Browsed by
Month: March 2018

Melting

Melting

There are days that just beckon you outside no matter what you are doing.  The warm breezes, the shining blue sky, the melting snow….

Monday was one of those days.  Plans for table work and house chores went out the window as I gathered up my camera, dog and child and headed outside into the warm spring day.  The sun was beaming, the snow was beginning to recede and I have learned over many, many years that these days are a gift.  A gift you need to make the most of because, like a really sucky birthday party that does not go your way, that gift will be snatching from your fingers and hidden out of sight for an indeterminate period of time with no warning whatsoever.  Life can be harsh that way.

I searched everywhere for signs of spring, the forming buds on the ends of branches, the moss covered rock that was simply waiting for the warm touch of sunshine to bring it to life again.  The fungi clinging to a log that somehow make it through the bitter cold each year seemingly untouched.  I wish I could say the same.  But where I mostly found spring was inside.  Neirin went dashing off, exploring hedgerows he ‘had never seen before’.  He was fascinated by a ‘massive’ tree that seemed to have sprung out of nowhere, begging to be climbed.  He dashed in and out of bushes and trees, exclaiming to me how lovely it all was, how warm it was outside, how he really didn’t need his coat at all.

I followed him on his journey, weaving around him and noticing the receding snow, the skeletal plants standing in contrast against the remaining monochrome background.  I pushed my feet into the mushy white stuff, feeling it give way to the warmth of the sun and the turn of the season.  Each moment seemed somehow significant, bright and very lovely.

 

Every shimmering touch of green feels like a wondrous discovery.  Even the melancholy remaining feathers of a long lost duck felt part of a new beginning; the day held us in the palm of its hand and gave us the warmth we needed to get through another bout of wintery grey.  But the best bit about it?

Spring. Ish.

Spring. Ish.

Theoretically it is spring, as in the first day of.  I know this because the calendar says so.  Begrudgingly I will also concede that yes, the days are in fact longer than they used to be not so very long ago. But.

It’s really, really cold.  And when I say cold, I am really not messing around.  I’m talking overnight temps of -21C, which in countries other than Canada is cause for nationwide shut downs and a wailing and gnashing of teeth only previously seen when the Cadbury’s Cream Egg was reduced in size.  Seriously though, I’m still not over that.  But back to the weather.

Snow is still very much in evidence here, though in order to mix things up and give us a little variety we also have patches of ice.  The ground that made a short visit to Visibility Town only a couple of weeks ago, is once more encased in a frosty tomb and shows none of the promise of life, greenery and warm month frolics that my heart so longs for.  Le sigh.

Instead we continue on with our winter routine, making sure that animals have unfrozen water, keeping bedding fresh and cosy for long sleepy days snuggled up while the wind whistles outside.  Damn how I envy our pigs.  We cast our eyes longingly towards water troughs that will run on unfettered hoses in the summer months, freeing us from the labour of shifting buckets of water from one place to another.  We turn our faces away from the biting wind and imagine ourselves in the future, pausing under a shady oasis while warm breezes wash over our over heated brows.

There are indications of  spring for sure, the sound of birdsong is more present than it has been, the light floods our house warming us during the daylight hours and leaving behind residual warmth for many hours afterwards.  The cats are actually marginally willing to go outside, rather than spending their waking hours finding hiding spots that will defeat our desire to not have them wee on the floor in the night.  In this way spring is beginning her unfurling, tickling our senses with the possibility of mushy ground and green shoots.

But oh I how crave a quicker return.  I was so in love with the above zero temperatures we had a few weeks ago, I stood out on the deck and felt the breeze wash over me as I dared to go outside with only two layers of clothing on and neither of them was made of down.  Up here in the frozen north it really does stay colder for longer, and while I’m able to welcome the dark nights of winter after a long season of busyness, I’ve now reached the pointed of cabin fever and can’t wait to be out on the land again.

And I suppose that’s the point of it all really, that’s what keeps us sane on this cycle of warmth and cold.  When you make the most of each season, when you wring out of it as much as you possibly can, the passing of it seems less painful.  After a busy summer and fall of gardening, working outside and making the absolute most of every hour, the prospect of quiet hibernation becomes very welcome.  Now, though, we are ready for the next phase.  I want to feel my fingers go numb in the black earth that is barely ready to receive seeds.  I want to bring in sheets off the line that are still cold with spring wind and crisp from riding the turbulent breezes.  My fingers itch to caress the first buds on the trees and touch the unfurling leaves with soft tips that may yet have to withstand snow and ice.

