The gardening season is wrapping up and my plot is a tangle of brown tomato stalks and still-green fruits that for one reason or another never chose to ripen. I have been knee deep in soil lately, putting to bed my own plot and working one day a week at Robin Hollow Farm. I visited the farm for my Gardenista story, and they asked if I might want to work one day a week. They find themselves short staffed in the fall when their college helpers return to school. I was thrilled at the chance- I was desperately craving some time outside of the house, away from the computer, to lose myself in hard work and natural beauty. As a writer, my work can get isolating. I love the various articles I have worked on that get me out into the community- the interview and photography stage- but when you get home, the reality of being a writer is just hours in front of a computer screen. Although I will always write, I am finding myself drawn to work that is active and engaging. The kind of work that causes your muscles to ache at the end of the day. Perhaps I am only feeling this way because I am on deadline for a series of projects. But this much I know for certain…we are having a magical fall, full of sun and changing leaves, mums and pumpkins, orchard visits and apple crisps. I am soaking it all in, loving every minute of it. So if things are a bit quiet around these parts, you’ll find me outside basking in the autumn sun and storing the warmth to help get me through the impending winter. That being said, I am excited for winter knitting and crafting….I haven’t picked up my needles in over a month now! Each season has its gifts, that is for sure.
This past weekend my husband and I went to Vermont….ALONE….WITHOUT THE KIDS. Just for a night, but still, it was our first time ever being away from them as a couple. We drove through picturesque towns, stopping for coffee, to take in the sights, or grab a bite to eat. We had no real agenda, except to explore. We have both been incredibly busy lately, and we felt like we needed to connect, to sit down to a leisurely dinner, and talk late into the night about our hopes and dreams for our little family.
Of course, it helped that we were blessed with the most beautiful fall weather complete with crisp misty mornings and vibrant changing leaves. We discovered the charming town of Grafton, VT and it stole our heart with its quaint New England charm. Deerfield and Northhampton were also on our itinerary, both fun towns to explore.
It was perfection, and we both came back invigorated and full of energy to tackle some of the challenges that life has been throwing at us lately. Tending to your marriage when you are busy with two toddlers can be tough, but it is so important. I think our overnight was a good reminder that every now and then, it is good to step away and rekindle the romance. However, we found ourselves racing home in order to tuck our boys in the following night, laughing at how badly we were missing their rambunctious ways. I guess we can only take the relaxation and quiet for a day or two before we’re ready to dive back into the madness!
With Vijay in school two mornings a week, I have a bit of breathing room in my schedule right now. Of course I still have Vik home during that time, but he is a totally different kid than his brother. He is happy to play independently in the backyard while I sit on the patio with my coffee and write. We still plan fun activities to do together, just the two of us, but there are days where I take an hour or so to work. This has meant that I am able to take on some super fun freelance work, including contributing quite regularly to Gardenista, a gorgeous gardening/diy/ inspiration site.
I wanted to share with you my latest article featuring Robin Hollow Farm, a beautiful flower farm in Saunderstown, Rhode Island. While you’re there, I’d love for you to take a look at my other articles. It has been so much fun to get out into the community of gardeners and growers here in Rhode Island, and mix it up a bit. And if you know of any beautiful gardens in the area, please send your recommendations my way! I’m at the point where I need a bumper sticker on my car that reads, “Will break for beautiful gardens,” as I am always on the lookout for promising stories.
Life seems to be racing by at lightening speed these days. My husband and I are a bit like ships passing in the night. Big things are happening, thrilling things…but it is tiring to keep up the pace. I’m excited for fall. It feels like things will be settling into place a bit and I am looking forward to crisp days and cool nights. This past weekend was a delicious preview of fall, as the leaves were just beginning their change, and the air was chilly and sweet with the smell of damp earth.
Squam was gorgeous, as always, but I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to sink in and relax. Instead I kept myself busy, taking pictures, touring the surrounding towns and selling my wares at the fair on Saturday. I didn’t have the brain power needed to take classes this year, though if I had, I surely would have taken Ann Wood’s class and made my own sweet little mushroom.
