Playing under sepia skies.

Soldier’s family and I are having such a good time, I think most of us forget for long periods about the pervasive fires and the smoky skies. My dear people arrived four days ago, and we’ve been as busy as beavers ever since. The boys are much louder than beavers. There’s something about three boys arriving in a family in less than six years that creates a force field of extra decibels and energy output. I have no doubt that in the balance the constructive energies are increasing!

The first day we did the creek walk, and tasted fennel in all stages of its growth, from the newest fronds to the early seeds. The boys learned about Queen Anne’s spot of blood, and how horsetails break so satisfyingly clean at their joints. I learned the name of a new plant, White Sweetclover.

For two days we did lots of chores in the garden and around the house.

My playhouse has been lovingly fortified by Soldier since I got it used five years ago; back then he put a floor on it and placed it on a foundation he’d made. He sealed it against the rain, and repaired the door when it was falling apart. This week he recreated the little decoration above the door, that used to have red plastic matching the roof. Now it has red wood shingles matching the new roof, and I don’t think there is any remaining plastic that can peel and get brittle and break. If ashes weren’t falling in the back yard I’m sure little Clara would be playing house.

Liam picked many figs that were hard for me to get to, because it’s easy for him to wriggle among the hedges of yarrow and oregano, into the tangle of fig branches, to find the fruits that are drooping and black. Often they have a bird peck taken out of them, so we cut that part off and eat the rest. He and Laddie helped me deadhead the echinacea and one remaining lavender.

The third day, off to the beach! It was an exploratory mission; we couldn’t know for sure from the air quality apps if it would be worse than inland, but we hoped not, and when we got out of the car it was comfortable enough to breathe, so we stayed all afternoon. It was Clara’s first beach experience. She was game for everything.

The boys used all their mental and physical powers in sport with the surf. I who was never much of an athlete am awed by the quick reflexes of one, and the way another takes on the waves as a sort of whole-body interactive science project, learning how to work with the crashing and pushing and keep his balance.

Pacific sand crabs

Joy found a sea plant washed up and called to Brodie, “Here’s a rope!” He came running and gathered it up, flung it out, dragged it all over.

Soldier made a castle and hours later we waited for the waves to slowly encroach. The shorebirds entertained us, digging with their bills that were nearly as long as their stilty legs. At home later, Soldier and I with the help of Cornell’s identified them as Marbled Godwits.

Two things hard to understand: How late it was, when we started home. Maybe the sunlight’s never changing all day confused our inner clocks. The other strange thing was the color of our pictures when we looked at them later.

I’m reading to the boys Along Came a Dog by Meindert DeJong. It has ten chapters, so I told them that we should try to read two chapters at each sitting, so as to guarantee that we finish in the nine days they will be here, since we can’t read every day. Today we finished the sixth chapter, and in the middle of the session they started playing with Legos while they listened, and building figures to represent the main characters in the story.

The story starts with the man, a flock of white chickens, and the little red hen. He drives off to work every day. And then, along comes a big black dog — that he doesn’t want. I would like to give you more of a review of the book and tell you about our intense engagement with the story, and the things we talk about. But I am way too tired to do that right now, and I must rest and store up strength, and be ready to meet the force field tomorrow morning. Good night!

17 thoughts on “Playing under sepia skies.

  1. HI dear one.. this is Merri in MInnesota and love the sepia skies.. and your beautiful family . It is just what I needed tonight. you are amazing to post this beautiful post after a day like you had.. but I see you are energized to do it all with such love. Thank you and God bless you .. wonder what you cooked for that gang…. bet some delicious goodies.. Sleep in heaven dear one.. rejoicing with you in health and love and children .. Love from my heart, Merri

    On Fri, Sep 11, 2020 at 10:39 PM Gladsome Lights wrote:

    > GretchenJoanna posted: ” Soldier’s family and I are having such a good > time, I think most of us forget for long periods about the pervasive fires > and the smoky skies. My dear people arrived four days ago, and we’ve been > as busy as beavers ever since. The boys are much louder ” >


  2. What a wonderful time you’ve described, full of spent energy and curiosity about the world. The fires are truly dreadful – the smoke from California, Oregon, and Washington is covering our skies these days and supposed to worsen over the weekend. We have the same sepia tones as you do. Lord, have mercy.


  3. How wonderful to have your family with you! I am glad you have been able to have a good time together, yet am horrified at your sepia skies – the smoke must be horrendous and so widespread.


    1. Yes, early on one could go on a short trip to the coast or a few hours away, to get some relief, but this week, I guess one would have to leave the three western states altogether to be confident of blue skies.


  4. I love that you have been having a beautiful time with your family. And what a handsome family and such fun. I’ve been loving every single moment, every word. I’m glad you are far enough from the fires. Yes, sepia skies. But you are safe and with those you love.


  5. As others have already said, it’s good that you can have wonderful family times in spite of the smoke and haze. They do give the pictures an interesting appearance. We also have the thick haze and the sun cannot break through it.

    I’m so thankful for the energy I had when my 3 sons were little. I took that energy for granted. Now I marvel at how it was.


  6. My gosh, how scary. But I suppose as Christians, we must try to live each day as if it were our last, since anything unexpected can happen anywhere (this year has shown us that!) But, you do seem to be having such a lovely time in spite of it. I’m glad. 🙂


  7. The contrast of the sepia skies and the normalcy of your visit with your family reminds me of how quickly we all get used to the state of things – wearing masks, cleaning ash off the porch furniture every morning, all the things on the news. I suppose one day things will be back to “normal” but what that looks like is relative.


  8. One of my favorite books. I have a collection of Dejong books. I love his writing style. Not to mention his story telling. I love your little magic play house. I am so tired of smoke. That is right I think, I feel like my time clock has been messed up since we have not had sun in so long. Today looks like another Mordor sky.

    I am so glad you have had your family with you. It looks wonderful at the beach. It looked like you had it all to yourself.

    My computer broke and now it’s fixed. Have a wonderful day.


  9. Our Minnesota skies were looking like that a few days ago. The sun was orange behind a think veil of smoke. It seems to have cleared since then. That smoke really travels. I hope you’re enjoying your family visit. Little boys are a source of unlimited energy! My two next-door grandboys are always finding new ways to get into mischief or hurt themselves. Keeps me practicing prayer! Hugs and prayers.


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