Country Girl in the City

Hello Farmgirls!

I hope this finds you well as we all continue to dive deeper into the green of spring and heat of summer.  I am in the second half of a whirlwind visit to the Midwest with my family and have been enjoying watching the bright new greens transform into their slightly more permanent, deeper hues.  The trip started with beautiful blossoms on the apple, cherry, plum and lilac trees and is finishing with some of the most lusciously green and huge-leaved maples and oaks I’ve seen in a very long time!  When we get back to Alaska, we’ll get to experience it all again.  How lucky are we?

Country road, take me home...(driveway to my mom's farm in MN)

Country road, take me home…(driveway to my mom’s farm in MN)

Birch buds starting in AK before we left.

Birch buds starting in AK before we left.

Walking on Sunshine! Don't it feel good?

Walking on Sunshine! Don’t it feel good?

The unfolding of nature is something that is often taken for granted. Think about it–how many springs do each of us really get to experience and be part of?  For some, it is far too few, for the lucky ones maybe 90?  That really isn’t very many!  After leaving our little hideaway in the woods to live in the “big city” (ha!  Anchorage is hardly big…), I’ve been concerned with a disconnect with nature.  We recently sold and took down the yurt, further ingraining that disconnect.  It was hard, but it was a good form of closure.  This disconnect combined with the ethereal nature of pregnancy, childbirth and taking care of an infant has left me feeling a bit “ungrounded.”  Luckily, there are a few easy remedies for this!

Trilliums in spring!

Trilliums in spring!

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Goodbye yurt! You will be dearly missed.  We have so many amazing memories from our yurt days...

Goodbye yurt! You will be dearly missed. We have so many amazing memories from our yurt days…

As a rural girl, living in a city can be tough.  There are days when my body doesn’t make any actual connection with soil.  We are literally in a concrete jungle!  There is asphalt, concrete or tar covering many surfaces that were once forest or field.  Some people are just fine with this barrier from Mother Nature, I am not one of them!  As the wise Aldo Leopold said, “There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot.”  I am most definitely one who cannot.

Asphalt shadows

Asphalt shadows

Ladybug hiding in debris on the edge or a parking lot. Wildness is everywhere.

Ladybug hiding in debris on the edge or a parking lot. Wildness is everywhere.

Bird watching just south of Anchorage.

Bird watching just south of Anchorage.

To be fair, I don’t need extreme wilderness–just some good dirt to interact with in some way.  With the weather warming up, we’ve made a pretty big effort to get back in touch with nature and our country sides.  We’ve found some escapes within the city and without, and of course we’ve maintained our connection to our country friends.

An escape to hike in the wilds

An escape to hike in the wilds

One of my favorite new endeavors involves playgrounds!  I have a complicated relationship with playgrounds.  They are SO fun and provide diverse opportunities for various actions, movements and activities for kids and adults.  We can swing, slide, run, jump, observe, twirl, climb and yell!  Still, even with the variety, playgrounds are stifling in a way.  There are “proper” ways to use playground equipment.  The imagination can run, but not as wildly as in a wholly unstructured environment like the forest or mountains.  However, I still love playgrounds. Since we live in a city with over 200 parks (amazing!), the girls and I are attempting to visit at least one new park every week.  It has been so fun so far!  Many of the playgrounds are Alaska themed and the surrounding trails and fields provide ample space for exploring with little ones.  It has been a fun goal to work towards, and it allows us some time away from the concrete jungle!

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A suburban playground in MN

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Our neighborhood playground is very cool! These are meant to look like fireweed.

To really escape the hustle and bustle of the city, we head north to our old stomping grounds in Palmer, Alaska.  I will be working at Sun Circle Farm again this summer, albeit only two days per week.  Before heading to the lower 48, I prepped some beds that were ready for planting and got in our first succession of cutting greens!  Other folks planted peas and the first succession of root veggies.  Very exciting!  I felt amazing after a day in the freshly tilled soil, flipping through seed packets and listening to the migrating sandhill cranes.  The girls love heading back to Palmer, too, because that’s where most of their friends live.  Country play dates are the best!

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My farmer friend’s little baby quinoa starts!

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Two day old piglets. Mama piggy “Bliss” was a natural for her first litter of ten!

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Love this pic! Friends! Happiness! One of the high tunnels is going up in the background.

