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Roots and Wings

Emily foliage

Adam’s grandmother had a curious pen set up in her carriage shed that I asked about once. It consisted of a fenced area in the corner filled with a fluffy bed of hay, and a small opening to the outdoors which entered into a large, fenced grassy area that included plenty of sun and few big shade trees. I say this set up was curious because her animals were kept in the barn and pasture, not over here in the carriage shed. She explained: This is where my dogs birth and raise their pups. They’re self-sufficient; mom has the litter and cares for them out here. She uses the doorway to take them outside throughout the day for play and to housebreak them. A canine mother will do this naturally, on her own, if given the freedom to access the outdoors as she wishes, and as her pups indicate a need. In and out the pups go, by her command, all day long. It takes twelve weeks of nursing and “potty-training” on mom’s part, but then they are ready to go to their new homes, completely housebroken and well-nourished. It cannot be rushed; a pup should never leave it’s mother sooner than twelve weeks. Oh, right. That amazing thing that happens when we provide animals with an environment that reveals their true (albeit domesticated) behavior. Roots and wings. 

I didn’t have many real life attachment parenting mentors as a young mother. Actually, I didn’t even know what we did was called attachment parenting at first. Can’t remember if I eventually learned the term from a copy of Mothering magazine I’d found at the flea market, from a book by Dr. Sears, or from our midwife (who remained a good friend after the birth of our child). It just made sense to pick up our baby when she cried, invite her to sleep with us for warmth and security, and nurse whenever she felt the need for sustenance or a moment of nurturing. As she grew older and communicated with words, we knew she preferred to be with us and had no interest in overnights at relatives’ or friends’ houses. At large gatherings, she was reserved and preferred to hang close, mostly choosing not to run wild with the other kids. I later understood that it was not because us was us, and she couldn’t bear to separate, but because us was home, and home felt right. She was engrossed in the work of living according to her own intuition, and we were the two people she trusted would allow for that. We didn’t question why up until age nine or ten she preferred to fall asleep with one of us by her side. Or why she decided to wean herself in a single day at age two when I thought we’d go longer. To be sure, I had plenty of questions about raising a child in this world, but fulfilling her basic needs was not a mystery. Our not-very-well-researched parenting method consisted of acting in a way that felt right. That was the whole shebang. Do what feels right. Now, Oprah is not exactly calling to feature us in a parenting spotlight, so proceed with caution on that one.

When Emily was young, there were plenty of strange looks about our closeness and our attentiveness; I’m sure there were conversations out of earshot that lent a critical analysis of our doting ways. I guess I just believed that if we met her emotional and physical needs, she would be strengthened. That by inviting her close rather than pushing her away, she’d trust that we’d be there, that we would always be her home. And it made no sense to me that because my five year old needed us to lay with her as she drifted to sleep, that my fifteen year old would need the same (as people suggested). Seriously, ask my nineteen year old if she’d like to co-sleep with mom and dad. Not a chance!

As is often the case, I’m not really sure what the point is here. Maybe just to say that now she is grown and of all her friends, she went to college further away than all but one of them. She does not express homesickness, but does look forward to coming home when breaks allow. She invites us to visit her, to get to know her friends because she thinks we’ll really like them (we do). She travels far and wide with her debate team and though her fierce independence proves she is terrible about sharing itineraries, we are still the first people she checks in with to report safe arrivals and team successes. Roots and wings. 

This is the part in a post like this where a more profound person would offer sage encouragement to those of you still in the thick of it with little ones at home, but the idea of doing that makes me super uncomfortable. Just know that you have my support, for what it's worth, and don't worry about loving your children too freely, too abundantly. There is no harm in meeting their needs and building trust. Love big and love hard. And when they’re ready to leave your breast, your bed, your nest... you will always have their roots, while the world enjoys their wings. 

Head to the Holy Land

Logee's 4Adam was a young lawyer during our nation’s historic and hopefully never to be seen again housing bubble crisis of 2007-2009. He held a position of counsel in a firm that was accurately labeled as a “foreclosure mill.” It was fast-paced demoralizing work, the kind that left you feeling starved for something better. He didn’t last long. It was such a poor introduction to the legal profession that he actually left the field entirely after that, causing wide-eyed glances among friends and family as he took a job with Connecticut Soapstone. Day after day he installed gorgeous stone in the homes of people that were living peacefully, and safely. They were not in fear of wolves at the door. He was not the wolf at the door. It was bittersweet of course, because while he felt better about how he earned his pay, those in fear of losing everything, were still out there.