I drove back Saturday night, which was crazy since it was raining hard and I didn’t get home until after 1am. But I was ready for a relaxing Sunday at home, and I needed family time. Do you ever get that panicky feeling, thinking about your sweet little ones tucked into their beds far away and think- “Okay, I need to get on home. NOW.”? Home…it has been on my mind a lot these days. I am learning that for now, it simply means wherever my family happens to be at the moment. It may not be the perfect physical house in the perfect town…but if I’ve got my people, I’m all good.
This is my boys to a T. That is Vijay’s nervous smile, while Vik is just super excited thinking he is going to school along with his brother. The socks and Crocs look is 100% my boys- nothing but high fashion around these parts. Vijay loves shirts with construction and the phrase couldn’t be more fitting- “One Man Wrecking Crew.” I wish I could tell you every detail of his first day of preschool- it was one part tragedy, one part comedy. But we all made it through mostly unscathed, and I have to say, Vik and I had the best little mama/son date during the time Vij was at school, though he kept asking about Vijay. “Vijay crying?” he kept wondering. He was very worried about his brother. Today was the second day of school, and my husband rode with him to school. They made it halfway, then I had to pick them up because Vijay was tired and needed a snack. Oh these boys…they are too much. I’m sorry if this post is a jumble of thoughts- I am running to pick up Vijay from school, and packing for Squam (I leave later today), and I am still processing all my mother emotions. But I wanted to stop in and wish everyone a wonderful weekend. I hope the first week back to school was smooth for everyone, or at least a bit smoother than ours. We’re getting there, though! It’s a process, right!? Right??
I can hardly believe it’s September, though a quick stroll through the market this past weekend confirmed the calendar. It is fall-ish here, but the days are still sunny, bright and beautiful. Oh yes…and extremely busy. I’ve been working towards a handful of deadlines- shooting and writing non-stop. There has been so much juggling, so many late nights and so much travel (my husband, not me) that we’re all feeling a bit exhausted, though there are so many exciting projects in the works. With preschool starting soon I think we’re all looking forward to a routine and structure that will help us feel a bit more grounded and sane. My husband was traveling over the long weekend, which meant I had nights to myself. Instead of attempting anything remotely productive in my exhausted state, I decided to watch The Fault in Our Stars…twice…sobbing like a baby both times. I fell madly in love with the actor who played Gus, although he looks to be about twelve. But he is just so cute, and so good. I read the book when it came out eons ago, and I have read a handful of titles since, but I realized that it has been a good long time since I sunk into a fabulous read. Can I ask you all for some amazing book recommendations? I read anything and everything, though I’m feeling like some good fiction. Books and authors I love: Jhumpa Lahiri, Gillian Flynn, Elizabeth Strout…and I don’t mind good YA. I loved The Fault in Our Stars and Wonder (both made me sob, and sob and sob). One of my favorite books in a long time was The Light Between Oceans. So can we start a list here of amazing, lose-yourself kinda books? I’d love that! Here’s to fall- curling up in bed with a good book sounds just about right!
In the past week there has been a shift and I can feel summer waning. The nights are cooler, the sun sets earlier, and the first golden leaves have already drifted off our trees in the backyard. We had our first preschool event, which gave me so much to look forward to in the coming year. I think we’ve found a community of supportive, amazing, caring people that will nurture Vijay in his very first out-of-home experience. We’re pretty jazzed. I think we’re all ready for a bit of structure and routine to our weeks.
It was a strange summer weather wise, wasn’t it? It took quite a long time to warm up, and even in the middle of summer we never experienced the kind of heat that we’re used to (both in Michigan and Providence). On one hand I’m thankful since our home has no air conditioning which makes hot nights super uncomfortable. But on the other hand, I think I’ve only submerged myself in the pool a handful of times since it is always so chilly. What does this mean for the garden? Basically, it means that nothing really went as planned! But would you look at that harvest above- the colors are so vibrant and gorgeous they almost make me forget that most of my tomatoes are sitting green and heavy on the vine. As before, I took notes throughout the growing season, and I’m glad I did since there were quite a few duds this year, namely the carrot and radish varieties I chose, which were both bitter tasting. But this is why gardening is so intriguing. You put your trust in this tiny seed, nurture it and water it, and then wait to see what it produces. And the results will never be the same thanks to all the variables. If things feel quiet around here, just know that I’m digging around in the dirt, taking time to do some deep thinking about our family’s future, and spending the last few warm days at the pool with the kiddos. It’s going to be alright.
