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Palm Sunday Views

It is a fair weather Holy Week here, a quiet sort of waiting for the burst of life that is Easter.  We have plans for a picnic, like last year, and we'll visit cemeteries, as we have done in previous years.  If Easter is the promise of new life, spending some time with people who have ended this one is fitting, I think.  I'll admit that the world feels especially heavy right now, and I know I'm certainly not alone in that feeling.  I was considering last night how it is that I can show the children that the world is good and beautiful in the midst of this messy world.  I came across this poem again and it is wonderful encouragement.

Palm Sunday

I guess the best thing is to keep moving, to do the the home things and the comforting things.

Bread Cockerel

So, warm milk with cinnamon and honey and bread cockerels on Palm Sunday.

Wheat Grass

Throw a few wheat grains into a dirt-filled manure frisbee and pour on water and hope.

Nature Table

And flowers.  Always flowers.  They just can't help themselves.  They bring every last one home.


I know a lot is made of parents trying to recapture their youth in their children, mainly in the name of sports or social pursuits.  Those, honestly, are not on my radar at all these days.  I suppose parenting, in some cases, is reliving your childhood.  You remember what it was like to feel a loose tooth, or the way the air smelled in Spring.  You recall the excitement over birthdays and the triumph of really being able to do something on your own.  Some like to think that youth is carefree, though I am seeing it is not really that way.  We all have our fears and our awkward feelings that started way back.  There are times that I wish I did not recall or feel so much, but I suppose those things are really assets to me on my way.

Crafting On

Easter is coming and I am more excited than I have been in some time. I guess it is because all the children are old enough to really enjoy the day and because we'll all be together this year. I haven't made much in the way of Easter gifts, but I am pleased with the little I have done. We've planted some wheat, too, and it is growing so quickly! We'll have a wonderful basket of grass on Sunday.

Egg Cards

Here are little egg cards that I made the children.  I did another one for a gift for a friend.  These came from The Children's Year, and they were fairly simple to do.  The brads are easy to find and I just started the hole with a strong needle.  They have little pictures that show in the window as you turn the circle around.


Willow has been busy, herself, with a roll of duct tape, of all things.  No wallets for her, but microphones, cassette tapes, a tape player, and a wall phone.  She also sewed herself a satin skirt over the weekend that should make a nice slip in the years to come, and she made this sweet little Chinese-Japanese meal.


I made these pockets, also from The Children's Year, for the children's closet.  The door is small, so the dimensions are different from the directions.  The pockets are plenty deep, though, and they are well-pleased.  It is fun to make many things in threes, and this quick project was a fun first thing for the new little old Singer that I have named "The Phoenix."

Cyclone Hat

Lastly, knitting. Always knitting. I am in a mood of forcing myself to do it lately, to keep on keeping on when I am sitting down for quiet time or the last hour before bed. That way, my yarn box will grow more empty and we will be well-prepared for the Winters to come. And hey, we always have chilly weather any time of year, if we look hard enough. This is the Cyclone Hat, a kind of test knit of the pattern. I may give it to Mike or I may keep it for myself. It's knit with some really, really old acrylic, from back when they tried to make it act more like wool.  It's soft and plentiful and free, which is all nice.

Now, it's time to craft a cleaner house so that we can do a little visiting this warm Spring evening.  For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams.

The Last Snow

It's going to be in the upper seventies today, but the end of last week was a chilly and wet one.  There was snow in the air on Friday and, sure enough, the high elevations (the highest in our state) were wearing their Winter coats of rime ice and snow once more.  Mike suggested we go to see them Saturday morning, before they began to thaw out.  There was a troop of Boy Scouts unloading at Elk Garden, and it was quite windy there, so we opted to drive on to White Top.

Icy Road

We went until the road was too slippery for my comfort.  The children had never seen the mountain in the snow.  I've only seen it a time or two.  The road is often impassable in the Winter and not worth the hazards.

Coltsfoot in the Snow

The coltsfoot was blooming through the snow, showing the perseverance of non-native invasives.  It will be another month before the natives will bloom.

Spring Snow

The spring was snowy in Spring.  Or something like that.  It was flowing very nicely, so we were thankful.  Most of Virginia is still low on rain, but we have been very blessed since the wildfires.

