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abundance

June 7, 2012

Our CSA started up two weeks ago, and we’ve been swimming in greens. There was a hailstorm the day before our first pick up, and we received an email telling us that many crops were severely damaged—some tens of thousands of heads of lettuce—and so our expectation of these early shares were low. Our first week, our box had garlic scapes, kale, two enormous bags of spinach, Japanese hakueri turnips, leeks, chard and two heads of red leaf lettuce, and there were two quarts of PYO strawberries, which we pretty much devoured on our way home from the farm. We made garlic scape and spinach pesto, kale chips, a chard and gruyere quiche, many salads and I sautéed and ate an entire bag of spinach with lemon juice, garlic and pine nuts and ate it, by myself! We roasted the leeks with a head of cauliflower and some potatoes that we ordered with our dairy/beef/chicken co-op products and tossed all of it in the pesto with some roasted pastured chicken and were left with only the turnips yesterday when we went to pick up our second box.

 

Yesterdays box had more garlic scapes, leeks and chard, five heads of lettuce!, beets, radishes, broccoli and bok choy. we had a huge salad last night, had cheesy eggs with chard and pesto for breakfast and made garlic scape hummus wrapped in chard leaves with sliced radishes for lunch. Tonight for dinner, we’re having roasted broccoli soup and a huge salad, and I’ll have to come up with some protein beyond the chicken stock that will be in the soup. Some days, I feel like I’m eating like it’s my job. I’ve been following the Brewer “diet” for pregnancy and trying to keep track of my protein, but it’s so hard to eat so much, and drink enough water and not feel like all I do is eat and drink!

 

I’m glad we held onto the turnips and didn’t just toss them in a salad since I plan on making a miso-butter glazed turnip and bok choy dish with tempeh later this week—tempeh is one of my favorite foods and I allow myself to eat it since, while it’s soy, it’s fermented and ancient and probiotic and delicious! The beets have been challenging, we ordered “a bunch” from our dairy co-op and that bunch turned out to be almost five pounds! We roasted those, and have been eating them in salads, but we got another bunch in the CSA box and now I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’m contemplating chocolate beet something, and throwing the roasted beets in a jar with some onions and balsamic vinegar for a quick pickle. A few weeks ago, I was overwhelmed by strawberries until I plugged away at putting up a small batch of four or five jars a day til they were gone and then I beamed with pride as I gave away a few jars, made strawberry ice cream and strawberry cakes and still had beautiful ruby red row of  jam in my pantry. And  the radishes a week or so ago—our garden produced SO.MANY. RADISHES and they were the first colorful thing to emerge from our wee garden that we enthusiastically ate them with salt on buttered sourdough a few times before realizing that they just kept coming! We pulled them all and I made a fantastic Indian spiced radish relish with them, from one of my favorite canning cookbooks “Put “em Up!” which had the fabulous suggestion of using the relish in potato salad, and now I can’t wait til the potatoes start coming in droves so I can whip up a spicy-sweeet potato salad for potlucks and parties. But the beets. I think it may have to be one of those weird hiding-vegetables-in- places-you-wouldn’t-expect recipes for those. And the garlic scapes? I know last year I was exhausted by the number of scapes we got, week after week, but I think I’ll just make some pesto for the freezer and come January, I’ll appreciate the memory of  bare shoulders, open windows and mosquito bites. Wait, scratch that last part. Freezer pesto–it’s always nice to have a bit of summer to eat on a cold winter’s day, which is why, despite Michael’s attempts at putting it away, the giant canning pot now lives on our tiny stovetop, waiting for all the bounty that’s only just begun. And at that, I just got a text alerting me to the availability of SOUR CHERRIES at a farm not too far away, so it’s time to put on our boots, grab a stepstool and our sunhats and jump in the car!

on sadness, the scarlet letter, and building a new community.

May 29, 2012

I spent the long weekend at home. Actually, I spent all of Saturday in bed, with back spasms and creeping sadness as bedfellows while papa and the kiddos went to two separate parties. It’s funny how days can fly by, one after another when you’re busy and happy, and then seem to last an eternity when you are suffering pain, or grief, or both.

