“It is right that men should have houses, right that they should have land, right that they should have laws to protect the land; but all these things are only machinery to make leisure for the labouring soul. The house is only a stage set up by stage carpenters for the acting of what Mr. J. B. Yeats has called ‘the drama of the home.’
“All the most dramatic things happen at home, from being born to being dead. What a man thinks about these things is his life; and to substitute for them a bustle of electioneering and legislation is to wander about among screens and pulleys on the wrong side of pasteboard scenery; and never to act the play. And that play is always a miracle play; and the name of its hero is Everyman.”
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.
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 allaboutbirds.com 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!
When Daughter Kate and her family arrived, we soon established a tradition of drinking smoothies in the afternoon, on the sunny patio. Raj especially liked the thick one I made with mango, ice, rice protein and pineapple juice concentrate. Then there was chocolate banana. And strawberry.
He hadn’t seen the playhouse in six months, and was quite pleased.
Rigo celebrated his first birthday, and he was pleased, too.
Raj sings pretty much all through the day, and he carries a tune awfully well for a two-year-old. I love having Raffi and every children’s folk song wafting through the house and garden.
By the way, out there, a hollyhock whose seeds I planted several years ago is blooming for the first time. [It’s Black Currant Whirl from Baker Creek seeds.] It’s in a very out-of-the way spot behind the mock orange, and grew giant buds before I ever noticed. Then today, this!
I went to church today for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Blessed Feast! Our parish is not open yet on Sunday mornings; that is, we aren’t able to be in the building except for a short time when we file through to receive the sacrament. But because this was a weekday Liturgy, not a large crowd was expected, and we could stand through the service at an appropriate distance from one another. I was an hour late because I’ve been busy with other things than keeping track of the service schedule that’s been changing a lot lately. It was still quite a blessing.
I visited the icon of Saint Isadora, whose message I know that I always need, but never more than these days and months we’ve had lately. And what a gorgeous flower surround for the icon of the saints of the day.
Now that the garden is growing, every day some brilliant color or flower jumps out at me. The pansies I have scattered around in the asparagus bed, irises and poppies and the dear plum trees, which never looked so sweet. I walked all around them to find the best presentation.
Today a handywoman named Julie sanded my playhouse. I was surprised at how thorough a job she was able to do with the mighty power sander. Now I must seal it up against next winter’s weather. It lost its little dormer decoration and I’m thinking of having a church friend stencil something on the front to restore that cuteness — or repair the dormer piece.
I worked outside a little in the garden myself and wondered why the peas are so late; they only now have a few blossoms. I’m afraid they have some kind of wilt as well. One of the planter boxes has nothing but parsley – and weeds – in it, both trying to go to flower and seed, but I found quite a bit of parsley that is still as sweet to the taste as the plum blossoms are to the eyes. And things blooming in the greenhouse, cold and damp as it is.
Since we pruned the echium correctly last fall, it has sprouted ten stalks! Later I’ll show you its history, but enough to say right now that the first year it had three, and the second year only one, because of me not knowing how to prune it back. I can’t envision what it will look like when they start getting tall and covered with a thousand flowers.
The pink clusters are hanging like jewels on the native currant. On the left, one plant seems to have some dead branches. And it looks like I should sand that bench, too!
The most delightful thing right now must be the bugloss, or Anchusa officinalis, which I had planted in a pot on the patio last fall. It’s in the same genus as borage, and probably forget-me-nots; just starting to bloom, and the main reason I wanted to share the garden with you today.
In Washington and Oregon this wildflower is a noxious weed. 😦 “Common bugloss is a threat to agriculture. It invades alfalfa fields and pastures. The fleshy stalks can cause baled hay to mold.” But it is as popular with the bees as borage. It likes a little shade, which is why I have it in a pot with begonias on the patio. I hope the bees find it soon!