Snowy Stream

As the stream flowed away from the spring, it picked up quite a bit of water.  It was so nice to hear it flowing, and so pretty to see the snow drifted along it.

In the Woods

Mike and the Big Ones enjoyed playing in the snow in the woods above the road. Laurel and I got a little wet (or a lot wet) in the stream, but our clothes kept us sufficiently warm.  She was more than happy to go back to the car and shed her wet overalls, while I stayed with Willow and Roan.  We took turns throwing crusty snow into the stream, which was really pretty fun.

While some of the snow is probably gone, I bet there's still a good amount left.  We had weeks of warm weather back in the Winter and could still find little bits of snow hiding here and there.  I'm reading an interesting book these days, The Appalachians, that talks extensively about this unique landscape in which we live.  We truly get a taste of all kinds of weather here--both arctic and southern.  I'll have to give my thoughts on it when I finish it.

Nature School :: A Sun Day

If schools have snow days, we have sun days. There is a day every couple weeks (right now) that is just so nice that we can't bear to be inside. The children head out right after breakfast and my to-do list seems monumental, so it's time to call a Sun Day.  Yesterday was supposed to be sunny and warm, but that passed us by, or we just got the edge of the good weather.  All the same, the shorts came out and we spent time in the yard working on our little projects.  Today, the car is getting new brakes and the weather is turning wild and cold--time to stay in and do lessons!

Field of Violets

It's violet time.  So, so many violets.  We could pick all day long and never get done.


We all picked a quart for some violet syrup for sodas.


It's funny to think of violets as being blue, but there it is.
It will all turn pinky-purple when I add some lemon juice.


I got a solid start on my firt hugelkultur bed.  And a tick, but it didn't bite me.
That's what you get moving old wood around.

The Herbalists

We are all so excited lately--all the weeds growing, the "medicines" to make, the seeds waiting, the new treasures we find each day.  Laurel found the first morels yesterday, so we gave them to Carrie.  She was astounded at the violets we have across the street.  She kept offering some to us, but then she saw ours!  We are well-supplied.

I am feeling better about some projects, getting clarity on others--just household and yard things.  I'm going to dismantle an old raised bed that has filled with grass and add it to my mowing routine, along with the old pumpkin patch that now surrounds the apple and fig trees.  The old stone border now makes up the edges of at least one hugelkultur bed, though I have enough giant logs and old wood to make another one.  The leaves and straw that protected the fig trees all Winter will go onto the new beds.  It's nice to be able to begin a project with all the supplies on-site.

Well, breakfast!  Happy Thursday!
Machines to Go

When I started to pack them up to go to the repair shop, it became quite obvious that I am well-supplied with sewing machines.  It's an interesting march through time, from the 40's when treadle power was still an option to the 70's.  We call the oldest one that Roan is touching The Dinosaur.  It was a beast to take out of the box.  My 2010 model is, well, out of commission for the long haul.  I have given up on it and it will sit indefinitely.  It was featured prominently in the doll tutorial of yesteryear, but the computer in it was failing.  I can't clean the fuzz out of that.

Someone asked me if it was really worth it to fix an old machine, as opposed to just buying a new one.  I think the answer is a big "yes."  Metal, mechanical sewing machines are the way to go, as far as I am concerned.  The Wizard will go back to my parents with a clean bill of wiring.  My favorite, for now, is the 1973 Fashion Mate, but I may really come to love the Portable (it is cartoonish in its size and lightness!) now that I have a power cord for it.  I was able to pick one up at the shop for $20 less than eBay!  We're expecting some rain over the next few days, so I'm hoping to read the manual and get it going.  Nice thing, too, is that I can use it in the house where it is warm!

Crafting On

Well, the order of the day (after school and the like) is a trip to the repair shop.  It's time to fix my 1973 Singer and ask some questions about why sparks flew from the Wizard last night when I tried to plug it in.  All that Spring sewing is going to be on the back burner for a bit, I guess.  I'll admit that I am a little disappointed at all these sewing issues (which started in December), but that's what happens when you use things--they need work to keep on going.

Portable Singer

And then there's this little beauty--the Singer 221-1 Portable Sewing Machine.  All she needs is a power cord with the pedal, which I can easily get from eBay and we will be ready to go!  This machine has a ruffle foot, of all things! Here's the children's machine, as well. ;-)  I kind of wish my were hand-cranked, too.  I guess my 1929 Singer is still good.  I could bring her out of retirement. . .