On Friday I deadheaded my roses, transplanted some hostas, took the kids for a walk along the river, drove down to the farm to pick up 12 quarts of strawberries, canned 6 pints of jam, went grocery shopping, baked three strawberry cakes—one for each party and one for us at home, made dinner, spent time with michael and fell into bed bone tired. Saturday morning I woke up completely depleted, weary with back pain and exhaustion. I opted to stay home while the rest of my family set out to party—it was hot, suddenly summer, and I was ill-prepared, cranky and hot. I don’t like having to be sedentary at parties, I like to participate and help and mingle and keep an eye on the kids, and I knew that the pain in my back would force me to sit, uncomfortable and unhelpful, so I opted to stay home in bed, in front of a fan, and finish reading “Wildwood” while napping off and on through the day. By the time my family came home close to 9, the kiddos were already well on their way to dreamland, and I was wide awake. Michael was asleep by 9:30, a long day of child wrangling, driving and heat behind him, and I was alone in the house. That is when the sadness began to creep in.

As I lay in the dark, feeling whorls and hiccups and kicks in my belly, I began to feel so sad that this pregnancy has not been met with the joy it deserves by my community.  I am nearly in my third trimester, and I haven’t heard more than a handful of congratulations or acknowledgements. People in my community are weary of saying anything about my growing belly, and so avoid me. I have had a hard time finding a midwife who hasn’t “risked” me out of her care sight unseen or that I trust and feel safe with,and as such, I am settling for a midwife who is far away, has a terrible office staff, delivers in a crummy hospital and  operates in a very traditional “medical” manner. All because I am supposed to, in most people’s eyes, hide and feel shame for being pregnant.

Last year, I gave birth to a daughter with profound medical problems and Down Syndrome. She required open heart surgery shortly after her birth, needed a feeding tube and had gastrointestinal complications and a host of other health issues. I had been planning a homebirth with her, but my gut instinct told me something wasn’t “right”, despite being told by people in my community that everything would be fine as long as I stopped stressing and “inviting” bad things to happen. I was told by my friends, and by birth professionals, to trust the birth process, that I could “(wo)manifest” health and ease for my pregnancy and birth, and that by seeking out invasive tests, I was inviting trouble and bringing unnecessary stress to myself and my baby. Except that I wasn’t. Instead, I trusted my instincts, I sought out a perinatologist and went for several ultrasounds. Unsatisfied with the findings, I sought out a second perinatologist and was prepared to pay out of pocket for a fetal echocardiogram, because I went in without the required referral for insurance coverage. I didn’t end up having to pay, however, when it was discovered that my intuition was right, that my baby had a profound heart defect. There was no room in the high risk delivery ward at CHOP because I was already 32 weeks pregnant, and so arrangements were made for me to give birth in a nearby smaller hospital with a “medwife” and then have the baby transferred to for surgery after her birth. We were diagnosed with IUGR and I had an amnio to determine whether her lungs were strong enough for a potentially early induction and to determine, once and for all, if she had T21. The results came back that we should try and wait for delivery, and that she did in fact have Down Syndrome. As we prepared for what life might look like with all of these special needs before us, we were told that upon consideration of her condition, she was considered “medically fragile” and what that diagnosis would mean for her, for us and for our other children. We were introduced to therapists and social workers. We were handed a phone number, and we called. There was a family in our area looking to adopt a medically fragile child, who were prepared for all that entailed –medically, emotionally, and financially. We were initially insulted by the suggestion of adoption, but agreed to meet the couple. We saw them on the street in Philadelphia, amid hundreds of other people and singled them out, thinking, “oh, they’d be perfect” and when they walked in the door of the café where we were to meet them, I couldn’t believe it. We talked for a long while, and began to feel like this could be possible. To admit that they were better suited to provide the least restrictive, most supportive environment for her to grow than we were. We cried. I cried for days, and literally didn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t eat without vomiting. I went for non-stress tests and met with more specialists, therapists and surgeons.  We decided to place our baby girl for adoption. I stopped crying so much, and stopped vomiting. We packed away the tiny clothes, the diapers, the little blankets and tiny socks, we sent the carseat back, and on my birthday, just four days before she ended up being born, we told our children.