He didn’t earn much money installing stone, or even enough, really. I think from the beginning we both knew it wouldn’t last forever, but he was so happy, we hoped that it could. His body was engaged, the earth-based material felt good in his hands, and while the initial fabrication took place in the shop by folks specifically trained for the task, on site installations still required final stone manipulation and finishing that afforded a degree of craftsmanship. It was solid work. If a person could earn more than sixteen bucks an hour doing it, he’d probably still be there today. 

Logee's 6

I loved the stories he’d come home with; stories reminiscent of the one I shared when renovation crews were here over the winter. Except Adam’s stories were from the flipside: He was the tradesman observing the homeowner. One night, he came home in a particularly good mood, and when I asked about his day, he rolled right into a story about an elderly couple that he did an install for. He was in their home for a few hours and during that time, noticed how kind they were to each other, how much attention they paid to one another and how he saw us, in them. That he knew we’d be the hand-holding old couple in rocking chairs, sitting in comfortable silence or whiling the afternoon away with stories of days gone by. This couple may have looked at the young, strong bodies in their home with a certain longing for their own youth, but to Adam, they presented a glimpse of our future, and he was comforted by what he saw. 

I often wonder why I’ve been the recipient of such generous, thoughtful love. I can get a little wrapped up in the wondering, actually. Not in a “I don’t deserve this” kind of way, but in a “what are the odds of this happening” sort of mind loop. No matter, I feel fortunate, and our love remains the greatest treasure I have in life. 

Logee's 5

Yesterday, within an hour of laying my heart on the page, Adam sent a text: What are you doing this afternoon? I’d like to come pick you up, take you anywhere you want to go.” 

(Oh, he’s good.)

Willing to cut out of the office with a half day’s work undone, to spontaneously shake up my day and offer a change of scenery. I couldn’t say yes fast enough. And I knew exactly where I wanted to go. Because if you live in eastern Connecticut and it’s late March with snow still covering every inch of your property, and if you’re feeling helpless over your father’s health or the health of the entire world quite frankly, you bust out of dodge and head to the holy land. 

Logee's 1

Logee's 7

Logee's 2

More than a typical retail plant nursery, Logee’s is a living collection of rare and tropical plants, all housed in the lush, antique greenhouses of a 125 year old family business. An endless maze of trailing ivy, sweetly scented moss, and healing warmth that is felt bone-deep. I was struck by how my senses were simultaneously heightened and soothed; so different from the heightened and over-stimulated feeling I often experience in most “worldly” places. Honeysuckle, jasmine, gardenia, hibiscus, and a hundred other flowers I could not identify, all in full bloom, dripping with intoxicating aroma, offering it up as communion. Nearly century old citrus trees were heavy with ripe fruit, one particular tree having ten varieties grafted onto it. One stop citrus shopping! We were completely swept away in tropical greenhouse magic, and I couldn’t believe the one-eighty I felt compared to earlier in the day. I was reminded of what happens when you just do the next right thing, when you do not allow yourself to remain stuck. Moreover, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for being in partnership with someone who after all this time, still has my back like no other. 

Logee's 3

Thank you for being there yesterday; I was so touched by your generous words on my last post. As you can imagine, I had a moment of hesitation prior to publishing it, but it’s been my experience that we’re never alone in our humaneness. That by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, essentially inviting others into our world, we all somehow benefit. We all feel less stuck. 


If you’re within a day’s drive to Logee’s, I’d very much encourage you to pack a lunch and take a trip over. It’s totally free to roam the greenhouses, though you might want to stick a few bucks in your pocket because their fig trees (and scented geraniums, and lemon trees, and...) are legendary.