The Girls' Hats

Here's some hand sewing that went well!  Willow made this matching hat for Virginia yesterday afternoon, making up her own pattern with some direction from me.  I helped with the bow on the little felt hat and both girls are well-pleased.  She'd saved her money and purchased this bride's hat at the local antique store (after pining for it the appropriate amount of time).  I think we are calling this the new Anne of Green Gables costume.

In Caps Tee

I guess I could take the sewing machine woes as a sign that knitting is the job for me right now, along with some Easter crafting.  These needles need only my hands to keep them going (and now I'm a little nervous about that!)  Here's Willow's In Caps Tee, which turned out well.  This was a fast knit that didn't take too much yarn at all.  I even have some left over for a pair of mittens.  Maybe I should get on that.  I've started a ravelry queue, so I guess this is the time to pick something and go with it.

For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams.

On the Pond

In the Easter garden,
Gentle waters flow.
Birds are singing, winging, singing.
Buds their new life show.

~ Wynstones :: Spring

Knitted Ducks

Willow and I made these sweet little ducks from The Children's Year over the weekend.  I made the mama duck, of course, and I helped her stuff hers.  These may be my favorite of the knitted animals we've made, though Whiskers may tie with them.  In a similar mood, Willow named her duck Feathers.  Since they're so simple, I'll share the pattern here.

CO 20 sts and knit 24 ridges (a ridge for each 2 knit rows, so 48 rows) for the mama duck.  Bind off.  Fold in half, with the rows running parallel, and sew up, leaving the end open.  Stuff, sew up the end and make some stitches to create a tail.  CO 12 sts for the head and work 12 ridges.  Bind off and sew up similarly, pulling ther yarn to gather the end.  Stuff, and sew up the end, and then sew it onto the body.  Make a little felt bill and sew that on.  The young duck is worked in the same way.  CO 10 sts for the body and work 12 ridges.  CO 5 sts for the head and work 6 ridges.

April Now

It's quiet this morning, with everyone still asleep.  I'm not sure if it frosted last night, but it was close.  The blueberries are tucked under sheets, but I wonder how the big cherry tree at my grandmother's will fare.  This is an uncertain time of year, isn't it?  I guess all seasons have their uncertainties, but Spring seems to have the bulk of them.  The natural world wants to burst forth with new life and Winter wants to keep hold of things just a bit longer.  I think I feel that way, too.

April Nature TableThings have felt a little scattered lately, honestly, and I have been hoping for the chance to get back on track.  I guess a to-do list is in order to help me prioritize, along with closer adherence to our usual rhythms.  It is easy to let things slip this time of year.  So much seems pressing, and everything feels full of possibility.  We've spent the weekend helping with an attic project over at the Roland Estate, trying to beat the heat in the months to come.  All the same, there has been plenty to do here at home, so I'm struggling a little with balance.

I'm trying to keep hold of the little things that tie the days together, like our bedtime routine and our school work, along with ample quiet time.  I always dreaded "nap time" as a child.  It meant three or so hours of silence alone, being an only child.  For us, it is a time to listen to audio stories in our respective posts in the living room.  After that, we work on focused activities while Laurel sleeps.  It is a time we look forward to each day.  Willow isn't herself without it, which is a wonderful confirmation of the value of peace and rest in a busy home with young children.

*** By now, several hours have passed and there was breakfast and dishes and sewing up the sweetest little knitted duck.  I've sent everyone off for a picnic at an old fire tower.  It sounded fun, to be out in the bright sunshine enjoying the national forest, but I need some of my own quiet time.  I think it will help to ease my scatter-brained feeling lately.  Really, it might just be biting off more than I can chew.  Happy Sunday!

Nature School :: Spring by the Lake

It's the season of tiny white flowers, the first of the Spring ephemerals.  Some places in town and out in the country, Spring beauties cover the ground.  It is always such a joy to see them, ever since I first learned about them and saw them up at Elk Garden.  It makes me wonder, with things being ahead of schedule, when they will start to bloom up in the High Country.  Anyway, we went out to Hungry Mother Lake yesterday and this is what we saw.

