This is my garden in summer. These photos were all taken between the very end of May and July 7.
This is, of course, the very best of it. We are having a terrible drought in California, and I’ve been conserving water. I’ve not pictured my yellowed lawn or the roses with burnt petals. I’ve not pictured the patches of bare dirt or my lack of much-needed mulch (where does it go?). I haven’t pictured how my hydrangeas have 90 percent fewer flowers than usual. Naturally, I don’t photograph the plants that perish. I kill things all the time.
This is the best that I can show in this hot time of year.
But I want to show it because I love it and because I have worked very hard over the last 11 years turning into this third-acre of weeds and potholes into my oasis, my home. This is my English garden, California-style, and infused with all the flare of a Brazilian Carnival that I can muster. This is what my dreams look like at night. A jungle of color. A rush of blossoms. A heaving of growth and urgency. A riot of shapes and textures.
I can’t explain why this garden is important to me, except to say, this is how I surround myself and my family with beauty.
My sweet 12-year-old left this morning for his first sleepaway camp experience. He and six friends from his school (most from his same class) left for Camp Winthers, which is in the mountains not too far from our city. We are very excited for him and we’re sure he’s going to have a wonderful time. He had a little trouble sleeping last night because he was anxious, but I don’t think he’ll be feeling that way for long. I think he looks a little guarded in this photo.
This is the same summer camp that Ian went to when he was a boy, and later, as a teen, he worked as a camp counselor there. He assures us that they will keep Lucas so busy with fun activities he won’t have time to be homesick. Ian has already send Lucas a care package so it will reach him before the end of the week.
He will canoe, hike, play, learn, swim, and explore all week. He’ll have no little brother or mama or dad nagging him. He’ll be with some of his best buddies for five whole days.
I’m very grateful that Lucas got to go on two week-long trips earlier this year with his class and teacher. They were great practice for this first opportunity to be without parents or a familiar teacher. My son is a kind, sensible, competent guy, who has great friends, and who makes friends easily. I am pleased he’s getting the chance to stretch his wings in this way.
It was a slow day for us, this Independence Day. We were all tired from staying up too late the night before with friends. We opted to stay home, watch silly “Independence Day,” grill burgers, and eat homemade strawberry and blueberry cobbler. We burned some money in the form of fireworks, and then hit the hay. There was food and fire, and the boys were satisfied. And it was enough.
Edit 7/6/2014 [I've linked up to my friend's Slow Summer Series at Little Acorn Learning. If you and your family are enjoying peaceful, slow moments this summer, join us here to share and inspire others to slow down and savor life.]
Happy Independence Day, my friends! We are wishing you safe, fun, and exciting celebrations today. May you be surrounded by your loves, and may you contemplate for a just a moment or two how very blessed we are to live in this nation of high ideals like freedom, equality, peace, opportunity, and love. However imperfectly we achieve these, may we never, never cease striving for them.
I’m feeling sleepy and sentimental, so I offer up these three shots from previous Independence Days (2002, 2008, and 2011).
And now I’m off to make a blueberry/strawberry cobbler. Because 4th of July.
We visited the Tunnel Mills campground in the Tahoe National Forest over the summer solstice weekend. A bunch of friends came and we had a wonderful group campsite all to ourselves. I never managed to have my camera with me when we were playing and rock hopping down by the gorgeous creek, so you’ll just have to take my word for it: it was a truly spectacular, magical place of huge, broad leaves, water snakes, clear, cold rushing water, warm boulders, dancing sunlight, and a million shades of green.
We had our Midsummer bonfire (which I wanted so badly), plenty of relaxation, games of Magic the Gathering and poker, reading, music and singing, shared potato chips, and friendship.
It was a little too chilly at night for my taste, but the warmth that these fine people bring to our lives makes it well worth it.
My Midsummer blessing for you is that you find the people who most uplift you, inspire you to be your best self, who understand you, encourage you, and delight you … and then hang on to them. Learn to be the very best friend you can be because love and connection, joy, trust, and forgiveness is what this one perfect life is all about. And we are all still learning.
Just after school let out a week ago, we took off for the mountains. Originally we were going to stay a few days in Tahoe, but some work obligations shifted around and we ended up changing our plans and making just a day trip to Valhalla Renaissance Faire at Camp Richardson in South Lake Tahoe. As we drove to the Faire, I mentioned to Ian that I’d never before stopped at one of the tiny turnouts at the summit on the edge of cliff a couple thousand feet above the Tahoe valley floor. Before I knew it, he was pulling over so we could look over the edge.
Asher wouldn’t get out of the car, but the rest of us got to look down into the valley and at the beautiful blue of Lake Tahoe off in the distance.
I had a Groupon for the Faire admission, but I have to say, it was almost more trouble than it was worth; we had a hell of a time getting online to the Groupon to get into the Faire. Next time I’ll have to print the damn coupon instead of relying on the phone. Maybe it’s my carrier—Credo—but I have a heck of a time using the Internet on my smart phone up there.
Anyway …. the Ren Faire was super fun and the boys enjoyed it. The most spectacular feature was the jousting by Imperial Knights. Great show, beautiful horses.
This fellow has been doing his show Fowl Tales with his macaws for years and years. Gypsy has been with him 42 years.
Unsurprisingly, Lucas was fascinated by all the weapons sellers’ wares. Like father, like son. I could see Ian sizing up the sellers based on his own extensive experience hawking swords for Mayhawk armory at Black Point, Navato, back in our college days. Spending the day at the Faire was an interesting trip down memory lane.
Asher found this cool giant bubble-making booth.