This past week I’ve been in mourning. We came back “home” to Providence and I was hit with the realization that I didn’t want to be here. I left my heart in Michigan, so to speak, and the transition back here has been difficult. The first night home was filled with the loudness of city life- neighbors yelling, cars revving, sirens blaring- and I didn’t sleep a wink, missing that country darkness and quiet. Slowly, slowly I am finding my feet again, readjusting to life here in Providence. Luckily, the kids are so happy-go-lucky that the transition hasn’t been hard on the at all- they loved our time in Michigan for all that it was, and they were happy to be back home to their pool and their friends. Oh to be a kid again- it was all so simple!
As always, my garden and farmers market bring me joy, especially now that they have reached their summer peak. The garden is bursting with 10-foot-tall sunflowers, in every variety imaginable. I planted some in my plot this year, and I absolutely love the pop of color among the greens and tomatoes. The boys come along to help, still wearing their wet bathing suits from the pool. We have to peel the suits off every night, managing only because we promise they can put them back on first thing in the morning. What are we going to do when the pool closes? There will surely be tears!
Last night, as we walked to the garden, sitting in front of the school (where my community garden is) there was a large group of men, sitting around drinking and smoking pot, the ground around them strewn with litter and broken bottles. This is my garden. This is the public school where our kids would attend if we stay here. I went into the garden, chaining the lock behind us, feeling worried as I turned my back to water and weed. This is Providence…and we’re back. At this moment, there is not much more to say.
Each night, once the kids are tucked away, completely exhausted after another day of swimming, scooting, boating and running wild and free, I pick up my latest project, alternating between knitting and sewing. I just finished hand-sewing the binding on this quilt and I am quite pleased with the way it turned out. It’s perfectly girly (made with Posy by Aneela Hoey fabric), which will please my niece, and I hope it drapes nicely over the foot of her bed, as that’s the size I was going for. My mom stumbled across this amazing field of sunflowers, and it seemed the perfect backdrop to show off the quilt. Our summer in Northern Michigan is drawing to a close- I can hardly believe how fast it flew by, and I am already mourning heavily the fact that we won’t see our cottage again for another year. We’ll just have to squeeze every last ounce of fun and adventure out of this weekend and let our memories carry us through til next year.
Here’s the thing about Vik- we could have simply given him a lollypop and called it a day, and he would have been pleased as punch (I mean, do you see that smile?). But really, where’s the fun in that!? This past week we threw a blow-out birthday bash here at the cottage in what is now becoming an annual event. The neighborhood kids began asking us about the party the very first week we arrived- I guess it made quite an impression last time around!
And so we made sure to really outdo ourselves this time around- with a big ole’ monkey pinata, finger sandwiches, lots of tiny homemade chocolate cupcakes, party games, and face painting. Our poor kids- one day when they are forced to have a small, reserved party they are going to be all, “Is this what you call a party?” Indeed, we have spoiled them rotten. But you only turn two once, so why not live it up!
In addition to the splendor of Northern Michigan that I am always raving about, we are so blessed to have grown up spending summers on this particular lane in this particular small lake town. Our lane is a tiny unpaved road, with about 12 cottages- and up until a couple years ago when a new family bought a place here- we were still considered the “new kids on the block.” And that’s after 20 years of having a place here!! Most of the cottages on our lane have been in the same family for three- four generations. That means that everyone here grew up spending summers together, as did their parents, and grandparents. I get a bit misty eyed when I see the new generation of kids- mine included- running wild through the yards, popping into different houses to play, sharing snacks, and learning to water ski. It’s my greatest hope that they all grow up together- spending summers at their grandparents, and year after year, helping my precious little Vik ring in a new year in style.