Spring Beauties

This was the grass by the creek, full of flowers, and I felt a little funny walking on it.

On the hill

The woods looked quiet, as you can see, but they weren't.

Rue Anemone

Rue anemone is awake among the leaves.


Hepatica was blooming, too, the sharp-lobed variety.

Wood Anemone

And down the hill, wood anemones.  These seem to have a prominent place in Elsa Beskow books, along with Springtime in Noisy Village.

In the Laurel

Away from the hillside, the children wandered into the rhododendrons, locally called a laurel thicket.
It's a big, nearly impassable tangle for us grown folks.


A particularly open spot yielded a surprise--a geocache!
We'd never seen one, so this was a neat experience.
We've just watched about letterboxing on Dartmoor on Edwardian Farm.


And, of course, there was plenty of free time while I played some music.  There is so much to be done at home these days, that it really helps me to get away from all the things I "need" to do and be in a place where it is easier to focus on the present.  And with that, it's time for me to get a move on!

Another Spring Bouquet

The days are full of time outside right now.  After breakfast to before bedtime, folks are heading outside.  We're in for most meals, school time, and quiet time.  The weather really is perfect right now, the kind I always dream of for Autumn.   Rain comes every few days, it's not too hot, but you can also cool off easily.  Just so nice.

While the trees are mostly bare, all the Spring bulbs are putting on a show.  Tulips are starting to bloom and grape hyacinths are delivered to me with great regularity.  I have two vases overflowing right now, along with a full size hyacinth that Laurel picked (eek!).  It all smells so sweet.  It is a little strange to have all this blossoming life right now, several weeks ahead of what we are accustomed to, but I am trying to embrace it.  What else is there to do?

BouquetEveryone is sleeping a full eleven hours each night, and Laurel is still napping.  All the fresh air (and mud and sand) is doing wonders, I guess.  Willow has some sniffles, but they may be due to her nine year change.  I remember well the many complaints she had during the six year change, and I think this may be quite a lot like that.  A cold just a month after having had the last one is record-breaking for this at-home family.  We've got kefir and various other things to help us along, so it will pass and we'll feel thankful for the chance to slow down.

We got a new floor in the kitchen this week, wood-grain vinyl.  There's hardwood underneath all that, but we'll save that job for a time when there aren't galloping children in the house.  We'll probably be ready for a full-scale refinishing of all the floors then.  It is so nice to have a new floor--one without gouge marks and floral prints (as much as I love them on fabrics).  In this way, the kitchen got a good Spring clean, since it is such a hard-working space.  Mike put up a new mailbox, too, and I've got a ceiling fan waiting to go into the kitchen. I am hopeful it will make the Summer canning much more comfortable.

There is a lot to be hopeful about these days, with Spring in the air and all the waiting garden seeds.  I'm planning on building a hugelkultur bed or two with some of the rotten wood, leaves, straw and rocks we have.  While the stars have yet to align for us to have chickens (and I'm getting stage fright), this project seems to be a good fit.  I have all the supplies ready and waiting.  If any of you have done this, let me know.  I'd love to hear.  Carrie is working on her own beds, too.

School planning has been happening, as well, the third grade year writing itself out in my mind.  Gardening and fiber crafts are surely going to be at the heart of Willow's turn.  In that way, I suppose we'll get an early start.  It's going to be new terrain, in many ways, though some things will be revisited in a new way.  Enki covers some language arts skills that I see will come up in the materials from Christopherus next year.  I do like the idea of each child having their own experience of each grade.  Roan, I think, will do more building in grade three, though time will tell.

Well, I think folks are waking up, so it's time to mix up breakfast!

Crafting On :: Short Sleeves

Short-sleeved sweaters are the new thing around here.  And it's handy for when you just want to get done with things and start on some sewing projects.  The days are in the sixties (or seventies!) and the nights are not too cold.  I think the parkas can get a wash and be put away for real this time (I check 15-day forecasts).  I guess you could call it a spell of perfect weather--neither too hot nor too cold, windows open all day.