We’ve got a few days of rain on tap which should put a serious dent in melting the snow.  We have plans to purge three spaces in our home as we prepare for our move to nowhere (haha... must keep sense of humor), but to be honest, I wouldn’t mind scrapping those plans and heading back to the greenhouse. Because as much as I needed the warm-sunshine-through-glass-therapy of yesterday’s visit, the only thing better than a sunny afternoon in a couple of old, charming greenhouses, is a rainy afternoon in a couple of old, charming greenhouses.

Maybe I’ll see you there. xo


All photos in this post (last pic aside - which is of my new Logee’s grown fig tree!) were taken in the greenhouses. You can read more about the interesting history of Logee’s here. And definitely watch the video of Byron giving a partial tour at the bottom of the page. Even better, you can visit their YouTube channel where they have quite an extensive collection of videos. "Wealth of knowledge" does not begin to describe Byron's skill set. And I'm not even saying this because I am biased due to our children going to school together. I hope you get to visit soon. 

Elephants in the Room


I’ve been stuck at a crossroads for so long that I’m starting to think if I don’t get a move on, this intersection will soon be named after me. I’m no expert, but it doesn’t seem healthy to set up residence here. 

Last year I wrote a lot about transition. I lived it, gave space for it, named it sacred. Transition became my point of return whenever I felt distracted or overwhelmed by the thought of our homeschool road coming to an end, or the idea of Emily leaving home. I became an expert at allowing for change. Transition was my safety net and I fell into her supportive arms again and again. But now we’re on the other side and I look in the mirror to find a woman I hardly recognize. I’ve been stuck here. I see a woman who no longer feels needed day to day; a woman who is filled with uncertainty as she plans a move to a home she’s yet to find, doing her Virgo best not to feel discouraged; a woman who is walking new territory as she watches her father move through the advanced stages of disease; a woman who loves people and life and has been viewed as the perfect Pollyanna, but lately she looks around and feels such deep grief for where we are as a people, as a species. 

This woman in the mirror is a mystery to me, a mystery that on most days, I don’t feel like solving. Middle age. Empty nest. I’m not the first to be here and I won’t be the last.

Winter came late this year and as much as I’m a winter girl, I’m ready for its departure. I’m sure the depth of all that I expressed above is heightened by cabin fever. I’m craving sun on skin. Maybe you’re feeling it too. 

Anyway. What a navel-gazing post. I can skip over this stuff in the small sharings on Instagram, but when I come here to scratch out what’s truly on my mind, it’s harder to gloss over. There’s a whole bunch of elephants in the room right now, and my hope is that by acknowledging them, I’ll quiet them. Skewed logic, I’m sure, but it’s worth a try. As for that unfamiliar woman in the mirror, the next time I see her I’ll say: Chin up, girl. Stay the course, keep the faith. And for the love of all that is holy, move on from the paralysis of the intersection. Do not live there. And whether it is thirty degrees or eighty, don’t wait another minute... let the warmth of the sun overwhelm your thirsty skin. 

Freedom in Not Knowing


Back in my waitressing days we had a sommelier come to our restaurant with the purpose of teaching front of the house staff proper wine service. It was a brand new restaurant, which offered a unique opportunity for the owner to train his entire team at once, all of us in sync from day one. I remember being taught that once you open and present a bottle of wine six times, you will be an expert. Our teacher was right. I still open wine the same way I was taught all those years ago: turning the bottle and not the blade as I remove the seal; leaving 1 1/2 turns of the corkscrew exposed, ensuring I do not “cork” the bottle. Sometimes I’ll even extend my arm to place the cork - damp side up - in front of the person who ordered the bottle, and of course they are not there. Old habits.

We’re in a sugaring lull right now. Adam thinks we’re done, I’m hoping for one more run. He’s probably right. One thing I failed to mention in my last post is that the length of sugaring season is not only marked by how long the ideal temperature fluctuations can hold out, but by the trees budding. That’s actually the true end of the road. Trees budding can be influenced by temperature, but the timing is most heavily influenced by strength of sunlight, which of course increases as we approach the equinox. So, as much as temperature can affect the season, strengthening sun is the true harbinger of its end. At least that’s how it works around here.

