Spring comes more slowly, more subtly to the High Desert. It's here, but you must know its signs to recognize its arrival. While the valley is awash in bulbs and leaves and wet, here there are tight buds of leaves, tender shoots of perennials, green blades of grass.
Inside the house, however, Spring arrives with energy and heralds the return of warmer weather and long, lazy days. Daffodils - 30 stems for less than $4! - grace my table. It's far too early to plant outside - we anticipate frost for a few more months - but a few transplants and seedlings, gently cared for under a grow light, promise more dirty hands in the months to come.
All winter I've been saving my fiber trimmings: tiny bits of thread, colorful scraps from the boys' art projects, the delicate ends from my crochet. I found the idea somewhere on Pinterest (of course!) and had to try. After the Vernal Equinox, I filled an empty suet container with the vibrant bits, hoping that the local birds would use them to build cozy, colorful nests. E saw a length of yarn was hanging out of our bird house for a few days. Too bad: I missed it; though the knowledge filled me with a small sense of triumph. However, I did see a small songbird stealing fluffy chicken feathers shed by our flock from the the coop - a cozy bit of down for her nest, and a highlight in my day.
And: the egg. (Though these white ones for Easter - organic, to be sure! - came from the store.) With longer, warmer days, we have been grateful for an abundance of eggs. A symbol of renewal, rebirth, and beginnings.
Slowly, we awake from our winter slumber. The old growth from last year is cleared away to provide sunlight for the new life pushing up, with determination and hope, towards the sunshine.
I created, organized, and decorated my studio with the intention of fashioning a creative haven for myself. A place of creativity, inspiration, and prolific making. At the time, I envisioned a place for me to be solitary in my creativity, though I did add a chair and a small desk for visitors. Truth be told, I spend more time in this space with company than I do alone.
On my favorite chilly winter days, the boys and I find ourselves secluded there together. Mama, can we make something in your studio? We sort through pipe cleaners and a stack of gold paper I've had for 20 years, play with copious amounts of tape and glue, string beads, twist small bits of wire, experiment with adding salt and sugar to wet watercolors, share a pot of tea. I keep scissors for small hands and a scrap basket full of fabric they can use without ever having to ask. In this space, they have created suits of armor, numerous paper cranes, blankets for baby dolls, glow in the dark bracelets for stuffed tigers, gifts for loved ones, and various medieval weaponry.
There is a sense of calm and companionship that infuses these peaceful hours. After a rough-and-tumble morning, this unscheduled creative time is restorative and so refreshing. I love to share this space I love with my loved ones. I love to witness the creative process of their young, open minds. It only takes a bit of tape or a length of yarn to get started. Often, my personal creativity can seem elusive or - even worse - forced. But my boys approach time in the studio with the same loaded for bear attitude they bring to everything else in life. Let's get started and see what happens.
Eventually, E will wander upstairs to see what we're up to. He sits down, asks the boys what they're making, joins us. He frequently compliments the relaxed and peaceful atmosphere I've cultivated. All those boys, crowded into my little pink room, making things together. It's heartwarming and inspiring, even if it only lasts an hour.
Then there are the evenings, after the boys are in bed and the house is quiet, that we are both in the studio. Sharing a glass of wine, listening to soothing music, each with our own project. I love those times, too.
What a difference a year makes. My youngest is three. There are no more babies in my house. There is no more napping at my house. Instead, I have a big boy jumping fearlessly into the pool, trusting that I will catch him safely. His sweetness is evident in the many times he says I love you, in his cuddles and hugs. And yet, he has discovered his stubborn, defiant streak. He will make his own choices, or else.
It is our job to help him revel in his independence, so he may be comfortable and happy as a big boy. I will love him regardless of his defiance, and together we will find a path through his inflexibility.
I have been reveling in his well-rested smiles. The corners of his sweet mouth tip us, showing his white teeth and apple cheeks; his eyes sparkle. And my heart warms like strawberries in the June sunshine.
When a beloved friend announced she's eloping in Italy to marry the man of her dreams, immediately I knew I wanted to make something special for her bridal luncheon. Such occasions make me so happy to be a reasonably creative person. I can purchase a decent pair of sheets, thread my needle and suddenly create a potential heirloom.
But the best part was the presentation. I think this shows my dedication to our friendship: admitting to a crowd of unknown women (and blog readers) that yes, I have been known to read a trashy novel...or forty. I was blushing while wrapping this, and I don't think it was the, ahem, balmy evening.
Mama, why is there a red light bulb?
- So Amanda can be cozy with her sweetheart.
Are these people being cozy?
- Oh. Um. Yes. Yes, they are.
It was worth it all to see her so pleased, so glowing, so in love. She puts the most passionate fictional heroine to shame.
Motherhood is truly the best job ever. And to be celebrated on a special day, to share it with my own mother, to be treated to brunch, champagne, a manicure and pedicure, to dream of planting a garden that just may grow as quickly as my children, to be given a box of lizards and unending raspberry kisses...well it just doesn't get much better. So thank you. Thank you.
Bald eagle. Shark. Mama bird.
In our natural habitat.
The Procession of the Species is an annual Earth Day event in Bend. Children, families, all sorts of people dress up like mountains, trees, insects and animals and walk around a few blocks downtown. I found it tremendously fun and loved the community spirit. Also, it was a wonderful opportunity to play with glitter and feathers and a glue gun.
"You're the prettiest, Mama. You're the fanciest!"
It was a great day for art projects. Simple and spontaneous...that's the best kind. He found a little pouch of wood and glass beads on my desk and asked, "Can I have them? Please, please, please?" He was adamant that he wanted to make the necklace for me. And he was surprisingly focused through to the end. I've been wearing it all day. Unfortunately, I was unable to take a decent photo of the finished product (my yoga clothes have been well accessorized today).
(The red smudge on his cheek is leftover from the thumbprint drawings.)
A rare treat on the evenings my husband misses dinner: pizza and a movie. Slowly, I'm learning to bake my own bread. It's not easy to create the perfect sandwich loaf. But homemade pizza dough? Easy as pie. Pizza pie. I follow Mark Bittman's recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and add toppings as my panty and fridge allow. That means sometimes there is red sauce, always there are cheese and veggies, occasionally some sausage or salami, even an egg. The only constant is to layer the flavors sparingly - each slice should have a little of everything, but not be too dense or overwhelming - and to let the pizza rest for five minutes after slicing.
What about the carrots and apple slices, you ask? I add them to the cutting board and thus I can boast to serve a bevy of healthy options with dinner. Let's keep it a secret between us that I ate them all.
Decades ago, this blanket lived on my parents' bed. As a child, I remember my family of five picnicking on it during concerts in the park and days at the beach. It kept me warm during college - I especially loved the groovy look back then. It's spent innummerable hours in the trunk, traveling up and down the coast, playing host to countless lazy afternoons and starry evenings.
It's still a favorite. As early spring brings warmer afternoons, one of my favorite activities is sitting on the blanket. I'm the only one who stays put for any length of time - the baby prefers to crawl through the grass and the toddler usually chooses to dig or to ride his bike. I enjoy the weak sunshine on my face, breathing deeply, treasuring these fleeting moments of calm.