It was hard. God.I did my best to choke back tears. My littlest cried and cried, at four years old she didn’t really understand, but her empathy won out and she cried the tears I stoically held back until we I gave up and we sobbed together. My older two were so eloquent about their feelings, expressing relief that she would be cared for and be all right, having been terrified that she would die and they would feel responsible. cConfessing they had been so scared—of the equipment we were going to need, the tubes and monitors and devices necessary to keep her alive and healthy, of my always being stressed and sad. My oldest, homeschooled since birth, confessed she felt guilty for her relief, as she was dreading the idea of going to school, which would have been part of the “new normal” had we brought her little sister home. I cried and cried some more. We all cried. We went for a walk, the kids played quietly together on the porch, we had asparagus and pasta with lemon cream sauce for dinner, sang  a half-hearted “happy birthday” to me and went to bed, all of us exhausted. Three days later I had a non-stress test and baby was in distress. I was sent upstairs for an induction, and I had 24-hours to give birth on my own before she was to be surgically removed from my body. Exactly 24 hours and four minutes after I was admitted, our baby girl was born. Tiny, blue and quiet, I held her briefly before she was whisked away to the NICU, and ultimately to her surgery. Her adoptive parents were with her from the start, which gave me much comfort as I was wheeled off to recuperate in a private room and ultimately go home the following morning.

We sent messages via facebook and email to our friends and community honestly explaining all that had gone on. We received some supportive calls and messages in return, but once we I had healed and we were out and about in our community, we realized that the support was mostly just niceties and that many people viewed us through a lens of Schadenfreud, and were friendly out of morbid curiosity. Even among my closest friends, no one knew how to talk to me, how not to blame or judge me, how to not be put out by how “needy” I was, and within six months, I had lost many of my “inner circle” friends, my community. I wasn’t sad about it, because I felt like I actually deserved better than what I had been settling for, and instead put my energy into the friends who stood by me, by my family, and who understood that of course I was needy and sad sometimes, but that I also needed to keep living, to find joy, and that my kids needed love and friends and normalcy, and that I wasn’t heartless or evil for ever smiling or laughing and not walking around with a scarlet “A”, for adoption or abandonment or asshole, whichever I guess. I was sad to lose these friends, to suffer disappointment in people who I had loved, who, in the past, I had lifted up in their times of need, who I had listened to, cried with, who I had cooked for and cared for and gone grocery shopping for, who I had loved without question. I was hurt, yes, and I was sad, but I took comfort in the pleasant surprises—the folks whose kindness outshone that darkness and ugliness–and I put forth renewed effort into cultivating those relationships into stronger friendships, because despite having different taste in music or clothes, or not subscribing to the same parenting or political philosophies as me, all these superficial, formerly important things didn’t matter because these people, these good people, proved themselves with actions, with love and deeds and not just words.

