Living with Intention

Last spring I found myself in the midst of my normal chaos. Too many jobs, too many projects and too little balance. That was when Ben told me he thought we should plant a garden.

A garden that needed weeded, watered and looked after. He said that to the girl who could barely keep a “no one can kill this kind of plant” alive.

I think I laughed.

We were rarely home as it was. It is hot in the summer and I have an aversion to mosquitoes which happen to be Michigan’s state bird.

The pessimist in me obviously wasn’t convinced. We decided to start it late in the spring and had everything else going against us. Poor soil, a local covey of deer, and two hunting dogs that like to dig. Did I mention the mosquitoes?

I reluctantly began to buy in to his hair-brained idea and figured the act of working up the plot of yard would be exercise at a minimum. What I didn’t realize was that spending an afternoon working manure into the soil would be the beginning of my finding balance, patience and a reconnection with the many life lessons my mother taught me as a child.

I remember the day we first found plants coming through the soil. Vivid memories of green bean plants popping through the dirt in our family garden were floating through my mind as I stared at our rows in wonder. The veggies I despised as a child were now a thing of peace as I spent time determining what was growing by intention and what was growing by opportunity.

Ben and Garden 2009 Ben & our garden last spring, just after planting

I was still at war with the mosquitoes.

And the deer.

I almost cried the morning Ben walked in the house and broke the news. Our tender shoots were devoured by deer in the night. A tasty snack for them supplied by hours of our hard work. The look of disappointment on his face was something I hope to never see again. It would have been easy to quit. We overcame the odds and grew plants from seeds when everyone said we should just by plants. They were now just green stubs. Instead of quitting, we pushed more seeds into the soil.

And put up a fence.

We learned a lesson in patience. We learned a lesson in persistence and were rewarded with new shoots.

Throughout the summer, we took the time to walk around our creation in the morning and work the soil when we had time.

I learned to love the garden.

New possibilities began to present themselves as I recalled the rows and rows of beautifully preserved vegetables, fruits and meat my mother canned. I remembered the huge binder twine loop that we threaded through the Ball canning jar rings and the piles of lids which were ever present in the dishwater.

I began to ask my mother questions about when during the year she canned certain things. Her cherry jam, which was preserved in the freezer, was my favorite. Chemotherapy wracked her body during that time, but not her mind. We spent hours talking about what to plant and what we should do this spring.

As summer turned to fall, and our first garden went from beautiful plants to baskets of broccoli, peas, green beans and peppers, becoming more self sufficient didn’t seem like such an insurmountable undertaking. Instead, it became a passionate winter time conversation.

PeppersFirst of our Peppers last year

This morning, I checked on our chickens, excited about Ben finishing the chicken coop this week. I admired the beautiful dark soil we worked last night in our garden.

First Day with Chickens 003 Lucy watching our chicks the day we brought them home

My sisters express their shock at my “domestication.” I view it more as living with intention. It takes time to plan, plant, harvest and preserve. As I look forward to buying my first pressure canner and seeing shelves lined with vegetables and jams, I realize that my life has lacked intention. I grew up reacting instead of being proactive. This new found perspective on life is bringing peace, happiness and balance.

And lots of fresh vegetables.

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Quote for Sunday

“Its the little things that make you happy.  It’s the little things that piss you off.”

–Dr. M.G.

I love working with Mark.  He has this amazing way of throwing a thought provoking quote into the middle of conversation.  Many times I wish I had written his words down for later contemplation.  Unfortunately, I usually have a syringe in my hand and a patient on the stretcher when they are spoken. 

Today I was lucky.

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9/365 I’m Finding Frogs Auntie Em!

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Gauge and his frogs . . . every 5 year old
should have rubber boots!

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8/365 Post YTB Brief Celebration

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4/365 Vacation ala Stinky Steve

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Peanut Butter Fudge and Tradition

We would fight to scrape the pan and eat the melt-in-your-mouth fudge bits left after mom was done.  After it cooled, the fudge squares were dumped over a huge bowl of popcorn which four small children devoured during the annual playing of “The Wizard of Oz,” on television in the days before VCRs or streaming video.

As an adult, who moved back home against all odds, my life is now more about reliving the traditions created for my siblings and I by my mother.

This winter, I spent countless hours with Ben trying to remember the names of the birds which swarmed our feeders.  With my mother’s cancer treatment wrecking her body this summer, I took the time to sit with her and relearn to knit.  Time normally spent writing or engrossed in social media, I spent remembering why small things are important.

I helped plant a garden, canned pickles, and visited 93 year old Grandma Millie and her live-in boyfriend Chuck.  I worked on my quilt, finished knitting a stocking cap and a scarf.  I baked bread.  I relearned how to bobber fish, caught my first salmon down rigger fishing, and cut my first hole to ice fish.  I watched Meteor Showers with Ben while floating on Lake Michigan.

I went skydiving, read books, and simply sat.  Sat and enjoyed sunsets.  Sat and enjoyed the Scottville Clown Band.  Learned to play a C Major scale on my guitar.  I cleaned out closets, decorated our first Christmas tree, learned to play Marbles, and enjoyed hundreds of cups of coffee.

As I look forward to the imminent spring frog symphony, and celebrate the first song of the Red Winged Black Bird, I know that a summer of insanity awaits.  I also know that before summer comes the first green shoots of flowers my mom would call me outside to witness.

Mom still calls me to announce the first Robin sighting of Spring.  It never fails.  She is always the first to see one.

As I cut the peanut butter fudge into little squares and share the first piece with Ben, I acknowledge that life is about the small, ever important moments in which you take the time to appreciate the song of a bird, the sweetness of a homemade treat, or the beauty of a sunset.

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3/365 Flips, Farmers’ Almanac and the Ides of March

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