While boiling one night last week, we were talking about how the start of sugaring season can feel clumsy, the first boil all about adjusting gear, gauging temperatures, finding rhythm. I asked Adam if he thinks the old-timers experience similar starts. He said yes, he sees it all the time. Misplaced equipment, squirrel-chewed taplines in need of repair, broken spiles; there’s always something to deal with, always a groove to find. Annual activities such as sugaring, gardening, hunting, canning, etc., are difficult to compare to the quickness with which one learns to open a bottle of wine, or knit a hat, sew a dress, weave a basket, carve a spoon, or move through a sun salutation. For many of us, these once a year events are practiced only a few dozen times in our lives. It can feel like we’re always beginners.

I remember when I learned how to cook, to really cook. I was in my mid-twenties and had discovered Fine Cooking and Bon Appetit magazines, as well as The Food Network. I cooked from those magazines cover to cover, and studied Bobby Flay, Nigella Lawson, and Ina Garten on TV. I also worked in the previously mentioned restaurant at the time, and in those early days, we had an excellent chef. I was front of the house which meant he was more eager to give me a hard time than teach me to cook, but I watched him every chance I got. I watched as he hit the pan with broth and let it reduce to deepen the flavor before adding fresh spinach; I watched as he used a combination of butter and olive oil when cooking breaded cutlets, so they’d crisp to a more golden brown than if using olive oil alone; I watched as he sautéed onions for several minutes but added garlic only at the very end, careful not to let it darken; I watched as he added ingredients to the pan over several minutes, in order of cooking time required; I watched as fresh herbs went in at the end, a quick sauté to release fresh aroma but retain bright color; I watched as he stirred hot broth - one ladleful at a time - into sundried cherry, wild mushroom, and sausage risotto that he stirred and stirred and stirred. I still make that risotto. Actually, I still make several of his recipes, which is kind of crazy to think about because we never exchanged a single word about any of them. I threw myself into cooking and went from being a serviceable cook to a pretty darn good one in about three months. With something like cooking, you can go all in and learn quickly.

I guess it's easier (quicker?) to gain skill with work that is not season-dependent. But when it comes to that which is experienced only once a year? It’s not as simple as “do it six times and you’ll be an expert.” You’ve got to be patient and willing to begin again.

I’m not really sure there is a point to this. Maybe I needed a reminder to go easy on myself. A reminder that there is freedom in not knowing, in not mastering. That maybe for all the comforting familiarity in the repetitive nature of our daily lives, it’s also nice to have some things feel new again. Yeah, that might be the point.

(But if you’re looking for consistently killer wine service with a perfect five ounce pour, any day of the year... I’m your girl.)

Wait for the Other Side

Maple 1

It’s been a near perfect sugaring season so far. Plenty of warm days and cold nights, and just when we feel close to drowning in sap, a cold front moves in which slows down the trees and gives us a chance to catch up on boiling. Today I’ve got another 100 gallons to work through (small potatoes, really) and the wind is howling which should halt the sap flow. The forecast is looking downright frigid for the next week, so that will give the trees another reset before they flow again. Looks like our season will go deeper into March than we often see around here.  

Recently I was asked to contribute a couple of thoughts on mind-body wellness for a project a friend is working on. Additionally, she asked if I could recommend a favorite podcast or similar type of resource. I’m not sure my suggestion was the sort of thing she was looking for, but without a doubt, the one podcast that I’ve logged more hours listening to over any other this past year, is ReWild Yourself, created and hosted by Daniel Vitalis. I love the way Daniel digs deep into our domesticated human experience, challenges taboos, and invites us to pause and reflect on many paradigms. He is a wonderful interviewer: compassionate, intelligent, and pushing boundaries of comfort. Equal to his interviews, I enjoy the start of his show where he does an extensive monologue and Q & A session based on listener questions. If you’re not familiar, I highly recommend checking it out. Just to put it out there, Daniel is not afraid to dive into some pretty adult topics, which I think he does with a great deal of care, respect, and genuine curiosity, but maybe read the show descriptions carefully before randomly hitting play on your next family road trip. A wonderful place to start listening is with any of the episodes featuring Nadine Artemis, founder of Living Libations. Another favorite guest is Arthur Haines, considered to be the premier Botanist in New England, a primitive skills expert, is brilliant beyond compare, and all around interesting guy. But you really can’t go wrong with any episode. 