Which brings me to where I was on Saturday night. My community of friends now–my loved ones, my champions, my circle—they cannot protect me or inoculate me from how unkind others can be. I have been ostracized, gossiped about, whispered about and ignored. I have been joked about and mocked. Sometimes by people who once claimed me as “sister”. The sadness creeps in. And now, as my family prepares to welcome a new soul, and we try to cherish this time together before the upheaval of a new addition and all the sleepless nights and divided attention that will come with him(yes him, you are rewarded for reading this much with the knowing that the babe we expect in September will be a wee fella), I am faced with amped-up community scorn. With dropped jaws at the sight of my belly, and diverted eyes. With jokes at my expense on mutual “friends” Facebook pages. With unreturned phone calls from home birth midwives and doulas in my community who I am looking to hire. And so, sometimes, the sadness creeps in. The sadness in knowing that I will birth in a hospital, and that I will not have a chance at the reclaimation of power that came with my previous homebirth. That this baby will be born into a smaller community than his brother and sisters, and maybe have fewer opportunities for  friendship or playmates. But there is comfort that his community, our community, will be stronger than ever, more full of real love and connection, and it is that knowledge that gets me out of bed despite the back spasms, despite the sleeplessness and sometimes sadness, it is that burgeoning community that I want to contribute to–those people I want to share meals with and talk and laugh with into the night. The community of people who do not expect me to feel shame, who rather delight with me at possibility and sometimes cry with me when I am low. Who love me, trust me and believe in me.  The people I believe in, my little village. So Sunday morning, I got out of bed after barely sleeping and I took my kids to the park. We brought deviled eggs and a quart of strawberries and a half gallon of sun tea, and we flew a kite. It was hot, and I had to fight to stay present and not feel sorry for myself, to climb into bed in front of that fan, but I fought and I won. We had a cookout and turned the sprinker on and  I laughed with my kids as we cooled off from the heat. Monday we stayed home, had a bonus “connection day” as a family as it was Memorial Day and enjoyed more sprinkler play, gardening and lazing with books and cold drinks. I sat with my oldest and planned a Midsummer party, and we talked about our circle of friends–how it might be different with this group of folks who aren’t “Waldorf inspired” or “holistic mamas” and how that might be better. How lovely time spent with friends are, how delicious the popovers one friend makes and how great a dancer another is. We talked about how she is getting to know some new friends in this new circle, how nice they are, and how she is so grateful for these new friends and her “old friends–the friends who know all about her sometimes sadness  and love her through it. I told her I feel the same way about my friends, and that I love this new community we’re weaving of disparate parts, all so full of love and  tenderness and talent and kindness. I love this new village, these steadfast true souls, their support and commitment to community that keeps us all going when we’re low. It’s more than enough. It’s love.

The Weekend, or, Strawberry Subtraction

May 21, 2012

Friday morning, the kids and I drove 30 minutes down to the nearest organic strawberry farm to pick up a dozen quart of strawberries to split with a friend. I had intended to use six quarts to make “Sunday jam” for the winter, and at the last minute, picked up two extra quarts because we’d obviously need some to eat out of hand, so left the farm with 14 quarts. We arrived home just 30 minutes later with only 13 quarts left, and promptly gave away another quart to a friend who stopped by after lunch.  We munched on strawberries throughout the afternoon, and had some for dessert after our Friday night warm-weather-it’s-the-weekend cookout. By Saturday morning, we were down to 10 quarts, and I brought six up to my friend before we all headed out the the Waldorf School May Faire, but somehow, between my house and her house, one quart disappeared. There was much merriment and joy at the May Faire, as we enjoyed the sun on our bare shoulders and took in all the excitement and activities. We went to friends for dinner afterwards, where we enjoyed a fabulous meal and conversation that stretched well into the night, while children stayed up past their bedtimes and played outside by flashlight. By the time we got home Saturday night, I knit three rows on my slow-going shawl, and called it a night. Sunday found us up and at ‘em, and headed to the farmer’s market. We brought home the most beautiful, magnificent asparagus, armfuls of kale, spring onions and another quart of strawberries, which we made quick work of while walking through the market. We stopped at the library, which was inexplicably closed, and them headed to the “score store”, our local thrift shop, in pursuit of some summer gear for my ever-growing children. I picked up half a dozen skeins of Lamb’s Pride Bulky yarn for $10, a pair of brand new Chaco sandals for myself and a sweet cotton dress for each of the girls. We headed home to work in the garden, and I had four quarts of strawberries left to do something with. I had imagined a shelf of strawberry jam by weekend’s end, but with only four quarts left, I hulled and halved them and tossed them with sugar and left them to macerate in the refrigerator overnight while I built a teepee for our hops and beans to grow up, and weeded the cucumber and squash bed. We ate the asparagus with lemon cream sauce and pasta, an a salad with spring onions, beets and radishes from the garden, a meal at once heavy and light. After the kids were in bed, I took a bath and I had a few more berries drifing off to sleep while reading “Wildwood”.

