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2013/07/30 / Shanan

ON GROWING A GARDEN WITH A CHILD

It’s such a simple thing, really.  Dirt, seeds, water, sun, plants.

Our vegetable garden is in full swing at this time of the summer and I’ve come to consider growing food for ourselves both a privilege and a spiritual necessity.  Doing so with a child in tow makes the experience all the sweeter.  Every day we go outside and Theo says, “let’s check out the garden,” and then she runs all knock-kneed over to the entrance of our little fenced-in enclosure.  She walks through the rows of onions and says the long green stalks brushing against her are like “going through a carwash.”  She examines and gently pets the green tomatoes, and digs in the dirt at the edge of a bed with her little spade.  Sometimes she ‘plants’ things she’s already picked, patting them down with great concentration.  She can identify dill, and mint, and swiss chard.  I am a proud mum.

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The initial planting of the garden only held Theo’s interest for a little while; Chris prepared the beds and I dug little holes for her to drop the seeds into.  I don’t know for sure that she fully grasps the connection between what we did months ago and what the garden looks like now, soft and leafy and very green.  We pick zucchinis and she puts them into a big bowl; I carry them inside and chop them up and use them to make pasta primavera. When we all sit down to eat, Chris and I talk about how amazing it is that we grew the zucchini we’re eating right at this moment!  Sometimes she responds with an enthusiastic, “yah!” …and sometimes she’s fishing her fork out of her milk.  That’s fine.

She does understand that when we pick all the berries, we then have to wait til the next day for more berries to ripen in their place.  She also knows that plants need water, and she loves using the watering can for the herb pots on our deck.  We read stories about the seasons, and giggle at the Frog and Toad story where Toad sings to his seeds because he thinks they are afraid to grow.

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I don’t want to get all woo-woo earth-mother on you here, but I think that all of this should be essential for a kid to experience, in some form, from a very young age.  Getting their hands dirty is fun and tactile, learning about where food really comes from is so important, and seeing the results, the little miracles that ensue, is so gratifying.  I’m still pretty in awe of it all.

Here’s an interesting article I read in The Atlantic, it’s titled, “How Nature Resets our Minds and Bodies.” And here are some websites offering tips for starting a kid’s garden (even if you don’t have a big backyard) and ways to get them interested in the process. I’ll leave you with that food for thought, and about a zillion more pictures of us in the garden,  from both this year and last.  Thank you for reading (now go outside!).  xx Shanan

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2013/07/09 / Shanan

ICE CREAM SOCIAL

ICE CREAM!!  It’s a small thing but it’s a wonderful thing, am I right?  And my baby enjoying an ice cream cone for the very first time was a comically attainable goal from our summer bucket list.  I’d been waiting to show off my artisanal ice cream-making skills, you know, maybe whip up some homemade waffle cones and have the family pose in front of peony bushes.

But… on Saturday at 5 pm we decided to just go to the little summer-time produce market up the road, and get some bleedin’ ice cream from their freezer, plunk it in the hands of a 2 year old with eyes the size of dinner plates, and consume at their neighbouring picnic tables.  Success!

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Theo had a ‘baby cone’ with black raspberry ice cream – the stipulation being that she wanted the flavour to be ‘purple.’ Hubby got some double-scooper-ungodly-flavour-mash-up that was gone in 60 seconds, and I went for my beloved standby, chocolate mint chip.  Because even when it’s bright green, it’s still so good.  Ps, are you totally bored yet?

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Ye olde-time-y ice cream vignette.

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Who IS this handsome devil?

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Game, set, match in the shoe department, ladies.

Quick – what’s your favourite flavour (or ‘flavor’ for the Americans out there)?

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2013/06/24 / Shanan

SUNDAY PICNIC

Sweet, sweet summer.  It’s here.  Sunday was the first really sticky, hot, should-we-turn-on-the-air-conditioning? day so far this year.  We packed lunch, had a little hike, and picnicked beside a river. Pretty. Damn. Blissful.

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Theo still fit in our hiking backpack; not sure how much longer that will last.  My husband apparently selected his wardrobe based on the possibility of us encountering a pick-up basketball game in the forest.

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Fruit bar break.

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2013/05/28 / Shanan

LIMBS AND LEAVES

Chris gets like 96% of the credit for getting our garden together each year (and deservedly so).  He does all the planning and most of the grunt work.  I spent an afternoon last week turning up soil and weeding and then had to spend the next three days soaking my sad weak legs in Epsom salts.

But – I know an unnecessary decorative project when I see one so I painted up a batch of terra cotta pots to make myself look useful plant our herbs in.  And they look pretty nice.

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Theo was actually pretty helpful with the dirt scooping.

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Stripes day. Oh, you didn’t get the memo?

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2013/04/30 / Shanan

HOW TO MAKE MAPLE SYRUP

Winter felt like a bit of a bust this year.  Chris had an injured back and Theo was still just a tad too little to take advantage of stomping around in the snow, so we spent a lot of time indoors.

March perked us up, though.  It was time to finally milk this ‘country living’ thing for all it was worth.  It was SYRUP TIME.

Laura Ingalls Wilder — eat your heart out.

"How to Make Maple Syrup," photo by Shanan Kurtz. www.thesymmetric.com (more…)