along the line I lost track of that group. With Wwoofers, that is all coming back. Not just for me, but for the kids, too. It's not as good as taking them to far-flung cultures, but it's as close as I'm going to get right now, and it's pretty good. Plus, for the past two weeks, I've done very very few dishes. I LOVE that.
Garden update: Most of the garden is up now - little tiny sprouts unfurling their very first leaves. Everything is under row covers, which is generally a good idea, but this year, it has been so often cold, it seems even more appropriate. A few days ago there was ice - not frost, ice - on the water in Théa's wagon. Cold. Another banner year to have hoop houses. It's much, much warmer in there. I'm really close to harvesting lettuce for the first time. Peas are up inside and out. It's time to spend an hour weeding. The zucchini and squash are flowering. The beans are leaving out - and something, probably slugs, has nibbled its way through. Must investigate. Also need to learn more about plant nutrition through the fruiting process. So much to learn.
Chicken update - first batch of chickipoppers is about two weeks away from being harvested. Second batch is ready to move out. Another batch is ready to move in. Then another. YIKES. Got to get the laying hens moved out into their new coop so the teenagers can move into the main part of the house. My goodness. Need woodchips, too. But all in good time. That's the thing. It all comes together if you let it.