Greenwood Sweater

Here's Roan's Greenwood Sweater, as we'll call it.  I made some changes--no garter edging on the bottom, short sleeves.  3x1 rib is my new thing.  It looks so much neater than 2x2 ribbing, I think, and it doesn't curl up.  I am pleased with this sweater (it has pockets!), though the collar is a bit of a mystery to me.  I suppose it would help to check other ravelry projects to see what other knitters did.

Robin Hood

It became, unintentionally, the new Robin Hood tunic, when the sun is not too warm.  I will admit that we have been known to watch the animated version of the story, one of the veyr few cartoons my children have watched.  I enjoy the nostalgia of it, though I never saw it until my teens. ;-)  You can see that Roan has moved up to a long bow.  And my bow-making skills have improved quite a bit over the years.  I had to make three new ones yesterday (this one didn't survive the afternoon).  If you're crafting on bows, green maple is a great choice.  There's no sense in buying one for everyday play--it's wonderful to model resourcefulness.

In Caps Tee

And here's an In Caps Tee for Willow, I think.  This is a very fast project, I must say, and wonderful for fairly mindless knitting.  I've done a couple more inches since yesterday afternoon, just knitting around and around and around.  It's time for some more strips now.  I expected to run out of the discontinued purple, so I did some pink from Willow's owl hat.  I don't even think it was necessary--a miracle of loaves and fishes in yarn!  Willow likes the stripes, anyway.  This may well become my new instant sweater (since I've never had one before).  It would be very easy to add longer sleeves, right?

I have a few knitting projects in mind for the next while, or the Summer: mittens all around, a new hat for myself, a few small things.  I think they'll be good for keeping steam on knitting while attending to the more pressing tasks that warm weather brings.  Now my mind is turning to pajamas and short-sleeved dresses.  Laurel is set, but Willow needs more.  We all need pajamas for warmer nights, so I've bought patterns for Roan and me from eBay.  This might just be the Summer of Seersucker.

For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams.

Nature School at Home

Violet wake up
Spring is coming, spring is coming
VIolet, wake up
Spring is coming here!

~Enki Grade One Movement

Spring is such a full time, after the long wait of Winter. Right now, I have many plans swirling in my mind--planning for chickens (real ones!), plants to get into the ground, seeds to sow, soil to amend, a bed to build, hugelkultur, more Spring cleaning, brush piles to move. . . For a week or two, what's happening here at home needs to take priority over what's happening in the woods.  Spring happens in the forest near the middle of April, so I'll take a pass to enjoy what's happening here at home where the sunshine has warmed the soil.  This is nature, too!


First up, violets.  Violets!  They're just starting to bloom, so the children were happy to pick jars full and pour honey over the top.  They really enjoy Susun Weed and were inspired to make their own.  We've made violet jelly in previous years, so we thought we'd do something new this year.  Violet honey for sore throats makes colds sound more pleasant, right?


Willow wanted to make dandelion vinegar, too, so we prepared a small jar, enough for a batch of salad dressing on that first lettuce.  When I told her she'd actually have to try the vinegar, she acted a little surprised!  Not the most adventurous eater, she will eat salads, so I am hopeful.  Willow really loves to pretend to be an herbalist and will spend long periods making various concoctions. I think it is meaningful to use this enthusiam to really make things the family can use.  Children love knowing they are doing something real, as much as they love to pretend.

Our little projects will be ready to strain on Roan's birthday, which is often a celebration of the season's best.  Spring is at its height around his birthday and May Day, and we often have vases of flowers from our yard on the table.  I really love the timing of my children's birthdays, honestly, so near to times of the year that are significant to me.  Roan wastes no time reminding us that his is coming soon (just five weeks!). 
DSC_9903.JPGSpring is back in the air, more gently now.  Yesterday was warm and sunny and I declared it a day for Spring Cleaning.  Really, I've been working on it in little bits for several weeks.  There's never an end to clearing out and tidying up.  Just like housecleaning with young children, things get messy in one area just as you've fixed another one.  I think, for my own morale, I'll list the places I've worked on: pie safe on the back porch, knitting notions, deep freeze, children's closet, bookshelves, car (oh, the lichen!), under the kitchen sink, and some work in the basement.  I've got a whole pile to go to the thirft store, along with a good amount of old Pyrex to go to Ginger.  It's been waiting since last year, honestly.