This morning we were all awoken by a cardinal singing at 6am, and I got up, made breakfast and climbed back into bed with my knitting while the big kids taught their little sister how to play chess. When they were through, I sat with the little one and worked on some letters and the big kids did something or other involving magnets. They went upstairs to clean up in advance of the vacuum and told me they had at least an hours work to do, whipping their bedrooms and the playroom into shape and so I took that opportunity to make a small batch of strawberry jam. In the hour it took them to clean up their rooms, I folded two loads of laundry and made half of the remaining macerated berries into five half-pints of jam. I only did a half batch, because it takes much longer to get the big pot of water to a boil, and to get the larger quantity of berries to the “jam” stage, and it was perfect. Of course, as soon as they heard the “pop” of the lids, they were begging to open a jar for a “tester” and so I can forsee being down to only four jars by day’s end. I will make another small batch tonight after they are in bed, and since my schedule is clear for Thursday, I intend to head down to pick up another flat of berries for eating and jamming that morning. Then, in the weeks to come, our CSA, which is to the north of us, should have pick-your-own berries for a few weeks, and those berries we’ll eat fresh, since it’s only a 1-2 quart quantity a week there. Some friends were recently talking about how organic strawberries are the Holy Grail of fruits around here, and it’s true. Such a short, sweet season of subtracting strawberries.

Sunshine Supermama Smoothie

May 17, 2012

For several weeks I’ve been starting my day with this delicious, calcium and protein rich smoothie in lieu of my morning coffee—it’s a meal in a glass, rich, creamy, a little tangy and gives me such an energy boost—real energy, not caffeinated frenzy energy. It has grown and changed since I was first introduced to a version of it five years ago, when pregnant with double-o via “Healing Tonics—101 Herbal Concoctions” by Jeanine Pollack, a lovely little book of recipes for teas, tinctures, cordials, oils, glycerites, smoothies and concoctions of all sorts. It’s really taken on a life of it’s own, and I’ve often froze it into smoothie pops for summer morning breakfasts for the kiddos and myself, a really super cool way to start the day.

Ingredients::

About 4-6 oz of Greek yogurt, I use 2% Wallaby Organic plain, though I hate using these little containers, they were on sale at Whole Foods last week, and with a coupon were $.75/each, plus, they’re 17g of protein

Juice from 1-2 oranges, or about 4-6 oz prepared orange juice

1 large peach, fresh or frozen equivalent

1 medium banana (I usually use frozen banana, since I seem to always have some in the freezer and I’m not a super banana bread fan)

2 tbs nutritional yeast (or “nooch” as it’s known around here)

2-3 leaves fresh kale, ribs removed

Blend all ingredients in a fancy high speed blender if you have one, or do as I do and smash everything into a wide mouth mason jar and blend with an immersion blender. The benefit to this technique is all you have to do is screw on a lid with a small hole drilled in it with appropriate jar band, insert a straw and you’ve got a smoothie “to go” with very little clean up!

consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once

May 14, 2012

The sun came out, and we spent the most perfect spring day in a church auditorium, where the kiddos participated in their ballet performance. If I had to spend a sunny Saturday indoors, it was the perfect way to spend it—the performance was joyful and delightful and all the kiddos were so proud of themselves. There was a party afterwards with far too much sugar and white flour, but the rainbow hued, surup-y, marshmallowy sweetness that permiated the room seemed a perfect  setting for such a gathering. I love watching my children dance!