So to all those who, like me, are feeling the burning desire for spring to get underway, I promise it will come.  Not as quickly as we wish and not as easily as we would like but the wheel is turning once again.  It’s our job to hold on tight and hope to not get squished.

Nourish

Nourish

It seems almost impossible, at this time of year, to resist being caught up in the frenzy of diet and health ‘advice’ that is in abundance.  We are meant to begin the calendar year with a sense of purpose, a redefining of ourselves and all at the time of the year when we most want to pull the duvet over our heads and sleep for the next quarter year or so.

Doesn’t sound fun.

Like everyone else I struggle to balance out all of the contradictory advice about food and health that exists in the world.  There are so many variations of what is ‘healthy’ now that it really boggles the mind.  Much as I love new information, I find myself in overload when I try to tackle the myriad possibilities of what I ‘should’ be putting on my plate.  Frankly I’m tired of it all.  I’m tired of feeling that only some slimmer, younger, more vibrant version of me is acceptable to the world.  That I must be less in order to be more.  I’m tired of fighting an endless fight that I’m never going to win.  And on top of all that I’m actually just tired.  It’s been winter for a long time and, well,  ugh.

So I have a new watchword that I’m trying to use to steer my choices over the coming months and it is the title of this post.  Nourish.  It’s a simple yet complex notion that I can decide for myself what works for me based on how I feel.  I can decide to eat, or not eat, foods based on a few questions I ask myself.

Does this food make me feel good?

How do I feel 10-20 mins after eating?

Does it feel nourishing to me right now?

Simple enough really and of course, very personal.  What is nourishing will mean different things at different times, even on the same day.  Does it feel nourishing to eat delicious meats I raised on my own farm?  Yes!  Go right ahead.  Does it feel nourishing to enjoy a delicious tea with even more delicious company, snacking on cookies or special occasion treats?  Most certainly!  Enjoy to the fullest.   Does it feel nourishing to sneak an entire handbag of peanut M&M’s into the cinema when you have a once a year opportunity to be out without the children and stay up crazy late watching bizarre Sci-Fi movies on a sold fuel of lemon flavoured water and sugar?  Hell yes!

I’m a grown up person with many pairs of big girl pants, therefore I know that if I eat a handbag full of M&M’s every day I will probably be violently ill or die of malnutrition.  But as the old saying goes, All things in moderation, including moderation.  It can feel good to cut loose, just as it can feel good to acknowledge when something isn’t working for you and make a change.  It is nourishing to care enough about your own wellbeing to craft foods that make you feel strong and healthy; it’s also kind to recognise your own humanity and just do your best as much as you can.

In a world where even the humble potato has been demonised, where food is ‘clean’ or ‘detoxifying’ (as opposed to dirty, naughty and just plain filthy one presumes) it is easy to get sidetracked and confused.  It is easy to miss signals your own body is sending, telling you what works for you, right now.  What works in the winter, is different to what works in the summer.  In the summer I am thrilled to eat garden raised salad with every meal, in the winter I want potatoes with some potatoes on top, don’t hold the potatoes.  Our needs change with different phases of our lives and, I think, tuning into that is more important that what the internet says is good this year.

So when I feel the panic that tells me that a perfectly healthy food that I’m really craving is bad, I ask myself the question, does this feel nourishing to me right now?  The reason why the answer is yes might be layered, but if it is yes then that’s good by me.  I’m looking for my food to make me feel full, to give me energy, to encourage strength and movement in my body.  I need meals that will allow me to garden, to pig wrestle and to do more laundry than there are clothes in our house.  I also need for it to not include ingredients that have to be sourced by climbing up a Himalayan mountain, barefoot in December or requires me to spiralize fairy wings into a smoothie made from Kale and wishes.  That just doesn’t work for me.

I’m never going to be a teeny person, I’m never going to be small or unnoticeable.  I don’t think I want to be.  What I want is to feel energetic, full of life and enthusiasm.  I want to laugh, move, eat, create and generally enjoy life.  And sometimes, I just want to eat cake, damnit.