Early Kentucky Spring

A couple of years ago, I headed to a spring visit event for prospective students.  Campus was deserted.  We were in the midst of a snowstorm, classes had been canceled, and only the prospective students and their parents were up and about.

This morning, I headed to the same event, on almost the same date in the calendar, but the scene was quite different.  It was a humid 70 degrees, students were sprawled on the warm stone benches, and the honeysuckle flowers were already adding a heavy dose of spring fragrance.

Many trees, shrubs, and lawns are still pretty bare, but our crocuses opened this morning, our hydrangea and roses are budding, and our kids only came inside once it was dark.

Erin

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Congratulations, Mom and Dad

On Wednesday, my parents will celebrate 48 years of marriage, if I’ve got my dates right.  That is seriously impressive to me, who has only been married a quarter as long.  Congratulations!!

Erin

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Christmas in Nova Scotia

It’s been four years since we’ve been to see Sydney’s family in Nova Scotia, so a visit was long overdue.  We also had to come meet our only nephew, who was born earlier this year (during the peak of farming season, so no visit then).  We’ve had a really nice Christmas.  The kids’ aunt has showered attention on them (puzzles, knitting, you name it) and let us sneak in some cuddles with the baby, who just happens to be at Sydney’s favorite age for children.  We’ve also gotten in some time with extended family, as our kids slowly adjust to the fact that they have hundreds of cousins on Sydney’s side.

Nathaniel knew we would have a good time: “Mommy, Uncle Nelson’s a chef, and I know you the three of you also cook.  We’re going to have fun!”  A boy who leads with his stomach.  It’s been too cold for the kids to get out much (they immediately start coughing: the lingering effects of their recent cold), but I’ve gotten in some nice long walks along a former rail line that’s been converted into a walking path through the woods.  Cold as it is, it’s still hard to turn back for home, since the path goes for miles and miles . . .

Erin

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My book is IN

I have no pretty pictures to show you (trust me: there’s nothing pretty about this), but today I emailed my revised book manuscript to my editor and walked a hard copy down to the post office.  After a year of staring down my revision deadline, I’m excited about having it in, so that I can tackle some smaller projects (which will seem very doable now) and take a much-needed break.  I’m glad to see a decade of small discoveries turn into something more, and I’m glad to see that I can put a few hundred pages in Word without it crashing, but I’m now ready for something that doesn’t feel quite so much like a dissertation–or childbirth.

Just in time, too.  Today was the kids’ last day of school, so we have a day at home together before we fly to Nova Scotia to visit Sydney’s family.  We’re excited, and now I can finally get my head into packing!

Erin

 

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Who says Sydney can’t carve?

A colleague recently teased me that I probably didn’t really understand Thanksgiving, since no one in our house was going to be carving a turkey.  Well, it’s no longer Thanksgiving, and this is no turkey, but Sydney can certainly carve up a meal.

Before we head out for Christmas travel, he’s been roasting, pureeing, and freezing piles of squash, including this one, a roughly thirty-pound beast that I think is a Musquee de Provence.  The halves only just fit in our oven.  In real life, it’s so deep orange it’s almost red.  And the flesh more than filled my largest mixing bowl.  Pumpkin soup, pumpkin crescent rolls, pumpkin pie . . .

Erin

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Winter Hike at Shaker Village

Yesterday we took a long hike at Shaker Village, on the Tanyard Trail (6 miles).  The end of the semester has us feeling a bit of cabin fever (so much grading and writing time . . .), so it was lovely to get out.  We started out needing most of our winter gear, but by the afternoon we were wearing our coats around our waists, with hats and mittens in my bag.  I’d packed granola bars and trail mix, and we definitely needed it before we were done, but we were kept reasonably entertained by the change in scenery: lots of rolling hills, some fields, some forests, and, to Sydney’s delight, lots of birds.  He had also brought along a bingo sheet for each kid, so they spent a lot of time asking “Where would I find an acorn?” and “Is that a song sparrow?”  We saw deer several times, which was nice.  And we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

Erin

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Harry Potter Fans

Katherine and Nathaniel have finally gotten into Harry Potter.  That’s good in many ways: they’re reading, they’re asking interesting questions, and they’re sharing something fun with each other.  On the other hand, it also means we’re having to set rules about how much to read and when to stop, so that they get their other chores done and participate in family life.  But there are only seven books, so we’ll enjoy this run while it lasts.

Erin

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A Thanksgiving Hike

On our first day of Thanksgiving Break, we drove about an hour west, to Vernon-Douglas State Nature Preserve.  If our destinations seem a bit random, know that they’re often motivated by Sydney’s attention to bird alerts from around the state.  He thought we might be interested in joining him for this trip because the preserve has a hiking trail of a bit over four miles, with a lot of elevation change.  We packed plenty of trail mix to keep the kids fueled, and gloves and heavy coats, and we all enjoyed the lovely open beech and oak forest.  We’re learning that tramping on leaves can get a bit slippery for downhill sections, obscure the trail, and mask tree roots, but having the leaves down let us look through the trees for miles around.