We saw the show of Captain Jack Spareribs. Ventriloquism!
Lucas found the archery to be a little disappointing. The bows weren’t up to the quality he’s become accustomed to.
We ate yummy Faire food and drank expensive beers and wandered about. We enjoyed seeing Nicole and Bryn and RJ, whom we almost never get to see. The boys were tempted by the real and toy weapons and I admired the woodcarving and the jewelry. So, yeah. It was a pretty normal and fun Faire experience—a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a 78 degree day when it was 105 degrees at home!
I’ve decided to do a challenge that I’ve just made up for myself. I’m going to eat 100 salads this summer (it’s got a nice ring to it: #100saladsummer). I don’t diet very well. I am totally committed one moment and then, as soon as I’m hungry, my commitment usually vanishes. So usually I don’t diet. Which is a fine trend that I don’t really care to try to break. And I don’t have time to research the latest food thing. But I started thinking it would be better to eat fewer burritos (my weakness) and more salads. So. This.
These are my rules for myself:
1. They are meal salads, which means they can have meat or other protein or fat or dairy or carbs like croutons or quinoa, but they must be mostly vegetables.
It’s a celebration around here. There was a big class party for the sixth grade. The first graders had a swim party yesterday. They are done for the year, and are dreaming of lazy days of pure fun. In honor of this special day, the last day of school, I present this evocative poem by Whittier.
Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim’s jaunty grace;
From my heart I give thee joy,—
I was once a barefoot boy!
Prince thou art,—the grown-up man
Only is republican.
Let the million-dollared ride!
Barefoot, trudging at his side,
Thou hast more than he can buy
In the reach of ear and eye,—
Outward sunshine, inward joy:
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!
Oh for boyhood’s painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor’s rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools,
Of the wild bee’s morning chase,
Of the wild-flower’s time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole’s nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the ground-nut trails its vine,
Where the wood-grape’s clusters shine;
Of the black wasp’s cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay,
And the architectural plans
Of gray hornet artisans!
For, eschewing books and tasks,
Nature answers all he asks;
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks,
Part and parcel of her joy,—
Blessings on the barefoot boy!
Oh for boyhood’s time of June,
Crowding years in one brief moon,
When all things I heard or saw,
Me, their master, waited for.
I was rich in flowers and trees,
Humming-birds and honey-bees;
For my sport the squirrel played,
Plied the snouted mole his spade;
For my taste the blackberry cone
Purpled over hedge and stone;
Laughed the brook for my delight
Through the day and through the night,
Whispering at the garden wall,
Talked with me from fall to fall;
Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel pond,
Mine the walnut slopes beyond,
Mine, on bending orchard trees,
Apples of Hesperides!
Still as my horizon grew,
Larger grew my riches too;
All the world I saw or knew
Seemed a complex Chinese toy,
Fashioned for a barefoot boy!
Oh for festal dainties spread,
Like my bowl of milk and bread;
Pewter spoon and bowl of wood,
On the door-stone, gray and rude!
O’er me, like a regal tent,
Cloudy-ribbed, the sunset bent,
Purple-curtained, fringed with gold,
Looped in many a wind-swung fold;
While for music came the play
Of the pied frogs’ orchestra;
And, to light the noisy choir,
Lit the fly his lamp of fire.
I was monarch: pomp and joy
Waited on the barefoot boy!
Cheerily, then, my little man,
Live and laugh, as boyhood can!
Though the flinty slopes be hard,
Stubble-speared the new-mown sward,
Every morn shall lead thee through
Fresh baptisms of the dew;
Every evening from thy feet
Shall the cool wind kiss the heat:
All too soon these feet must hide
In the prison cells of pride,
Lose the freedom of the sod,
Like a colt’s for work be shod,
Made to tread the mills of toil,
Up and down in ceaseless moil:
Happy if their track be found
Never on forbidden ground;
Happy if they sink not in
Quick and treacherous sands of sin.
Ah! that thou couldst know thy joy,
Ere it passes, barefoot boy!
It’s been more than three months since we returned from our week in Los Angeles in February. It was magical in all kinds of ways. I wish I’d written about it sooner, but life has been so complex and full.
We started with a trip to the ScienCenter in L.A.
It’s a beautiful museum.
We got to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour in person! We knew it would be cool, but we didn’t realize how moving it would be to be in the presence of a real spaceship! It completed 25 missions into space, including the first service mission to the Hubble Space Telescope and the first mission to add a U.S.-built component to the International Space Station.
I cried when I saw the photo of the Challenger crew. I remember exactly where I was when I learned of the disaster as a child.
We also saw an IMAX movie about the International Space Station. Such an enormous achievement! It gives me some hope for humanity. We learned a lot about how the astronaut/scientists live aboard the station, and the work they’re doing there. We learned that the Russians have a very sweet and simple tradition. They honor each cosmonaut with the planting of a tree. (Google “cosmonaut grove” or “cosmonaut trees” to see some cool photos.)
We also got to visit the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, just across the campus, which has a great dinosaur exhibit. And we caught a gem and mineral exhibit too.
There’s a hallway where you can walk past the paleontologists in a lab, working on fossils. Very cool!
The Natural History Museum also has those weird taxidermied animal dioramas, with full-scale animals set in scenes depicting their natural habitats. They are fascinating and strange at the same time.
And we caught a gem and mineral exhibit there, too. Asher really loves the crystals.
This was just our first full day in LA. The next three days we spent at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure park.
Hello! Thanks for visiting! I'm Sara, a freelance editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.
Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.