Today the little girls finally convinced me to go out into the sunshine with them. They are already getting a bit brown being out in these early April sunny days. Sun in moderation is a good thing, I reminded a friend who had come with her husband who was fixing some plumbing in the house. And she reminded me of something I teach—that jaundice is often easily dismissed with breastmilk and a little time for baby in the sunlight of a closed window. (Okay that and avoiding Pitocin, declining the Hep B shot, and most of all protecting him from early cord clamping.) Another friend puts jars of water in her window to lets them become saturated with the sun before she drinks them. After studying Masaru Emoto's work I think she's really onto something.
Anyway on to a few more, I assure you, very pertinent tangents, I and my girls ages 9, 6, and 3 did some spring clean up by fixing the rock circles we made last year around some little self-started trees in the yard. I don’t know if they will ever come to anything, but in our area of wide open, remote and beautiful Nevada, at least on our family ranch, there are very few trees. They could easily be counted. So if trees self-start right out in the yard, I am going to do something about it.
We also pushed some big, old tree stumps under the shade of some trees my mother lovingly hauled water to for many years when I was a child. Maybe the four of us will sit and read together there some of these days that are getting warmer….
Our labors in the yard today might sound idyllic if you didn’t know about all of the tires, buckets of black oil, and even old trucks strewn around by my 17 year old son. I must confess that our other yards looked somewhat the same when he was the age of his little sisters. He’s always been busily working on something. I guess I could say, “Get this place cleaned up! It isn’t even our yard. It’s Grandpa’s yard.” He has so many other things on his mind. Such is the life of the mother of a seventeen year old son such as he is. If you don’t have a son who is 17 and you say, “My son will never be like that” he probably will. If there were still actually a lawn as there was before my mother died, he would probably be mowing it, because he loves to mow—I never paid him either. I knew if I did, he might get the idea that I thought it was my idea that he mow the lawn and stop. I could just clean the yard up myself I guess if some of the tires weren’t so huge.
Instead I sit on the tires and watch my kids do tricks on my old swing set I’ve repainted purple with white spots. It had lain in a blown over heap for years until I rescued it and put it up again for my kids and their cousins.
But perhaps I shouldn’t tell you what the yard looks like. I guess I won’t win the blogger’s award, if there is one, for the most blissful life and the most gorgeous yard. And there are days right now I’m just hanging in there. Life is just that way some days. Sometimes there is even a moldy cluster of broccoli in the bin in the fridge. I want perfection, I really do. But there are those days I just have to concede and know it was a really good day if I did something memorable with my children.
Today was a great day. In fact we were having such a good time that, even though it was getting close to lunch time, we cut up a few oranges and walked way down to our special place in the field, The Willows.
It’s one of the huge patches of very old willow trees that dot the fields of our ranch (I guess you could call the short, bushy-topped things trees after years of growing there long enough to have trunks.) We were delighted to find our old rusty chair still intact. It had been hauled down from the mountain and has survived two fires (they don’t make ‘em like they use to!). The four of us worked together last fall to carry it to our spot.
Our table, made from an upside down round black tub that a particular cattle feed supplement comes in, had survived the winter well also. My girls and I used it for our school books last fall–there in our special, open air classroom among the willows.
Today they ran to see if the dead cow they found last year way over in a different area of the willow patch was still there. They called it, “The Corpse.” Such is the life of ranch kids. Animals die sometimes, that’s a fact of life. They watched the new baby calves across the fence, picked up rocks, and found two owl feathers, and a very old, old spoon.
So it was a really, really great day if it’s true as they say that a quality life is measured in moments. And as I sat in the old rusty chair sharing orange quarters with my children, it sure felt like a good day. I hope they thought so too. I hope they remember like I will.
I think there really is something to designing one’s life to not miss out on what really counts. My nineteen year old is already out beginning his life’s missions. After awhile my seventeen year old will perhaps find even this ranch of many acres to be too small. Little children really do grow up I am learning. My oldest daughter is already 14. When my little ones are too grown up to want to go to the willows anymore with me, I will probably take the old rusty chair and put it in the barn. I'm not betting the self-started trees will have survived. But I am hoping my children will carry with them the memories of these days.
I’m hoping these memories will make a difference in the kinds of people they become. In fact, I’m betting my whole life on it. And I believe it's worth it.