Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Year in the Woods

I've always had a special sort of fondness for dandelions. I have been moved by how long their roots are - Burdock and Arrow-leaved Balsam root too - it's amazing to me how they can push their roots down so deep - often through hard poor soil and settle in to the business of growing their flowers and spreading their seeds. They make do with the soil they come to and they seem to thrive. They bloom where they're planted as the saying goes.Perhaps I feel an affinity with them because I too am someone who puts down deep, deep roots. I have always been so. Home has a very special meaning to me and I have always had a deep connection to my "home" no matter where it has been. This home is my third long term home; we have been here for just over ten years now and have many special memories here. This is also the home where my love for gardening was able to have free reign. We've put our heart and soul into these gardens and so it has been a bittersweet decision to sell this place...this place my boys have been raised in, but we've made this decision in order to get one step closer to our dream of owning an acreage.
These past few months have been extremely emotional for us - deciding to sell, preparing our place for sale, having people come through, getting rid of things we've outgrown or no longer use, selling and then trying to find somewhere new to live. Things haven't always gone as we had hoped, we've learned a lot about ourselves and our attachment to "home", I particularly have had some difficulties with the idea of being "home"less since I have identified myself mostly as a "home"learning parent and a "home" maker these past 13 years. The loss of my gardens and all the time that I normally spend in them has also been cause for some serious "stretching lessons" for me. Just now I find myself feeling very rootless - unsettling for a deep-rooted person - and although I don't want us to be bare-rooted for too long, I also believe there is value in moving beyond our comfort zones sometimes. In a book I love by Sue Bender she writes about "stretching lessons" and I prefer that term over "growth opportunities", I think we can all get so comfortable in our usual way of life/habits that we can forget there are other ways of living. I love the idea of stretching (or sometimes of being stretched against our will) beyond our comfort in order to "get" a much-needed lesson - sometimes (often in human nature?) it takes that uncomfortable stretch to really get a lesson. Much of my life and my boys' lives happen around the garden season - tree pruning time, blossom time, planting time, weeding (always!), roses blooming, strawberry time then apricot, peach, plum, walnuts, etc, then harvest and preserving - an unending parade of natural happenings that we follow along with, things we have grown used to. This move means a change to all of that and I believe that this shake up could mean big changes for us...certainly for the year but hopefully it will also be a time to make even more conscious choices about the way we are living each day.
We have less than a month left here and most of it will be spent packing - packing away a life and a way of life. The interim place we will be living will not be a place that supports my gardening addiction; it is a home in the woods, high up with a short growing season and loads of deer around. We've decided to consider this next year as a sabbatical, some people take A Year by the Sea, we will take a year in the woods. No renovations to do, no yard work, no fruit trees, no garden. What will I do? I ask myself. What will you do? people ask us. Certainly it will be a time for reflection. A time to consider just how we want to go forth from here. A time to decide what parts of this life we want to bring forward to the next part of our life and the next home and what parts no longer serve us. A time for more fun and play with the boys. A time for more living, loving and learning. A time to remember what used to bring us joy - what hobbies, habits and activities - before so much of our time was taken up with "home" work. A time to see what of our "stuff" we actually use and what is just excess. And, hopefully, a time to find our future home...our acreage, our future gardens. In looking at places to rent I have seen that the boys also share my deep attachment to "home" and that they have a real need for the comforting sense of home that they have grown up knowing. I'm pleased that that is important to them, I want them to place a priority on "home" and have it be of value to them.

Certainly it will be sad for us to leave here and there will be lots of tears. Already as we take pictures of certain things we each of us hold dear - the tree house, the "dirt pit", the gardens, particular flowers or trees - we feel sadness that it will be the "last time" we see these things. There is also so much to be done as we pack that there just isn't a lot of time for melancholy especially as I'm trying to fit in as much fun as can be had during such a time to ease things a bit. We've been out for lots of hikes lately and this helps to remind us that we can enjoy nature's offerings as well even once we won't have our own gardens, for my husband and I having less "home"work to do offers us the chance to get back into more hiking - something we used to do all the time. We found all sorts of good stuff on this weekend's hikes - mushrooms, wild clematis, wild ginger, prickly pear cactus and much more.
Good reminders to me that there is beauty everywhere, goodness all around, abundance and growth in unlikely places...and many, many opportunities for joy, if we are only willing to be open to it. And that sometimes, even as life offers up some prickles here and there... sometimes those very prickles can lead to far greater loveliness than we can even imagine

And all that to explain why things have been so quiet around here lately. ;-)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns

Yesterday seemed like a good day for a special treat. Since the freezer still has loads of pumpkin in it I thought a treat involving pumpkin puree would be especially good. I found this recipe here and thought it sounded good enough to try Right Away. ;-) I thawed the pumpkin to use in the dough. (There's nothing quite like the smell of pumpkin, cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg.) Then we headed to the library to pick up our books while the dough was rising.
This was the part of the recipe that I found interesting. Usually I spread butter on the rolled out dough and then sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon on top. This recipe had you mix the butter, cinnamon, sugar, honey and vanilla in a bowl to make a soft spread for the dough. Isn't that genius? (let me assure you that it IS genius - the taste is amazing)
This is a double recipe - if you're going to have a treat you might as well have a treat, heh? :-)

One thing I did a little differently was the icing. This icing is just a bit of cream cheese mixed with some runny honey and a bit of vanilla. It would also have been delicious with a squeeze of fresh orange in it. By the time they came out of the oven it was almost dinner time. We enjoyed one straight from the oven while sitting out in the sun. W said how good they were and then figured that we should have another - since they were best when warm - and I quite agreed.
So we each had a second and decided to call it dinner. And what could be a more special treat than that. ;-)