transformation

Around these parts, it’s hard not to witness the seasonal transformation as it’s all around us — blossoms popping out of the ground, the sky bigger and brighter, asparagus and dandelion on the table. And the songbirds! Though the sun set more than an hour ago, the mockingbird carries on singing outside my open window, and will likely do so all night long.

I too am undergoing transformation as the last two weeks of art classes are before me, graduation in just a little over a month, and then I find myself staring a wide, at times daunting, blank canvas where a career, vocation, lifework should be. Sure, I have plans, ideas, some freelance work and craft shows lined up. But there is still so much uncertain that I at times secretly long for the more predictable transformation that a change of season brings. Where the snowdrops bloom before the crocuses, which appear before the daffodils that arrive just before the lilac flowers, and the tulips, peonies, and hydrangea….

At the same time, I itch to be done with my final projects. It’s difficult to find them engaging when there’s so much more on my mind. Because as uncertain the future, I also know that it’s time for me to move on, that my work at the school is (almost) finished, and that, like the young birds pecking their ways out of the pale blue and speckled shells, also to enter an unknown world, I must go. Despite whatever doubt arises in the moment, I am ready.

With a major life change on the horizon and a birthday celebrated this past week, the time is right for contemplation. I am grateful these days have coincided with Easter and its themes of loves and miracles and rebirth. They’ve helped to fill in the pauses, the negative spaces of my thoughts, as has the singing mockingbird — our sentinel of spring and warm, bright days ahead.

 

winter days

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Winter days on Baldy Hill can be cold and bleak, for sure. The sky has been predominately gray since we started the new year, and we’ve awoken to snow and ice and frigid temperatures most mornings. But we’ve done our best to keep warm, the wood stove our endearing friend, and make the most of these quiet, reflective days.

Our Ameraucanas (and occasionally an Orpington) are still producing enough eggs to keep us happy, so I’ve regularly been making vegetable tarts — this one was made with garlic scapes, broccoli, red pepper and the last of the NYE’s goat cheese. A steady stream of birds have been visiting our feeders as well. Among the usual visitors — chickadees, cardinals, downy woodpeckers, tufted titmice, sparrows, bluejays, starlings, nuthatches, a Carolina wren — a stunning pair of red-bellied woodpeckers stop by several times a day. I’ve heard that they can often dominate feeders, but this pair shows none of that behavior, patiently waiting their turn at the suet.

Although we’ve yet to reach winter’s midpoint, the light has begun to shift toward spring. We note the difference where the sun rays hit the dining table in the morning. My trip to bring in the chickens in the evening is fifteen minutes later than a couple weeks ago. Winter break from school ends next week and the spring semester begins. The seed catalogs pile up and garden planning begins.

But I don’t rush the days toward the next season. In fact, during this holiday, I have consciously slowed down, limited distractions, and focused on one task at a time. I’m not stressing about what doesn’t get done today, as I’m learning to be more realistic about what I can do in a single set of waking hours. I know I’m not alone in coming to the realization that doing, doing, doing all the time is no good, not to mention that doing less often miraculously results in producing more — more fulfilling, happier days. 🙂

advent calendar traditions

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The first advent calendars I remember were the ones we received along with our family’s World Book “Christmas in [insert country name]…” series back in the seventies and early eighties. The annual subscription included a handcrafted tree ornament, the beautifully photographed book detailing that year’s featured country’s Christmas traditions, and a paper advent calendar, which my brother and sister and I took turns opening its windows (with our mother refereeing). For small-town kids in an era before mass international travel, those books and ornaments, not to mention the advent calendar, were a highlight of our holiday season and absolutely treasured. In fact, the ornaments still adorn our trees almost forty years later.

And I still think advent calendars are a fun holiday tradition, so this year I picked up one for me and another for James (at 99cents a piece, it was an affordable splurge!). I also am participating in a Kindness Advent Calendar event (details can be found here) because our world can always do with extra kindness, especially at this time of year. If you haven’t a traditional advent calendar this year (or even if you do), why not join the kindness chain!

