Lately, wildflowers sprout in Piper’s butterfly garden. Baby lettuces form their first true leaves in a raised bed. A plot of earth surrounded by bricks waits to be tended and made ready for seeds of all sorts: radish, eggplant, watermelon, sunflower. Carrots, tomatoes, beets, and peas. Sweet sugar snap peas.
Inside, Rowan pulls himself along wood floors and peeks into book baskets. He discovers his surroundings with such pleasure. The rumbling dishwasher encourages fits of laughter. Finding his way into the hallway fills him with both surprise and delight. He searches our faces for approval. He is an explorer on a very important mission to discover uncharted Domestic territory. Sometimes, though, just when he thinks he is on the brink of a dangerous and exciting new discovery, he finds he is suddenly brought to a curious land called Play Pen, which is a bit boring but safe, at least.
Also near book bins and shelves hides the elusive Piper, who you may catch reading if you are quiet. You must be quiet because any noise will excite this curious girl into a whirlwind of activity, which distracts her from Important Work. Well, it looks like Important Work to me anyway. Lately she carries a book tucked under her arm wherever we go. Sometimes she carries a pen and notebook; I find such beautiful and interesting drawings within.
We spend many days outside, basking in alternating crisp and sunny weather. Florida is still deciding whether or not it is truly Spring. The other day at the park Piper flew her kite. At first she furrowed her brows in frustration when it would return earthbound, but she soon found the hang of flying, feeling the wind against her face and running along the grassy field with the kite trailing high in the air behind her. Meanwhile, Rowan ventured to the edges of Blanket territory to pull up grass and attempt digging fingers into anthills and grubby earth. Attempt, because he quickly found himself back on Blanket before he could really discover much. Better luck next time?
Daddy is the tireless Music Man, who keeps busy with teaching but inspires shouts of delight when he walks through the front door after a long day. Everyone wants to cling to him — Piper throws her arms around his waist (she is so tall now), Rowan tugs at his beard from his home nestled in Daddy’s arms, and Mommy gives tired kisses all before he gets to settle himself back home. We are a naughty bunch.
The house is loud and then quiet, loud and then quiet throughout the day. I relish the quiet and sneak couch and book time. A Mary Oliver poem. A few pages in a memoir or cookbook. A few chores, completed with satisfaction. Other times I collapse onto the cushions — or anyplace soft — and guiltily consume vast amounts of Gilmore Girls on my teeny phone while Rowan naps or Daddy plays with both children. He is the best husband and father.
The kitchen has become a space of hard (though pleasurable) work. The shifts in our days are marked by our time there and in the dining room. Inevitably, we wake up with some dishes to do. Such is life with small children. Piper has learned to eat with gusto all sort of food from frittata made with potatoes and bitter greens to sweet, jammy strawberry pie dolloped with cold coconut cream. Rowan also loves to eat, and though I make most of his food from scratch, when I am tired I am so thankful for jarred baby food. He snaps his mouth down on spoonfuls of pureed carrots, sweet potatoes, pears, avocado, oatmeal, prunes, bananas. Not so much peas, but then he’s like his sister and Daddy when it comes to peas, who don’t eat much of the stuff either.
We strive for meals around the table. We have a taper candle we like to light and I love to watch it melt down to nothing after many dinners together, because then I know we have succeeded in our efforts toward togetherness. Sometimes, though, dinner is short and wherever we can eat it. We are a work in progress. The Instant Pot my parents bought for me for Christmas is a big help, though, because it makes dinner (and lots of it) without much effort on my part, and keeps it warm until we are ready to eat. I’m so thankful for my little helper, as I have come to think of her. Will has Liberty (his VW) and I have my faithful IP! Also, more and more Piper will help me in the kitchen — though I don’t force her (I want her to enjoy cooking, after all) so I am grateful for her help when I get it as well. She’s so sweet.
Well, my legs are a bit numb as I have a baby sprawled across my lap as I write this. He’s beginning to stir so I feel it must be time to go. It’s such a relief to get some writing in. As always, I hope to visit this blog more often.
Hope all my readers are well — is anyone still out there? Leave me a comment if you are! Also, I’m on Instagram more these days so feel free to follow me. My username is the_wrens_nest_