Summer’s remnants

tomatoes in the gardenOur summer garden limped along this year, started late and plagued by under-watering (I couldn’t stem my drought fears, not even for veggies, and as we drift into fall our tomato plants are as dry and golden as our once-green lawn). Our exposure on the veggie boxes is not ideal, and our small gardeners prefer digging and whacking over, say, weeding and pruning. We managed to harvest red and gold and the occasional green tomato, chiles galore, huge handfuls of basil and thyme and cilantro, even a solitary yellow squash. Nothing like the careless, constant overproduction of our garden-from-before, but still something. We got our hands dirty, we watched things grow, we understood first-hand the crumbly, deep dryness of the droughtContinue reading

What flowers grow

flowering weedsThe boys have been intent on reminding me this week that THOSE ARE NOT WEEDS! They are FLOWERS! Their insistence comes after I went on a bit of a rampage clearing out a flower bed and into the green bin went a heap of their beloved sour grass. But they are not alone in their enthusiasm; at our market this past Saturday I met a farmer whose entire acreage is given over to what grows there of its own volition. She had strawberries for sale, tiny red ones. In big buckets were curvy-stemmed, three-foot-tall gaggles of weeds. Or flowers, if you’d like. With thoughts of my guys, I brought home a bunch. Continue reading

This one

citrusToday was my co-op day for Jacob’s class. I was working outside, at the round brown table under the big juniper tree, helping the kids make flowers out of enormous coffee filters and green pipe cleaners. They painted them with liquid water colors – vibrant springtime greens and pinks and oranges, yellows and purples, bright turquoise. Jacob and a handful of other kids concentrated on their blooms as his teacher and I watched. “I love the colors,” I said.

“I picked them for spring,” she said.  Continue reading

I see a path

sproutsMy junior year of college, I went running and locked myself out of my apartment. Normally a hassle, it became a crisis because it happened to be the night before an early morning flight to Seattle; we were headed north in about ten hours, for Thanksgiving with my mom’s family. My roommate was already gone, my landlord nowhere to be found, and I didn’t even have a jacket with me, much less my car keys. Continue reading

Bound for anywhere

boysOn Fridays, we are bound for anywhere. Today, flock after flock of brown pelicans paced us as we headed first for lunch with my dad. Steady down the coast, we discussed directional cardinality, and left and right. (That is, Lucas pointed out that his left shoe is always his left shoe, and Jacob noted that left is always left, but left can also be north or south or east or west.) We talked about why the compass in the car wasn’t broken, even though it said for a while that we were driving west when Santa Cruz is south of us, and we wondered about how compasses work. (Magnetism and the poles, or something? Oh, right. I had mostly forgotten.)

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A bit of a cheat

Lucas feetSometimes when I find that I can’t work through the words in my head, that I’m stretching to sift them onto a page, I put away my pen. A walk helps. But often I turn to someone else’s work. It’s a bit of a cheat, maybe. But depending on how I feel stuck, I have a medicine chest of writers close at hand, writers who can remind me of the many ways people make magic with words. In a lonely business, their voices can bring me back round to my own.  Continue reading