The children spent the whole day outside, while I was working inside.  All the same, there was plenty of mud on the floors for me to mop up.  I think I must be in the hole-digging phase of mothering.  Mines, cesspits, buried treasure.  All these things are frequently mentioned, along with sidewalk chalk and flower blossoms ground up into various remedies (or pesticides).  Ironically, they decided to Spring clean the playhouse, too.  They had a marvellous time with it all, of course, and stayed out until the light faded.  Today will be back to the grind with school work and Soup Day.  Always Soup Day.  It's going to be cool, anyway, and the thought of hanging out laundry is not very appealing.

I'm knitting along on Roan's sweater, about the to the bottom of it.  Next will come the collar, and then sleeves and pockets.  Roan is asking me to make short sleeves on it, and that's really tempting.  Grandad always wore a short-sleeved sweater.  The weather looks absolutely perfect for Saturday, when we'll have the Maple Festival.  Ten degrees above average and sunny--such a contrast to the past couple years of snow.   It's cool and breezy today, but the sunshine is so nice.  I get more glad for Spring each year.


Leaves :


Just down the road from the Ice Rocks, is Alligator Back. Being so close, just 2/10 of a mile, the conditions could not have been more different! It was sunny and warm. We sat at the overlook drinking tea and watched heat waves rise up from the grass.  But, like where we are, the climate of the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of great variability.  The wind often blew in clouds and cool air.  It paid to keep a hat on or have the coats piled nearby.

Traveler at the Alligator Back

The Arkansas Traveler and I took in the sights while the children climbed rocks.  You can see them in the link above.  They joyfully climbed and hiked for about two hours.

The View

These are views I never tire of.  It is interesting to note that the Parkway itself is a fairly narrow strip of land.  It feels like another world when you are on it.

Above the Ice Rocks

This is the area just above the Ice Rocks.  You can see them pre-road here.


So, the weather. A warm rain fell on us while we ate our sandwiches, just feet from the Ice Rocks where it was so cold. Then, the sun came out. The wind blew in fits and threatened to carry our tea cups off. The air was still. It was warm again. One thing we didn't see was fog, for once. Down in West Jefferson, we went to the Ashe County Cheese Company for Mike. We came out to find it raining, and then it started to hail as we were leaving town! I had just remarked about how we hadn't experienced hail yet, in all the changing conditions of the day. Back home, it felt warm-ish and then it started to snow that night.  Honestly, we are somewhat used to this kind of fluctuation and I really enjoy wild weather, when we are prepared for it.  Goodness, we had such a good time.

The Ice Rocks at Doughton Park

The "Ice Cliffs," Grandad called them.  He always wanted to go see the Ice Cliffs.  They were on the list that we intrepid sight-seers made in the last years of his life--Buffalo Mountain, the Brown Mountain Lights, Stone Mountain, Burke's Garden, Roan Mountain, Cumberland Gap.  He and Grandma Lois had been prolific travelers in his post-retirement years.  The Blue Ridge Parkway was one of their favorite destinations.  We'd always had in mind to go to the Ice Rocks, but we'd never made it there.  By their very nature, their presence results in road closures.  No one wants to slide off the mountain going to see them, after all.  After a mild Winter with one big blast of cold air at its end, we were inspired to seek them out after looking at the icy cliffs outside our little town.

Ice Rocks 1

Having driven by them many times on warmer days, it was a simple matter of looking in my Parkway guides.

Ice Rocks 2

In it, they were called the "Ice Rocks" and found to be in Doughton Park.

Ice Rocks 3

I think we got there just in time.  I bet the last of the ice will be gone this week.

Road Ice

While it was a small show, compared with other years or earlier in the Winter, it was no less impressive.
The ice that had fallen showed some serious water at work.

Ice Rocks 4

It was fifty-five when we arrived, but the wind sweeps ups these stone cliffs with some ferocity.
That quick trip I made back to the car for coats and hats--that was a wise one!

Ice Rocks 5

It was like being in a great freezer with big fans blowing on you.
The wind was so swift at one point, it was hard to walk.

Windy Face

I had given Mike my hat and put up my hood.
The wind was trying mightily to blow it off my head.
I thought this photo was too funny when I saw it.