Happy Friday!

summer light

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This week at the ball game we were treated to this magnificent sky (before the storm arrived and sent the game into a 2-hour rain delay, but the team still won and that’s all that matters 🙂 ). The dark thick clouds with the light forcing its way through proved an apt metaphor for thoughts I had been mulling over for these past few months. Has that ever happened to you? When a problem presents and seems unsolvable but then suddenly the solution, which had been there all the while, reveals itself, just as a bright light leading you along though the murky dark? The waves of relief of finding the path again are as if being baptized by the rain as the storm moves away. And that’s where I find myself this first day of July — joyful, full of gratitude, satisfied, and ready to celebrate all that this holiday weekend represents: independence, freedom, good eating, the pursuit of happiness.

june musings

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This is our fifth spring on Baldy Hill, and we find ourselves delighting in more of nature’s beauty with each passing day. And I am grateful to those who came before us, those who planted the irises, the peonies, the Sweet William. I wonder about those people, how they came to select the blooms they did, and their places in the garden. And I’m happy to see our own marks being left now, the lavender, the gooseberry and blueberry bushes, my grandmother’s lily. Although we have no plans to leave Baldy Hill anytime soon, I hope that whoever inherits our space appreciates what we leave behind. For I believe that one of the most important things we can do in this world is leave a positive mark on our land, no matter how short or long our stay. Enjoy this beautiful month!

july, welcome!

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June was a full and, at times, a challenging month for us, with many lessons and reminders of how little of life we have control of, except for our reactions to it, of course. And during these days when patience and resolve may be tested, expressing gratitude for all of the abundant gifts we have, including the amazing good fortune to live in such gorgeous surroundings, becomes a priority and way in which I center myself. So as we welcome July with open arms, here is a list of June moments that helped to buoy us over some bumpy waves.

  • Chocolate ice cream cones for Sunday dinner
  • Watching our six chicks grow and their personalities begin to emerge and develop, so fun!
  • Picnics in the garden
  • Leni’s first summer with us — she continues to be the happiest dog and the most determined spreader of joy I’ve ever met. Recently, she was given upstairs privileges and surprised no one with her special leapfrogging technique with which she launches herself up the entire flight with only three touches — boundless joy, I tell you! ❤

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  • The start of berry season! I mean, really, can you ever get enough fresh berries, and the pies, tarts, and jam that follow 🙂
  • The BBC Radio 4 WWI serial Home Front — LOVE it!
  • A good closet sort out (and as a bonus, I made some extra $$ sending a big bag off to Twice)
  • Baby birds everywhere! In addition to the chicks, we’ve delighted in watching the downy and red-bellied woodpeckers bring their youngsters to our feeders, as well as the house wren family that has holed up in one of the bird houses for the season. The Northern mockingbirds, bird birds, red-winged black birds, robins, and catbirds are all busy with their latest offspring, too — it’s been a very successful breeding season for sure 🙂

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  • Rainy days, which equal baking days when my husband is home 🙂
  • Weddings, weddings, weddings!
  • Summer breezes that keep my office mobiles a’spinning
  • The light, all that extra daylight that makes me often lose track of time, especially when I’m in the middle of doing something I love. May you keep shining down on us, and as the great Walt says, let the shadows fall behind us

Happy July!

new ground

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Like in much of the Northeast, the winter’s snow is receding quickly and we find ourselves amidst a resplendent mud season. It’s our fourth thaw here at Baldy Hill and I’m no longer bothered by the muck or the dogs returning from our walks with filthy bellies from the wet dirt they’ve kicked up along the way. I’ve learned mud season is a bridge we need to cross before we can start spring’s much anticipated digging and planting.

But while the ground here is swampy, the skies have been mostly blue, discolored only by an occasional cloud and the thousands of snow geese that have been streaming overhead this past week. The light has shifted just enough indoors to show off the winter’s overlooked dust bunnies, so our spring cleaning has begun in earnest as well. And in my spare time, I have been exploring some programs that may allow me to go back to school and receive retraining, allowing me to break new ground as well in a different career path.

For now, though, there are still seeds to plant and a bit more waiting time, so we must be patient, no matter how greatly we look forward to the return of color, life, our spring.