Not sure how I originally stumbled across Daniel’s podcast, but I thoroughly enjoy the work he is doing, and thought you might like it, too. 

I’ve cycled into a quiet place recently so I don’t have much to report or write about. Guess I’ll just ride it out and wait for the other side. Until then, I hope you’re doing well. xo

It's Time to Dig In

Muddy road 1

Finally made it to the “muddy road property” as some of you have come to call it. Honestly, there are no words to describe stepping into this place. It’s actually kind of funky and maybe even a little odd looking from the outside, but the inside, well... it settles you. I shared the above photo on Instagram and Rachel said, “How could you live anywhere else once you know this exists???” This is the very question we are asking ourselves. 

Over the weekend Adam took me back to the property, this time approaching from the other side of the mountain, the side we’d probably be more likely to come and go from to get to town. It felt a little less treacherous. Like, I could see myself sort of being okay with it. Sure, there would still be days I’d not venture out unless there was an emergency of some sort, but for the maybe 30 days of the year that felt impassable, there’d be 335 more that would be smooth sailing. And I bet with time I’d gain confidence and shave those 30 days down to a mere 28. Tough girl.

We’ll see. Lots of variables, questions, big decisions. But what a sweet sanctuary. 

A few of you have asked the question I’ve been expecting: “I’m confused, I thought you had land that you were planning to build on?” I know right!? Us too! I’ll do my best to explain, just know it is important to me to share this without also sharing the story of extended family members who do not write here. So, I might not be able to explain it perfectly, but hopefully I'll relay the gist of it. Most of you know that our land in Vermont is a piece of what was originally a nearly 400 acre parcel owned by Adam’s grandmother. Through the decades, that land has been divided up among family members, and some to other people in the community. Mostly though, it remains in the family. It’s not crowded by any stretch, with only 7-8 families now occupying the land. Still, after spending time on the ridge, Adam started to get cold feet about adding another dwelling to his grandmother's original acreage. He doesn’t want it to feel too built up. I get it. This might sound crazy to some of you, given the hundreds of overall acres, but land preservation is one of the most important things to Adam, and every time we got close to breaking ground, he just couldn’t do it. Part of this is because there is one (or two) family houses bordering our property that will be coming up for sale at some point in the near future, so it started to make even more sense not to build. Instead, we'd buy an attached property, absorbing its home and land into our parcel and live happily ever after. Easy plan, yes? The problem is, timing is a tricky thing. We all wanted to make this work, and never say never of course, but it turns out that we are feeling more than ready to put down some year round roots up north, and the family members we are most likely to buy from, are not quite ready to move. So, what can you do? Plan B, that’s what!

We’re looking for something that is as close as possible to our family, which given the nature of rural living coupled with slim inventory, “close as possible” is defined loosely. We’re looking at two kinds of properties, the first being the type of place that is a notch above a camp, the second being a more typical but still modestly priced/sized home (such as the muddy road house). Each end of the spectrum presenting different options for our long term plans. 

The right “camp" for us would be a well built small cabin on a fairly good sized piece of land. Possibly not costing more than some people might pay for a brand new truck. Something that we could hold onto and maybe offer as an Airbnb in a few years when one of the family homes on the ridge becomes available; still retaining use of the land for sugaring, timber, hunting, etc. The second option being a more standard year round home, not too big (very important!), with more acreage, and more long term potential. This kind of investment would probably mean we would not be moving to the ridge. But again, never say never. Basically, we want to plant apple trees and berries and nut trees and have more animals and feel a sense of permanence that we have not felt for the last five years. If this means we choose a forever home now, and forgo moving to the ridge in the future, that’s okay. It’s time to dig in. 

Anyway. Hope this clears up any confusion. 

Sugar 1

Back home now where it is full-on sugaring. We’re having a great season so far, collecting anywhere from 25 to 50+ gallons of sap per day, depending on what the weather is up to. Pretty decent haul for our simple backyard operation. The other day while collecting, each of our 2.5 gallon buckets on our 65 taps seemed to be about half full. Then I got to the tree closest to our compost pile and those two buckets were completely overflowing. Some would disagree with the correlation, but I like believing one has to do with the other. A comforting reminder of the good things that happen when we dig in.