Ice Rocks 6

You can see here the better part of the ice that was remaining at our visit.  The cliffs go on a bit more, with a little fringe of ice at the top.  You can see photos of them during a more typical year here.  While it wasn't much, comparatively, we all found it to be a powerful, magical place.  We have firm plans to come back next Winter to see them again.  Roan was thrilled at the idea that the ice would come back and probably be more next year.  He kept sharing the news with great excitement and really wanted to bring a big piece home.  That is what I find frightening about climate change--the security that we have known, both for food production and for simple seasonal joys from nature, is at risk.

This wonderful write-up gives a good history of the area.  It tells that the facilities in the Doughton Park area have been closed for some time.  Indeed, the coffee shop where we ate with Grandad in 2008 was not only closed, but appeared to have the glass out of the windows.  It's heartbreaking to me to see our public lands lose funding to keep things in operation.  The current political climate is even more depressing.  I've written here and there over the years about facilities and staffing falling by the wayside, and it seems things will only get worse.  It does, however, drive me to spend more time visiting these places.  We vote with our dollars, after all, and visitors to National Parks matter in a big way.

I don't mean to end on a sour or sad note.  Despite the complexity of the Parkway's beginnings and the uncertainty of its future, it holds a special place in my heart.  It calls to me in a very deep way, one of my great loves.  Now that the children are beyond the baby years and into the bouldering years, I think it's time we spent more time there again. 

Nature School :: Into the Wind

To open and close Winter with a visit to the Snail Place and the sight of rime ice seems fitting.  I think that is what we have done, this time around.  I never really dreamed that the strongest parts of the season would be at its beginning and end, but that's the way it's gone.  It was very windy yesterday, but we bundled up to enjoy one last(?) romp in the snow. The ice had blown off, but I could find signs of it on top of the snow, little branches with frost going to one side.

Snowy Ridge

The valleys were clear, as you can see, but the mountains still had plenty of snow.  Just take your pick!

In the Wind

It was quite windy along this little ridge.  I was quite glad I'd made the last-minute decision to put on a second pair of socks and grab a pair of Mike's mittens to put over mine.  He's always off in some warmer place, so I'll use them for him.  We were all wearing scarves (me in my cowl), but the wind was so swift that I had to shield the side of my face with my hand.

Up the Hill

The children made themselves busy up on the little rise where their den was built.  You can see it on the right in the background.  They would climb the little hill (a road cut) and slide down.  Nature's Playground :: the Original Playground, I like to call it.


I enjoyed the drifted snow.  You can see some of it flying in the picture here--Laurel was coming up beside me when I snapped this.  I really like this photo.

Snowy Road

After that, I took a walk up the tower road, just a bit.  Walking in overalls makes a person a bit stiff, though quite warm.  It was a good, short workout, trying to heft myself along.

Tea in the Snow

Back at the bottom, Willow and Laurel had snow in their boots, so it was time to head home.  We enjoyed our tea first, and I made the sad discovery that I broke the Thermos.  This one was new to us and I dropped it by the car when I was getting it out.  Holding it up to the light confirmed that the glass inside was shattered.  I've never had that happen before, but I've always been very careful.


If I were to sum up one goal for Nature School, it would be Love of Place.  It took me a long time to get to this, from the early days of camping with my parents.  Twenty-five years, I guess.  For a long time, I wanted to know the names of things, to catalogue random tidbits, to get to the top of the mountain or the big waterfall.  The over-all mood of a place: the feelings it gives of peace or nostalgia or wildness (like trees stunted by the wind)--those are the quiet gifts.  I guess they do take time to come to fruition.  Certain places wouldn't be quite so special to me if I didn't have a long history with them.  They've been there through the years, both the same and changing, and that has been a real blessing.  I want my children to have a personal store of memories in natural places, of relationships with the land, that they can draw from later on when the human version of life gets to be too much.

The View from Here :: Looking Out

Looking Out

This Winter has spoiled us.  We've all become accustomed to running outside without coats or hats on.  We've been used to mild breezes and drippy rain.  To have the weather turn SO cold after a month of sunshine and daffodils is a little tough.  We'd forgotten what Winter was like, I guess.  Cabin fever has been the theme of the week.  It stayed in the twenties all day yesterday, though the sun did bring a little melting.  I think it is likely that my blueberries are frostbitten, with the wind and cold.  Oh, well.  That cold wind couldn't get at my broccoli waiting on the kitchen windowsill.  There is frost creeping up the storm windows this morning and we've got plans for nature school at the Snail Place.  I'm hoping there will be some snow there for us to enjoy, all bundled up.  Everyone's waking up, so happy Thursday!

