So long spring, hello summer!

I’m sad to say May is gone. It’s an annual tragedy. May begins quietly, sweet with budding flowers and not too hot. The humidity waiting in the wings but not yet present. By Memorial Day June is not just knocking at the door but full force body slamming it. Humidity has taken over. The heat has picked up and I’ve given in and turned on the AC. Damn you southern summer. I am not strong enough to keep the windows open.

May, as always, proved to be the best month of the year so far.

We went to the aquarium not once, but twice! (Thank you year long membership!) We finally checked out the Children’s Museum which proved to be a huge hit (more on that tiny adventure later).

IMG_5769

Tiny crab

IMG_5685

Standard post-aquarium position

The family trekked to Winston to see my mom, a trip that included a lot of nostalgia cleaning out her attic, walks in my favorite places and the best fried chicken.

IMG_5694IMG_5716

I got another year older, which is one of my favorite activities. I’m glad it doesn’t happen more than once a year but I’m very grateful to continue on this journey!

IMG_5777IMG_5776

Our garden is starting to show life. Our yard is in bloom. We’ve already been to the pool twice, which is proving popular with Haines.

My dad came for a visit, a long overdue trip! As he lives overseas, he hadn’t gotten to see Haines since he was still new to the world. Not surprisingly he immediately took to his Granddaddy.

IMG_5767

Haines is talking more and more each day, imitating all the words we say to him. Baby #2 is growing away (as am I) and I’ve started to feel him kick and roll around. The summer is off to an incredible start.

IMG_5748

Dogs and Gardens

One of the disappointing parts of moving when we did, in the early fall, was that we weren’t able to see our garden through to the full season. We left green tomatoes and ripening peppers and a basil bush just waiting for pesto. We invested a lot of time and money into a project we weren’t able to see all the way through. Despite that it was still a good experience and we learned a lot. Mainly we learned there is a learning curve in gardening. A big one.

IMG_0027

Beware squirrels.

This year we’re approaching things a little differently. I refused to consider the possibility of an in-ground garden after the insane amount of weeding I did last year. Also, we thought our old yard had sandy soil but we might as well be at the beach in this house. In the end, after a lot of back and forth, we decided on two 8′ x 4′ garden beds. I was talked down from making them 24″ high like the ones we built at LINC last year for Work on Wilmington. Those were some awesome garden beds. When I actually saw how high 12″ is though, I was on board.

LINC-Urban-Farm-1

These are not the exact boxes we built but we did base ours off these. Photo Credit: K.J. Williams 

We lined the boxes with weed cloth and put a layer of leaves in before we piled in our compost/top soil. We bought it all mixed up already from Seaside Mulch. We bought it in bulk instead of bags which saved us a lot of money.

What we should have done differently: Our very next action after building the beds should have been to protect them from their number one enemy- our dog. Clara was delighted to leap through the bed on her way to the fence where she chats with other dogs and also to dig up my seeds and freshly planted baby broccoli plants. So much fun!

After SOMEONE insisted there was no way Clara was going to dig in the garden again after she’d gotten in trouble for it, she did it again many more times. I won, he built me a fence. It’s pretty basic, just plastic mesh zip-tied to rebar poles. We* used sod staples to secure the fence to the ground.

*Please note when I say “we” in the same sentence as “build” or something similar I typically mean Tyler. “We” built garden beds, “we” used sod staples, etc. On the flip side when I say “we” planted or “we” weeded, I just mean me. 

IMG_1509

Fence Day!

IMG_1511

Finally these plants can rest easy. Whew. 

IMG_1512

There’s the culprit now, eyeing her prey…

Now we’re down a few broccoli plants (but how much broccoli can you really eat anyways?) and I’ve planted new spinach and beet seeds, along with tomato, pepper and herb plants. We’re trying not to plant so many different things this year. Trying is very hard for me.

IMG_1501

Whoops. 

