The Six Seasons of the North

As I sit in my mother’s Minnesota living room with warm, sun-kissed cheeks, it’s hard for me to believe that just two weeks ago I was sledding and skiing in Alaska!  A few thousand miles and a couple springtime weeks can make a big difference, amiright? We just celebrated one of the nicest (weather-wise and family-wise) Easter Sundays in recent memory.  The girls searched for Easter eggs–outside and barefoot–with their cousins before spending a good hour or more playing on a nearby playground, bare legs dangling from swings and hands free from the confines of winter’s mittens.

Opal's first Easter Egg hunt--bare foot, happy and full of sugar.

Opal’s first Easter Egg hunt–bare foot, happy and full of sugar.

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Silence: A Forgotten Friend

“Silence is a source of great strength.” Lao Tzu

“Silence is a true friend who never betrays.” Confucius

“Silence is true wisdom’s best reply.” Euripides

Finding silence in the snowy mountains.

Finding silence in the snowy mountains.

Last week I had the pleasure of going on a quick backcountry ski tour—just me and my pup, Moki. It was such a treat.  I hadn’t gone backcountry downhill skiing (or any downhill skiing, for that matter) since well before Opal was born.  I’ve been downhill skiing since I was three, so it’s kind of ingrained in my epigenetic DNA.  I long for it when I haven’t gone in a long time.  I miss it like a long lost friend.  (If you are unfamiliar with backcountry skiing, there is a long winded explanation at the end of this post!)

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Mmmm, Altitude

Happy February Farmgirl friends!  I hope you all had a lovely “Love Day” as Ava calls it.  We’ve been plastering hearts on things for awhile now in anticipation of the holiday, but I’m afraid it passed without much fanfare.  Heart-shaped pancakes are very good though!

Opal having a blast at Ava's birthday party!

Opal having a blast at Ava’s birthday party!

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Positively Flocked!

You can’t get too much winter in the winter.

~Robert Frost

I recently sent my mother a picture of the view out of our living room window. It showed a tall spruce heavy with what appeared to be snow, but deciduous trees in the background were also coated in white. She replied, “You are positively flocked!” I had NO idea what that meant, so had to Google it. She was, as I’m sure many of you know, referring to the artificial Christmas trees that look like they are covered in snow or frost. I also learned that “flocking” means sticking little bits of fiber to a solid surface with glue…like those little hard animal figurines that are fuzzy. Supposedly flocking goes back to 1000 b.c.  #themoreyouknow.  Back to the real stuff–it’s been occurring since the dawn of hydrologic cycles and sub-freezing temperatures. Take that early civilization!

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A sometimes Frost Chime…taking a break from the wind.

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Home Again, Home Again

Seasons Greetings Farmgirl Friends,

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Joyous Festivus!

Winter has finally come and stuck around. The exciting tease of flurries and chill that begins to poke around in October has given way to snow that accumulates, temperatures that remain below freezing, and the shortening of days. As I write this, we are two days shy of the winter solstice and our number of daylight hours hovers around five and a half. The sun rises after ten a.m. and sets well before four p.m. It is winter. It is time to eat, love, create and enjoy.

We have been treated with beautiful hoar frost several times this December.

We have been treated with beautiful hoar frost several times this December.

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Tropical Farmgirl

The last time I wrote I was preparing to leave on a family vacation to Hawaii!  We have returned to Alaska, but I’d love for you to join me for a trip down memory lane to three weeks ago….

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A walk through paradise. Those are mahogany trees framing the left. They were planted when the farmer started this farm a few decades ago.

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Illumination

Ava wanted to play with her flash light today for the first time since April.  It’s an old promotional flashlight that I put in her stocking last Christmas (funny how the best things are often free/unexpected).  She loves shining it all over the floor and stairs while our dog, Moki, chases the cast light.  Moki gets a little neurotic about chasing lights and shadows…but it’s fun! While we were playing, it dawned on me that the ambient light was low enough to allow for the flashlight to work!  Darkness is setting in, but with it, we are gifted illumination.

Is that an adorable gnome I see looking at me?

Is that an adorable gnome I see looking at me?

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The Seasons of Our Lives

Aaahhhhh…You can almost hear the collective exhale as we make our way through September.  The hectic days of late August are behind us, and we are settling into new routines at work, school, in the garden, and at home.  There is a welcome relief that comes along with the end of production and the beginning of rebirth.  A new season has begun! And with it, the headiness of autumn.  In my experience, autumn is a time for big thoughts and formative realizations.  We are instinctually preparing our bodies for the long stretch of winter where–traditionally–we would be spending our time with our thoughts, our food, our families and our fire.  Might as well start the whole hibernation mode with a clear brain–but first to sift through everything that has been brushed aside during the action packed summer!

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Shadows of ourselves. September affords beautiful “golden hours” and a lot of shadow fun! This rural girl finds that concrete has some perks…

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Waste Not, Want Not

Hi Farmgirls!  Harvest season is in full swing up here in Alaska, I imagine your gardens are producing (or everything is bolting?) in excess with the amount of heat the lower 48 has been getting.  On the farm, we have seen especially high yields of peas, zucchini and broccoli–nearly to the point of having too much to sell and eat!  In the past, I would have dedicated a few days to putting up food for the winter, but it turns out that small children make this pretty difficult.  Who would’ve thunk?

These girls are so helpful!  Yes, that is a mud goatee on Opal...soil is good for gut flora, they tell me.

These girls are so helpful! Yes, that is a mud goatee on Opal…soil is good for gut flora, they tell me.

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“It’s Okay”: Advice From a 2.5 Year Old

I just wrapped up an after dinner family photo session hosted by the one and only Toddler Farmgirl Ava.  She has a sudden interest in photography, I think it has something to do with her other Babysitter Farmgirl friends who just started Instagram accounts.  Anyway…she was pretending that a clothes hanger was her camera.  She wanted us to give ourselves bunny ears and make funny faces.  We obliged and she snapped away some “pictures.”  It was really great, innocent fun!

Funny face photos on a nature hike!

Funny face photos on a nature hike!

I then asked if she had any other color cameras, maybe a green one?  She replied that all of her other cameras “had clothes hanging on them.”  Hilarious!  The imagination can have its limits, apparently.

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