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Perhaps what one needs is a tour guide to Spring. By all means, make it a 5 year old boy.

I had a whole DAY today playing with my nearly 5 year old grandson. We just hung out all day long.  The sunny morning started with my gifting him with a new pair of rubber mud boots PLENTY big enough to carry even HIS GoldenLab paws for the rest of the season. He and his 3-year old sister helped me poke pea seeds into cell packs, and when I announced that it was time to go TO the garden to transplant the kale puppies, Aulii announced he’d go put on his FIREMAN boots (yeah, they’re red and black). His sister, Paikea, was already booted, so up we both went, and ole FiremanFeet joined us most joyously in his brand new red boots.

While Paikea’s attention soon wandered from my preparing a bed for the kale seedlings to whatever her other Grandmother was doing and she took off, Aulii contented himself with the magical narration that accompanies a 5 year old through his days.

Each opening remark swoops up to a question mark: “And if a Bobcat comes? Then my Ghost Friends will turn into big monsters and scare it away.” (Good. We don’t need to worry about bobcats today)

I let him use my Hackenchopper (Ho-Mi Digger) to break up the clods of soil while I remove the weeds and work the bed. He discovers a worm and I coach him to put it in the bed, as we know they’re GOOD for the garden.  He notes that that was a GIRL worm. (??) I ask how he can tell (and BRACE myself for the answer) Without hesitation he states, as though Harvard has just done some study on it, that GIRL worms are at the TOP of the soil and the BOY worms stay at the BOTTOM of the soil. Here he pauses, he puzzles, he considers and he continues, “But sometimes the boy worms are at the top.” He considers some more, “And the girl worms are….at…the bottom…..” I dare not look at him or I’m going to lose it, so I assure him that I guess we really don’t know, and he agrees, we don’t.  It says right here in the Gramma Rule book, to finish it off with positive spin, so I assure him that it’s probably not really important, because they’re all doing their jobs. He’s good with that.

I finish the bed prep, we go to where the kale has seeded itself MOST generously, and I remind him that this is Gramma Bee’s garden that PLANTS ITSELF. While I’m separating hefty kale seedlings and transplanting them, he is VERY busy with hand tools, a small snow shovel and an empty pot making a MOST elaborate holding pen for the grubs that will be fed to the chickens. I stop him from poking one with a fork and explain that hurting them isn’t ok. Before I can be challenged by the cruelty of feeding them to the chickens, and before the upsettia over having been corrected that I see crossing his face becomes a deep, dark cloud, I careen on.

“These are lucky grubs,” I assure him, “they get to become chickens! Not all grubs get to become chickens, most grubs are just grubs and eat the roots of my plants.” I chose not to continue TOO far into the notion that all grubs turn into SOMEthing else, or he’d want to adopt them all.

As the grub holding pen is holding very little, he’s ready to go feed them to the chickens which sets him off into a whole new narration about the chicken’s names, their NICK names, the names he CALLS them….etc etc etc. I keep handing him grubs.

After awhile his older brother comes and ASKS if he wants to have lunch. Wasn’t TELLING him it was time to come down FOR lunch, just asking him.
He didn’t.
I asked him if he wanted to have lunch at my house, he said yes.
I asked if he wanted lunch now. He said no.
I asked him if he was hungry. He said yes.
I blinked. I waited.
He announced that he wanted to wait until he was STARVED.

Minutes later he announces that he wants some lunch, drops everything he’s doing and heads off towards my house with me on his heels. OFF come the fireman boots and I send him off to the bathroom to pee and wash his hands. A few minutes of silence later he’s heading back to the kitchen and I send him back to wash his hands. (sigh) NOW I hear the water.

While I mastermind a box of Annie’s Mac and Cheese that I’ve been saving for one of our lunches, the narration now turns to the colored tiles in very RANDOM patterns on my kitchen floor.

 “The blue ones? They’re water. And the green ones are burning lava.” (really) I’m now dancing around him hopping all over the floor while avoiding both the water and burning lava myself. I ask if the little rug at the sink is a raft. I’m assured it is. Good.

NOW he runs through the LAST time we ate together at my place in minute detail. “We had that little table? And we sat right there? And we drank tea?” Ah, the bed tray, where on EARTH did I put that.

Eventually the mac and cheese is done, the tea is poured and we are seated at a bed tray on the livingroom floor. Young boy is shoveling orange macaroni into his mouth, and one gets away. After a guilty glance at me, he begins to PURSUE it, threatening to knock the entire bed tray over.

“That’s OK, that’s ok, I’ll get it,” I assure him and hand said renegade roni to my cat, who quietly eats it which quietly pleases the small boy.

Once lunch is done, we decide to go outside to LOOK for stuff. He wants to bring a flashlight. I explain that the sun’s out and we’re good with light. HE explains how, “If we go out to look for stuff when it’s DARK? We’ll bring the flashlight? and……………” OUT we go.

