Tag Archives: nature

How Does Your Garden Grow?

All little kids know that crashing your parents’ bedroom first thing in the morning is inexplicably awesome. When I was that age, I couldn’t wait to invade my parents’ room to get my first hugs of the morning and snuggle. My mom set up a password system for me, though: she’d say, “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” And my response: “With silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row” — this in a certain half-singing way. If it wasn’t just right, I had to re-do it in order to get my pass to enter.

Of course, gardens are an all too familiar part of my reading life, starting with Adam and Eve, moving to The Secret Garden, and most recently in Standing at the Crossroads. But up until recently, how actual gardens grow in my life is not well; my black thumbs have killed successfully just about anything that comes from a seed, including one or two cacti (!).  The only green item that survived my care was some lucky bamboo purchased for my first apartment, and it lived on for at least seven years before our move to Alaska.  (Maybe the bamboo and I had a special Asian connection?) Continue reading


Breaking Trail

This weekend  Husband and I were up at Skiland. All winter he has been dying to go downhill skiing — one of his most favorite activities in the world — and I always appreciate going up to his parents’ house, where I can vegetate happily as needed. I am definitely more of an aprés-ski kind of girl; fireplaces and hot chocolate always sound far more enjoyable than hurling myself down a mountain on sticks. But Saturday was too beautiful of a day to stay inside, given the fresh powdery snow and real sunshine up on the hill. So while Husband went skiing, I tried out snow shoes for the first time. They look strange, sort of like awkwardly-shaped tennis rackets, but the design made sense once my feet were strapped in. And then we — Husband’s mom, MJ (her neighbor), Sounder pup, another dog, and I — went off on a snowy walk.

My feet in snow shoes before we left.

We stayed mostly on a familiar trail, one I’ve hiked many times in the summer and during blueberry picking season. I was in awe of the quietness that the deep snow provided, and at the same time I had to smile at the dogs, who continued to romp along gleefully even when the snow was above their heads. For a while they were out in front, clearing a pseudo-path for us, until there was an executive decision made to veer right in order to circle back home from the main road. MJ bravely took a hard right turn and promptly sank into snow that came up above our knees. Even the dogs seemed hesitant to keep going when they saw her. Our ski poles, which had been helpful up to that point, just pushed powder around as we tried to get some leverage. But upon her sinking into the deep snow, MJ only laughed, looked back at us, and said something like, “Wow, this is a little harder than before, huh?”

She was right, as it was clearly much tougher having to break new trail through the snow and much slower going overall, but it wasn’t any less fun and the day didn’t seem any less bright because we were starting to work up more of a sweat. If anything, it felt like more of an accomplishment once we made it down to the road, where the snow was packed down and we could go at a more regular pace.

Maybe I make too much of moments like this in my effort to pay more attention to the goings-on of my life. Regardless, as we were traipsing along, I thought about the mixture of uncertainty tinged with excitement when we weren’t quite sure how far ahead the road was. I thought about how much more do-able it all seemed with our merry crew, as opposed to being completely solo. I thought about the fact that I was still figuring out how to work my snow shoes efficiently even as we kept moving along. Yet another “this-is-how-life-works” realization to wrap up my week. I am more convinced than ever that each of us, in our respective ways, is either on the verge of breaking new trail or in the midst of doing so already. It’s very possible that we are already mid-adventure but might be too busy looking down at our feet to notice that we are moving toward something better. Or too busy being scared of the unknown — trying something new, going in a different direction than usual — that we keep doing the same things while hoping for an improved result. Me? I tend to be loyal to a fault, and while that serves me well in the land of relationships with loved ones, it has not always helped me move on easily, even when that’s the right thing to do. Yet I find that the more I am able to venture off the proverbial beaten path, the more I am able to figure out what I am actually capable of doing and being.

Much as I would rather be somewhere warmer or closer to my family & friends, I am understanding more clearly — practically on a daily basis — how important it is to continue to break new trails in this section of my life. And to take the time to enjoy it even when it is hard work.