Sunday was Mother’s Day, and I enjoyed such a delightful day of laziness, sunshine, and indulgence—rare for me since I usually feel guilty over “taking it easy”. I lazed in bed til 8, and while my favorite smoothie was made and delivered to me in bed served in a mason jar with a new stainless steel straw. The kiddos crowded in with beautiful handmade cards in hand for “a taste” of my smoothie and delighted in the sensation of a cold, steel straw and I was grateful that there were four straws total, so we wouldn’t fight over them! My “gift” from papa and the kiddos was a freezer full of breakfast burritos, and they had a loud, messy blast making eggs,  sausage and bacon and shredding cheese, straining salsa and wrapping up several dozen burritos ready for the toaster oven for busy mornings. We also made two dozen smoothie pops for the freezer, and mixed up ingredients for breakfast cookies and portioned them into jars to make 2 dozen-ish breakfast cookies as the need arises. I love a gift that keeps on giving! After the epic breakfast cleanu/graceland dance party, we headed to our friendly nearby urban farm/garden center where we picked up a few herb plants to fill in the front garden and mom’s were treated to a free organic chocolate covered local strawberry—a great marketing ploy, since we ended up buying a quart of the overpriced beauties. We headed home and I spent some time knitting in the sunshine while the kiddos and papa planted and played. We had an al fresco dinner of grilled chicken, asparagus and mushrooms with a quinoa pilaf with strawberries and cream for dessert. We walked around the neighborhood until dark, telling stories, laughing and holding hands, and came home to clean the kitchen, was up, dress for bed and read a story. I had gotten a little bit of sun on my arms and my nose, and we all went to sleep with full bellies and happy hearts.

Today, we woke to rain, again. It was the perfect opportunity to recover from a long weekend of too much sugar and not enough sleep, to stay in pajamas and curl up with some books and crafts, but alas, the kids rousted me from bed shortly after papa left for work, and we had a leisurely breakfast together. We did some Ancient Greek stuff, like reciting praise songs to our favorite gods and goddesses and drawing pictures of Mount Olympus and the Trojan horse. They sketched designs for the red clay urns we plan to make when the sun shines again, and I folded the laundry that didn’t magically fold itself on Mother’s Day. We ate lunch, and then headed to my midwife appoinment, where, for once, I didn’t have to wait for over an hour to be seen. Afterward, we had planned to head to a local herbiary, but the rain really began to fall in earnest and we decided to head home to tea and snacks instead. The kids played dress-up, and I debated keeping them home from their last ballet class because they were so deep in play and because I was feeling lazy and wanted a reprieve from driving in the rain, but we decided to go. It was “dance and share” day, where we get to sit in on the class, so I’m especially glad we went. My fella, especially, had a great time dancing and showing off his ballet knowledge and form, and my heart swelled at the sight of two of my dancers, “unsocialized” homeschoolers, shining in the context of a class that requires all the things a traditional classroom does—discipline, patience, following directions, sharing, encouragement of others(do they require that in traditional schools?) and love of learning. While watching them in their performance brought me joy so great I had tears streaming down my face, watching them in class, interacting with their classmates and teacher, brings me confidence, deep satisfaction and lifts my heart to know they are doing something they love, that brings them joy and challenges and a feeling of accomplishment. Our ride home from class always results in the most fascinating conversations, a time where listening to a book on cd, or singing along with pete seeger or dan zanes is replaced with sharing the nuances of class, and it’s delightful to get to witness their experience, get to know a little bit of the personalities of the children they share stories about, the games they reference and bits of French they pick up. I get to watch my big girl in her class on Thursday and will, for sure, take my camera. I really have to get it together with pictures on here anyway, so this will be a great opportunity.

she’s like a rainbow.