We’ll be having a pretty low-key Thanksgiving, for which we’re all grateful.  We’re not traveling (though we’ll be flying to see family for Christmas), and for one Canadian and four vegetarians, a turkey-themed holiday right before Christmas is a bit less alluring than to some.  I also have just four weeks until my book manuscript is due, so I’m keen to take advantage of any sizable chunks of time that are free from school obligations.  But we’re all off from school for a few days, we love to eat, and Sydney kicked off the week with four cushaw pies.  Yum.  Thankfully, we had help eating them, but it’s still a nice start to lots of good cooking this week, some of it with Sydney’s remaining farm veggies.  I think of this time of year as the beginning of “orange-veggie season”: sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkins, and carrots.  I know we eat other things, but we use all of these pretty much interchangeably, and we love that they can be used for pies, cookies, stews, soups, lasagnas, and oven-baked fries.  With sweet potatoes in the basement, carrots still in the ground at the farm, and large winter squash sitting around our house, we should be set for a while.

Erin

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Two Nathaniel Stories

A few nights ago, Nathaniel emerged from his room at 10pm.  As he shuffled toward me, blinking in the lamplight, he said quite distinctly, “Mommy, I would like you to move the Harry Potter books to the high shelf.”

“Did you finally realize that they can be scary to read?”

“Yes.”

“Do you remember that I told you you might find them a bit scary, and that there’s no reason not to wait until you’re a bit older to read them?”

“Yes.  And now I want them moved up high.”

The next day, however, Nathaniel was back at them, diving into the third of the seven books in the series.  We’ll see how things go.  I want to encourage him to listen to advice from adults, but also to make his own decisions and grapple with the consequences.  At least, with this particular form of daring, he’ll have Katherine and me to lean on.  And when I’ve checked on him in recent nights, he has been sleeping soundly.

* * *

This morning, I had Nathaniel and Katherine ready and waiting for the bus on the front porch.  As I sat down to eat breakfast, I heard a commotion at the front door.  He had apparently forgotten something, and was tearing down the whole house in his efforts to find it.  As I grabbed his bag, I shooed him out to the front porch, so that we could keep an eye on the bus.  Our bus driver will not wait.  As Nathaniel and Katherine started up the steps of the bus, I turned back to realize that he had, on leaving the house, closed the door behind him—and it was locked.

30 degrees Fahrenheit, and 30 minutes until I needed to be in my classroom, a ten-minute brisk walk away.

Katherine had a key, but she was already on the bus, which was headed down the street.  Sydney was sound asleep, and I knew from previous experience that it’s hard to get someone in the bedroom to hear you if you try to rouse them.  Not to mention that I would be much more likely to disturb our elderly neighbor, who always watches the comings and goings at our house (we’re apparently very entertaining).  So I sprinted around to the backyard in my socks, dug out our spare key from the dirt pile in which I’d tucked it, went back to the front door (wet socks, muddy hands), and found myself thoroughly awake, since my toes had had plenty of contact with the frozen ground.

Erin

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Halloween and the end of the farmer’s market season

Last night the kids enjoyed a Halloween-themed party at one of the dorms at the university, where they got to play games, paint balloons, decorate cookies, and see half of Wilmore.  There is a city-wide bash on Tuesday, when all of the neighborhood kids, rather than go door-to-door, head to Main Street for a street party with lots of booths.  I’ll see half the people I work with ushering miniature dinosaurs, robots, ladybugs, etc., around in the dark.  Thankfully, the kids are given glow-bracelets each year, and they do pretty well at staying close or finding friends.

Meet The Cat in the Hat and Mary Poppins:

As you might have guessed, this is one of the activities I attend without Sydney, who apparently wouldn’t enjoy squiring his kids around a women’s dorm and participating in many rounds of make-believe as part of a holiday he thinks is silly–at best.  I’m just glad our kids have a way to play without having to buy into the frightening aspects of Halloween.  Nathaniel has been terrified by a Care Bears movie, and we don’t need anything that will induce nightmares.  But we are glad to get out as the weather gets colder, and to see other people out and about.

Today was the last farmer’s market of the year.  It never rose to 40 degrees, so it made for some miserably cold conditions (did I mention that it was also rainy and also a bit windy?), but we were glad to see some regular customers come out for one last round of fresh veggies before the winter season has us all hibernating.  We’ll be glad for quieter Saturday mornings for a while, but we’ll miss the interaction with friends.

Erin

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