Move me.

Today was the first day I spent alone hiking in our new hometown. Over the summer, we devoted our time to acclimating the children to the area…discovering waterfalls, picking berries, hiking trails and meeting neighbors. They started school last week, allowing Smith and I to catch our breath and tune into meeting our own needs. He spent an afternoon fishing last week, and I decided to go hiking solo on the first slow day I had.

This morning, after the kids were safely off to school, I packed snacks and water and headed off to the North Carolina Arboretum, aka, the best place in the world. Alone. Thinking about it on the drive over, it dawned on me that the last time I spent several hours a-l-o-n-e would have to have been at least three months ago, before our move from Florida. I haven’t had a lot of one-on-one time with nature during our transition. I missed it.

As I entered the gardens, I took my time, reading each plant identification label, stopping at the shaded benches along the path to my planned hike. I noted the slow progression into fall, the dogwoods fruiting, leaves of the giant trees beginning to change and asters in full bloom. A warm September morning full of promise and life. Each step I took brought me back to the root of peace, reflection of the Creator. How lucky to be able to spend an entire morning being present in an orchestra of harmonious landscape, giving thanks, admiring the dirt. All dirt is healing…but the dirt here clumps in your hands, no sand running through your fingers, clumps of delicious earth that smell like a luxury spa treatment.

I hiked alone for a couple of miles, no one else on the path. The solitude allowed me to be grateful for all of the upheaval of the last few months, the move, the new schools, the new neighborhood…an adventure into the next chapter of our lives. I had the feeling that amongst my prayers of the last year, the prayer of direction and guidance was surely answered. It’s as though God knew exactly where to put us, almost as if the perfect choice was laid before us with grace and love that only the Creator could provide.

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Spin It

We’re nearing the end of the school year.  Kids can smell summer.  We’ve worked hard all year, hands in the dirt, drenched in sweat and seaweed emulsion….my favorite combination.  Who needs perfume?  This week, we had a break from the garden beds and watched a PBS feature on farmers’ markets, in the air conditioned classroom.  As the garden teacher, I love to bring in healthy snacks for the crew.  Kids are always hungry.  Always.  What goes better with a movie than popcorn?  Nothing.  How about healthy popcorn?  That’s the ticket.  I know better than to call it that, though.  Nobody’s touching healthy popcorn from their gardening teacher.  Instead, I called it fancy foodie popcorn.  The recipe is simple.  Stove-top popping in olive oil with a sprig of rosemary.  Melt a little good butter (no margarine or fake butter product…the real deal), stick another sprig of rosemary in the hot butter.  Lightly coat the popcorn with the rosemary-infused butter, add finely grated Parmesan and sea salt.  Heavenly.  It’s a highly-acclaimed recipe according to my students.  Best popcorn they’ve ever tasted is what I was told :)  

So, yes, I spun it a little bit.  Why not?  Here, we’re eating something that you would eat at a foodie restaurant, a trendy locavore dish.  Yes, it’s definitely healthier than the movie theater.  No, it doesn’t taste like cardboard. 

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Carrots

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We picked some mighty tasty carrots today at the community garden. 

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Our tomatoes, cukes, collards and basil are unstoppable.   A line of kiddos begged for the cucumbers.  Can’t top that.

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Gigantic Cukes

Gigantic Cukes

Went to New Image to garden today, but Mother Nature decided on downpours. I grabbed two mammoth cucumbers and bolted.

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Hay, Hay, Hay.

I went to the feed store.  Because I’m living out this fantasy of being some sort of a farmer.  Small scale, doable garden teacher farmer.  Define that.  Anywho, I went in search of pine straw, elusive pine straw to mulch our beds for the summer.  Feed store man, who I suspect is a cowboy of some sort, sold me some hay instead.  Cynthia Schaefer, you popped into my head when I was buying it!  Loaded it in the van and presented it to my garden students.  Kids love hay.  They want to roll in it, like livestock.  They want to chew on pieces of it, like hillbillies.  And finally, they want to make a rather large mess with it.  It’s all good, though; we succeeded in mulching our two beds and the kids left garden class covered in bits of the stuff, laughing and joyful.  ImageImageImage

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Regrouping and Rebuilding

The beds at New Image’s Community Garden got a much-needed facelift today!  Gone are the rotted out wood planks and in their place, we’ve fashioned concrete block beds.  A group effort resulted in four solid beds, measuring 160 square feet of prime garden real estate.  Image

Papa and Carl know how to break a cinder block in half; I did not :)

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Alfonso and Chris held their own with the grown up volunteers, directing the construction and getting their hands dirty.

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Damon donated supplies to rebuild the beds and several items off of our garden wishlist.  It’s like Christmas in April!  We are truly grateful for his help. 

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Next week, we will mosaic some of the blocks in the beds with the kids. 

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Jack and the Beanstalk at Herban Farms

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Last week’s rain and this week’s sunshine have been the perfect recipe for an explosive week of growth at Herban Farms’ Community Garden.  The tomatoes are spilling out of our beds, collards are the size of elephant ears; cucumber vines are climbing over the broccoli.  It’s a little out of control. 

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Our basil is competing with the green beans, trying capture the title of tallest in the garden.  It’s holding its own at a solid three-feet tall, but I’m betting on the beans. 

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Even the watermelon is blooming!  Get out.

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I can’t wait to see what next week brings.

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