Crafting On :: Cold Snap

It's been snowing and blowing all day, but not doing very much in the way of sticking. The ground is just too warm down in our valley, I guess. We still have the same amount we had this morning!  That's okay.  We took advantage of the warmish roads and drove up to the Snail Place to see the snow and rime ice.  How pretty it was!  I can't help but put some snow photos in with the knitting, can I?  It's been very nearly a month since our last real taste of Winter.

Blueberries in Bed

Here are the blueberries, all tucked under some sheets.
Crafting covers that won't blow off certainly counts, right?
I think I finally got my technique figured out!

Snowy Trees

And King Winter showed off his handiwork to us, as you can see.
I just love it when the trees are all covered in whiteness, such a brief miracle.

Snail Place

And here's the road to our den, all cold and windy.  SO COLD!
It was foggy, too, and you couldn't see a thing down in the valley.

Rime Ice

I really love rime ice so much.  It always brings me such pure joy.

Water Bottle Carrier

Okay, now the knitting.

Here is Waldorf Mama's water bottle carrier.  I admired those years ago and finally made one.  This is Wool of the Andes, scraps from pilot caps I made Willow and Roan, and it felted very well.  You can find my notes here--I did knit it flat, instead of in the round.

Little Spare Time

And this is the Little Spare Time Sweater, that I am calling the "Greenwood Sweater."  It's certainly cheery for St. Patrick's Day, though I doubt I have enough "spare time" to finish it by then.  Then again, it's going to be even colder tomorrow. . .

For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams.

Abundant Sunshine

That was the forecast for this weekend, instead of that mythic snow.  I think my visions of being cozily holed up together were a little too clear.  Whenever I can see something with too much detail, it doesn't happen.  It's funny how that works.  Oh, well!

Chestnut OakWe spent the time productively.  Since it was cold, I defrosted the deep freeze.  This is always a big job, but the results are so pleasing.  It's also a good time to take stock of what's left.  Obviously, I could just grow pumpkins for Jack O'Lanterns this year with no ill effects.  There was little that was thrown away, so that felt nice.  We all like to avoid waste.  At the same time, Mike brought home a carload of wood for next Winter, plenty of apple that was already cut into perfect lengths in sizes that would be just right for our fire place!  We often find or are given free firewood.  It is so nice how things like that work out.

I spent the afternoon on some basement work, trying to make the space more un-usable.  Yes, un-usable.  I want to spend less time down there!  Storing the toy library down there means that I often have a big mess.  Either I take things down and get other things without putting it all back, or there are raids to the library.  While it is fun to discover old toys or have variety, I need things to be static for awhile.  We have some challenging developmental things going on right now, so it seemed best to just move it all off-premises down the street to Grandad's old apartment.  More on that later, perhaps.

Katherine and I walked around the Settlers' Museum yesterday, first out to the old farmhouse, then on the AT back to the schoolhouse, and then on the birding trail back to the farm.  We walked a lot!  I remember Ruth Goodman saying that women need lots of walking in order to feel good, and I cannot help but agree.  Maybe it is because so much of our work is in one spot, over and over?  I think I have spent half my life standing over the kitchen sink.  Nonetheless, it was so good to get out in that cold sunshine to enjoy talking and moving.  I know we were both markedly more relaxed when we said farewell, and that is the important thing.

This week is supposed to be quite cold, more like February.  Wednesday will see highs in the twenties with lows in the teens.  While many places have fruit trees blooming, we have been blessed in our little spot.  The blueberries were put to bed and the apples are still sleeping, as are the berry brambles.  The wind may have blown off the covers in the night, but that is soon fixed.  I told Roan we'd be doing a lot of covering and uncovering in the coming weeks.  It was so easy to picture a truly early Spring.  I should have known better. ;-)

A Blessed Wilderness

It was just like being in heaven, being in there. In those days there was no road. The park was all a blessed wilderness. I have often thought what a wonderful people we would have been if we had wanted to keep it that way.

~Adolph Murie, biologist, on Denali


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