May 9, 2012

Today, I did something I never imagined myself doing,– I cast on a shawl for myself. A shawl. Now, i’m not new to this here shawl rodeo, as I have Laura Ingalls obsessed children for whom I’ve made flannel, woven wool and yes, even hand knit shawls, but this time, I cast on for myself. I’ve been wearing a cowl knit from some lovely local alpaca almost every day since October, and wanted something light and spring-y to brighten up the dull, dreary days.(I believe I’ve mentioned the recent relentless rain?) I had been seeing the “oaklet” shawl around the internet, on Ravelry and Pinterest and my interest was piqued.  I had just organized my yarn yesterday and had admired a skein of brightly colored fingering weight I had wound last year and cast on for a pair of soc, a pattern for which the yarn was ill-suited, so I unraveled and put the yarn in storage, casting on the socks in a perfectly-suited-to-the lacy pattern solid brown. Yesterday, I nearly left the skein on my desk to remind myself to look up something special to make with it but decided against it since I had just spent a good chunk of time cleaning and clearing my desk so i packed it away in the yarn armoire with all the other errant, project-less yarn. Then this morning, while perusing Pinterest, the perfect pattern jumped off the screen at me–the oaklet! A shawl! Why not? We did some work together at the table making paper doll Greek gods, read some D’Aulaires  Greek Myths and the big kiddos worked on some math while I cast on. As I sat working on it, I smiled to myself. Never in my life did I imagine myself at 30-something wearing a shawl of any sort. When I was a teenager, I imagined myself a mama, yes, but a hip, urban, edge-y mama with interesting hair and eyeliner and cool shoes, I never imagined I’d spend my days at an old barn wood table, drawing with beeswax crayons and looking like I stepped off the cover of Carole King’s Tapestry or, on a good day, an Incredible String Band album cover. I need a shawl to tuck into my bag for summer days at the beach that stretch into evenings, for evening concerts and firework shows, for covering bare shoulders after too much sun, and as such, I cast on. In rainbow-colored yarn. It’s got to be a reaction to these long gray days, and I think it will look lovely with my mostly black/olive/brown/gray wardrobe, after all, it’s already looking great as I’m clicking away on my rainbow granny shawl with my “still hip, urban and edgey” black fingernails.

thinking pink, feeling gray.

May 8, 2012

A few weeks ago, we planted a dwarf plum tree in our front “yard”, a gift for my birthday in late March, and I was lamenting , rather loudly, that I was needing to water it, and our wee vegetable garden, three times a day to keep it from drying out. April was dry, and unseasonably warm. I tried to look on the bright side, and imagined an early CSA and growing season, dreaming of soon standing in fields of strawberries with sun warmed shoulders, blissfully filling baskets with tender ripe fruit. Alas, May arrived, and with it, rain. Dismal days dressed in layers of wool, so much crueler after the teasing warmth of April. Today ws our “at home” day, baking day, and I would have been perfectly happy staying in my pajamas and puttering around the house. At the kids insistence, however, we got outside early, during our  bread’s first rise, and while it was merely gray and dull, rather than the blacked torrents that came later. We walked to “our spot” along the river, where we watched the sweet, piping goslings follow their surly, honking parents everywhere. We saw red winged blackbirds and sneezed at the lime green dusting of tree pollen coating every surface and drifting up our noses and down our throats, but the kids had spring in their step, help buttercup after buttercup to each others chin, ran around and delighted in it all. I had to drag them home as the rain began to fall, and we arrived just in time to have missed getting caught in the deluge. I brought the blankets and towels in off the clothesline, all only slightly damp, and tumbled them in the dryer. We drank tea, and waited out the second rise of our bread, big kids working on their Greek mythology main lesson, and little one swinging in the hammock and singing softly to herself. I perused my cookbook shelf and some back issues of everyday food looking for inspiration, as I have been having such a hard time with meal planning lately. After coming off a long stretch of sick kiddos wanting nothing but soup for every meal, despite the warm weather, I find myself craving soup after a gray day like today. When I look at my meal plan, I’m hardly inspired to make and eat tempeh tacos with lime slaw and avocados, despite having all the ingredients on hand and it being “taco Tuesday”. No one else is in the mood for soup, at least not for dinner, so I cobble together a pot of sweet potato corn chowder for lunch while I preheat the oven for bread, basking in the temporary warmth of the kitchen, and devour my soup, standing in the kitchen while the air is thick with the smell of baking bread. I will suck it up and crunch on tacos for dinner later, as the familiarity of the meal plan is something of a tether for our family, providing rhythm and, even, excitement—taco Tuesday! Pizza on Friday! Cook-out on the weekends in months without “R”s! It is May. There will be color again, more than todays endless gray and the row upon row of greens in the garden—the kale, chard and cabbage being joined by spinach, salad greens, radish and beet tops. Our farm order today includes rhubarb, our radishes are almost ready for harvest, and tomorrow’s plan includes making chive blossom vinegar, so despite the cold, the rain and the gray, tomorrow, there will be pink! I hope the pinks bring some meal inspiration, i’m ready to feed a spring fever, especially after “starving” this cold.