It’s the last day of February in Western Oregon after one of the warmest winters on record, but the rivulets are RUNNIN’ – some between the tufts of grass, some organized into tiny creeks. At first squish, Aulii hesitates and with a big smile I REMIND him that he has NEW BOOTS. GO for it!

Looking like Max in search of the Wild Things, he STRIDES through the grass, now AIMING at the particularly juicy puddles. InvinciBoots.

I’m wearing a rather loafer version of red mud boots myself as I cut the tops off mine last year when they wore out along a crease and split, so mine are low-riding clown shoes. Our narrator begins to explain, “And if the water is THIS HIGH?” he measures against his shiny new red boot, “I’ll walk right through but your feet will get all wet.” (yeahhhhh, that’s true)

He hears a strange noise and instinctively reaches for my hand. Even after I assure him it was just a truck way up on the road, he continues to hold my hand as we walk down by the Hawthorn trees. This is something I will carry with me forever, how Aulii would reach for my hand. He’s always been like this. He has wonderful warm hands.

At the bottom of one path, after peering over the fence to try to see the llama on the farm there who’s nowhere to be seen, as we turn around to head back up, I spot a TRILLIUM right in the center of the path that neither of us saw OR stepped on on the way down. I crouch down to touch it, he crouches down and goes RIGHT for the single bud in the center. Knowing how sensitive he is to being barked at, I try not to bark, but ADVISE that that’s the only bud and it’s VERY fragile. I pull out my camera and he coaches to take it REAL CLOSE. I do and he wants to see the pic. He approves.

We come to a T intersection of paths and I ask which way he wants to go. He looks one way, and the other, and this way and that way and then solidly points to the right. I praise his sense of direction, we just came from the other way. He is pleased.

Off we march, making note of how SOFT the moss is under our feet, I stop to show him all manner of tiny lichen faerie trumpets and we speculate as to who lives in which hole (a few we decided were how Alice gets into Wonderland) He asks if I see any poison oak if I’ll tell him. Of course I will

We get to the top of another path, and now there’s a long, straight run to the driveway. He and his magic boots begin to RUN. At first I think I MUST run too, he turns around and waves me on, but then realize that I can just take BIG PERSON steps and I’ll catch up, besides, he’s now beginning to pick up rocks as he goes.

We turn down the drive and see lots of deer tracks at the edge.  I’ve been pointing out deer tracks for the entire hike. “See? Two toes and two toes.” as I place my fingers in the hoof prints. He begins to spin out  yet another scenario about “IF we were walking on the drive at the SAME time that the deer came by?”…..I didn’t quite catch WHO would be running into the woods first, them or us.

So now Boy With Boots is coming to the great climax, two puddles IN the dirt drive, and he’s carrying rocks. I know where THIS is going. *splunk*

Normally I’m the one urging the ‘No, no, you’re going to get all wet and muddy.” But not today. Today is New Boots day. We’re here at home. Clothes and small boys can be washed and dried. So I just watch.

These two puddles are connected by more water and both are feeding into a tiny rivulet that runs into a drainage pipe. Immediately his instinct is to block the flow with his rock. As boy bonds with mud, he begins to narrate his very own epic drama “Quick! More mud!!” without looking at me at all.

His hands become earth moving machines, the water has no chill, he doesn’t feel his sleeves becoming soaked; he is entirely engrossed in the job at hand. I do just a little coaching on AquaDynamics about how water has to run DOWN, so this puddle has to be lower than THAT puddle… Pretty soon he sits on one knee absolutely SATURATING that leg of his sweatpants.

Once he’s dammed and released the driveway puddles a couple of times we head up to the vegetable garden again where one of said rivulets is threatening the ‘clubhouse’ I made for the kids out of raspberry canes.

Again I watch him learn for himself how if he digs deeper, the water runs down faster. He points out to ME that that swirling means the water’s running faster. We both work on getting a number of rivulets to run down and OUT of the garden. I’m feeling chilled and his shirt sleeves are soaked. He takes his shirt off all together and is now in short sleeves, but wants to keep working. I finally coax him to go put his shirt in the laundry and get a dry one. We walk down to the houses and I find a sweatshirt to put on him before he goes downstairs to put his other one in the laundry.

I gather up my tools and after quite some time I wonder what he might be doing down there as the rest of the family is out playing  in the yard. Then I hear a familiar hooting laugh and look out to see Aulii now being pushed in a swing attached to the massive oak tree, flying and hollering and laughing.

Our day together is done, no need for goodbyes or hugs, it’s all good.

We had a wonderful time.

Boots got a good breakin’ in.

I got hauled through a 5 year old’s day and I’m so much the better for it.