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Grass, ladders, fences, open blue sky…

While leaving the city is great, sometimes we can’t or don’t want to!  There are really fun and vibrant things about living in cities–access to more fairs and events, great dining, good people watching, museums and other fun activities.  However, with all of these events and people in a concentrated area, things can get a bit dirty and covered in litter.  A few weeks ago we decided to have a “neighborhood day.”  We picked up litter around our little alley way, ate at the Mongolian restaurant on our block and visited the playground in our neighborhood.  We live in one of the stereotypically “scary” or unsafe neighborhoods in Anchorage: Fairview.  After six months here (six months!?), it can feel a teeny bit dangerous at times, but for the most part it is just a part of town with a lower socio-economic status than others.  The playground is still full of smiling, running children; the Mongolian restaurant had delicious food and we beautified our little alley quite a bit!  We ended up collecting three large garbage bags of litter in just half of the area I wanted to cover (we ran out of garbage bags…and toddler patience).  I estimated that we collected nearly 30 pounds of trash! I now feel a lot better on our daily walks with the dog.

Facepainting at a local event.  "I tiger, mommy!"

Facepainting at a local event. “I tiger, mommy!”

Overalls make anyone more country, right?

Overalls make anyone more country, right?

Picking up trash in the neighborhood

Picking up trash in the neighborhood

So, you can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl.  If I want to spend some time in a clean outdoor space, I will do my best to make that happen whether it be forty five miles away, a short walk or drive, or out my front door.  If I need to dig in some dirt I’ll find a way; and if the people and buildings are too close and too thick, I can find a quiet retreat indoors or out!

These were leftover on the platform after the yurt was taken down.  Reminders from my morning tea that I had wedged into the lattice.

These were leftover on the platform after the yurt was taken down. Reminders from my morning tea that I had wedged into the lattice.

Have you ever lived in a place that didn’t jive with your “authentic self”?  What did you do to make the transition easier?  Share your stories with us!

Until next time…

Sending peace and love from MN,

Alex, the Rural Farmgirl

Extra!  Some shots from the Midwest:

 

We visited Paisley Park to pay our respects for the late, great Prince.  Rest in Purple...

We visited Paisley Park to pay our respects for the late, great Prince. Rest in Purple…

Thank you for a funky time, Prince...you are missed!

Thank you for a funky time, Prince…you are missed!

Weinermobile spotted in Milwaukee! Iconic!

Weinermobile spotted in Milwaukee! Iconic!

Leave a comment 7 Comments

  1. Krista says:

    Thank you for sharing some nice pictures of spring and the great outdoors! Hopefully you will be able to continue finding ways to be outside and get back to your inner country. I bet it will be a lot of fun checking out all the parks. I wish we had that many parks here. I have been enjoying the outdoors myself. Twice a day I go out to check on my garden, to water some plants, and push my son in his swing. I can see a difference in both of us just getting out of these concrete walls. Amazing how that works!

  2. Dori Troutman says:

    Hi Alex! As always, I loved reading everything! And those darling little girls of yours. Sigh. (Because I have two little grand-daughters I think I am naturally partial to two little sisters!)

    I was excited to see the picture of Ava bird watching… I’ve been to that exact spot!!! My husband’s family lives on the hill there overlooking the inlet so we would bike that boardwalk and birdwatch. I really need a trip back to Alaska! :-)

    And Opal in her little overalls? So precious and wow she is growing!

    I was sad about the Yurt. I miss your Yurt days!

    Big hugs to you; happy you are enjoying your trip “outside”.

    – Dori, the Ranch Farmgirl –

  3. Cheryl says:

    I am a country girl stuck in the city also but I find ways to keep the country in my life ..I read blogs and country magazines ( I love Mary Jane’s farm ). I plant something every spring even tho I have to plant in pots..I look for good old country recipes like vinigar pie. I take drives in the country…one time I just HAD to see a cow so I loaded up my boys and we drove out to the country to find a pasture full of cows…I got to pet one..that was good therapy for a city girl missing the country life.

  4. Joan says:

    I am living – not on a farm BUT I try to make my yard a farmish setting, the neighbors love it. We have rules for the front so they all are surprised when they open the gate, does make me feel good. It’s getting harder as I get more into my 70’s and the arthritis settles more into my titanium re-enforced spine but on I go and thank God for every inch of the rural feel. Your girls are so precious!!! God bless.

  5. I always enjoy reading what you’re up to. In answer to your question, whenever I’m in a place with a lot of concrete like NYC, I go to great lengths to stay where there is at least one window I can open–hard to find actually. I love an open window because often there’s a breeze that will move the curtains ever so slightly, or perhaps a bird that will sing. It connects me somehow to home and instantly comforts me.

  6. Marilyn says:

    Thanks for the lovely pictures.
    Marilyn

  7. Very Cool Pics!

    Farmgirl Hugs,
    Nicole

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