Lessons From the Garden

1. Starting the day with productivity instead of a snooze is a recipe for success. I’ve been getting up early before work, pouring a cup of tea, turning on some easy wake up tunes, and putting on my gardening gloves. With the heatwave (it’s called summer) and the humidity (my welcome back to the South) it’s the only time I’m willing to weed and work out there. Regardless it sets the tone for my day. I feel happier and kinder when I start the day surrounded by the beautiful things we’ve worked so hard to grow. To date we’ve eaten spinach, peas, arugula, two tomatoes (the squirrels ate two beautiful ones too), a beet and there’s a zucchini in my refrigerator that I’m about to cook up.

Oh look a delicious treat.

Oh look a delicious treat.

A delicious treat for squirrels apparently

A delicious treat for squirrels apparently

2. I am a very small part of a very big world. Even in my 15 x 15 little garden plot I don’t have a very firm grasp of what occurs nor a lot of control. If I did the spinach, peas and potatoes wouldn’t have disappeared. Our pea vines have yellowed, wilting from the heat. Our spinach supposedly drowned. Our potatoes have slowly vanished from nematodes. Constantly in life I am reminded that most of the time I am seeing only a very small picture of the world. I have to work hard to understand my garden and I have to work hard to understand why so many tough things are happening in the world right now. I don’t think I’ll ever figure out either.

IMG_2110_2

3. I think a lot about my grandmother when I’m out in the garden. I am told that she spent a lot of time in her yard working on her plants. I’m sure she never grew vegetables because she was a terrible cook but I imagine if we knew each other now we would enjoy talking about it. I started wearing garden gloves recently to keep dirt out from under my fingernails. My dad told me that my grandmother drank gelatin to strengthen her nails. It’s such a small thing but I think of her when I wear my gloves. I never met her. I’ve heard a lot of things about her, positive and negative, but I would have really liked to know her. Gardening is one of those things that just makes me feel more connected. 

anne

4. It’s a process. The peas withered from the heat but I can try again in the fall or earlier next spring. Next time we plant potatoes we’ll know to take action earlier. We have learned and we can try again. There’s no one and done.

Success!

Success!

Are You Domesticated?

I recently turned 26. This neither feels like a particularly young or old age. I am young enough to have no real responsibilities or obligations. I am old enough to have my Facebook newsfeed be flooded with pictures of weddings, engagement announcements, baby photos, updates on pregnancies and the list goes on. I am equally fascinated and repelled by these. Did Cat really marry that boy from West?  Is Abby really pregnant? Is everyone pregnant? Is that where we are now- the age of life where everyone is… domestic?

Part of me is horrified by this. How can everyone be ready to settle down? While I realize that my lifelong idea that adventure ends with marriage is a little extreme, there are some adventures or experiences that can only be had when you’re flying solo. It’s a lot harder to pick up and go with someone else to consider. There are so many places I still want to go. So much of the world left unseen. There is this feeling in my chest, a tightness that I associate with the feeling of being trapped. Furniture makes me feel trapped. I hate owning any. My job makes me feel trapped. I go there five whole days a week (can you imagine?!). And even having a boyfriend means that I am limited in my explorations. I can’t exactly take off, life packed into a bag, for unlimited amounts of time and expect someone to wait behind.

But then, I feel the other side. This side is a new development. It’s something I feared would take over in my life eventually. It’s the need to nest. I want to garden. I want window boxes on a little bright colored cottage. Inside the house are pictures of all my favorite people, places and things. In the fridge are delicious treats. From the oven comes the smell of fresh bread baking. And everything is mine. At home, I wear only my underwear. My messes are always mine. And maybe, if he’s lucky, the boy comes over or lives with me. We fill the house with laughter and music can always be heard from our open windows. Even  though he doesn’t want to, he dances in the kitchen with me. I love to dance in the kitchen.

How do people do this? Balance the need to explore the unknown with the want to make roots? Am I the only one who feels this tug of war?