This post is part of the March Blog party on Emerging from Winter hosted by Karen Vaughan at  other article links at the end of this blog.

     While I’m not the biggest fan of winter, never got into skiing and all, I hardly consider winter to be toxic. We slow a bit, perhaps plump a bit, reflect a bit, sleep a bit more and look for warmth and comfort in the kitchen. Soup is a beautiful thing.
     I love watching for the first QUICKENING of spring, and being a true Aries SpringFreak, it doesn’t take MUCH to get me all happy. A bud, a catkin, a whiff of promise, an earlier morning, a bit more light, one frog singing about ANYthing at all.

first stirring plumbuds

     The older books refer to blood-thinning, sometimes blood-cleansing. The notion of our blood as ‘thickening’ for the colder season makes some sense, but when the sap starts to running, we begin to waken. I prefer to go in this direction, ever listening for my body to answer the call and crave live, bitter greens – the broccoli raab, the dandelions, the first beet greens.
     I find in the winter I’m hard-pressed to even WANT to eat a salad or much in the way of cold vegetables at all, although I do love a good APPLE. As the apples begin to lose their real crunch, it’s time to start looking to the garden.   
     Where I live now, in Western Oregon, our winters are quite mild, although the last couple of years we’ve had a couple of weeks of fierce freezes in Dec that have even done in many of our rosemary plants. But the weeds, those first tastes of spring, can grit their leaves and tough it out.

With our soft and rainy winters Chickweed in sandwich
it’s Chickweed heaven
around here.
What incredible fun to find those first glowing green tips.
This is grazin’ on the ground:
pinch and nibble incorporated.
Any sandwich gets a major boost
from a fluff of fresh


     I’m a little less apt to be chowin’ down on the fresh dandelion greens outside, as ours stay huge and lush virtually all winter…

February Dandelion

…..but I do bring them in for that great Spring ritual – First Weed Pesto.
Let the drooling begin.

      I’ll snuffle around in the garden grabbing a few garden sorrel leaves, a few snips of chives, plenty of dandygreens, lots of chickweed and those first, INSANELY Green-scented stinging nettles. All is washed, coarsely chopped and danced about in the food processor.

     I keep the recipe in my head as “Two, Two, half-half-half-QUARTER – and INHALE at every phase”
TWO cups of chopped greens
TWO (or however many) cloves of fresh garlic
HALF a cup of olive oil
HALF a cup of crunchies (I use sunflower seeds as I’m allergic to nuts)
HALF a cup of parmesan cheese (added by hand after all the food processing is done)
and a QUARTER of a tsp of seasalt (or you can leave that out)

Weeeeeeeed pesto!

     GREEEEEEEEEN never tasted so good.
But you don’t want to waste this EXPERIENCE. You’ll find with just a little attention that your tongue isn’t the ONLY part of you getting in on this! When you really savor the flavors and scents, your body gets the announcement: Incoming Minerals!!!! (and enzymes and stuff and magic) and you can FEEL it all over your body.

     I like to imagine this is what a tree feels like as its own sap thins and flows and awakens to the first warmth of spring. I don’t think of the trees as detoxing, nor the first buds as doing much other than hearing the call to GROW and responding with exuberance. I’ll dance what THEY’RE dancing.

     I suspect we may really NEED spring – perhaps more so this year than in the past, as we’ve all watched so much of what we used to be able to count on prove to be false, rigged, poisoned, fed by greed instead of our best interests. We need to trust that Spring will come again, and it will, with hopes of daffodils and songs of forsythias, and longer days and warmer sun.

She hasn’t forsaken us.

no, she has not forsaken us

all photos (c) LadyB

The March Herbal Blog Party:

Yael Grauer wrote Emerging from Winter With Herbs about her three favorite adaptogens and nasal irrigation. Rosalee de la Foret wrote about Spring violets, Emerging from Winter to Find Violet

 Sean Donohue wrote Skunk Cabbage: New England Bear Medicine about the plant that heats its way up through the snow and feeds the bears after the acorns are gone.

 Granny Sam Gahagan writes from her snow covered lair about Emerging from Winter in the Appalachians.  (You westerners might not know that we still have winter, with more storms to come- makes it a bit hard to get into the Spring spirit when you have to dig the chickweed from under the snow.)

 Karen Vaughan writes about Nettles! her favorite spring herb, and year long food.  Whether eaten, drunk or flogged on the skin, nettles stir up your vitality.

 Sarah Head has a beautifully insightful post on Emerging from Winter With Herbs, focusing on the emotional side.  Stunning photographs.

 Stefan Chemlik,  writes Emerging from Winter with a Chinese medicine point of view, focusing on the Liver.  Scroll down to to his list of things you can do to clean up your act under Feeling fat, fuddled or fatigued?

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November 09