Tuesday, April 15, 2014

We Salute...

The #4H Military Partnerships Grant supports over 50,000 military 4-H youth on installations and communities worldwide. Today, we #PurpleUp and celebrate those youth and military children everywhere.  

Thank you for your sacrifice. 

My family is a family of veterans. Today we proudly wear purple to salute and support military children and their families.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Bounty of Spring

   I spent as much time as physically possible in the garden this weekend; so many chores needed done. The appearance of well rounded cabbage heads brought to mind my grandmother's old crock which we filled to the brim every year.

   Down in the garden Grandma has a knife in hand and large buckets to fill; spring cabbage is ready for harvest. Pulling back the large outer leaves, she cuts the large firm heads. My job is to load them into the buckets as she chops them but the fresh spring air and warm sparkling sunshine keep distracting me.
   Back in the big farm kitchen the cabbage heads are washed before the hard cores are cut out. One by one the cabbages are shredded into fine pieces and sprinkled with plenty of fine salt. Worked and wrenched the salty shreds fill bowl after bowl all around the room. Time for the big brown crock to make it's way to the garage....we're making sauerkraut.
   In the coolness of the garage, Grandma fills the large crock with the salty wet cabbage shredded the day before..the wooden 'plate' is set in it's place to weight the cabbage under it's juices. It takes forever for cabbage to become kraut! Yet, as we daily 'churn the kraut' our minds wander to the various things she will make with this tasty treat: kraut and hot dogs, even my favorite sauerkraut pizza!
   Day after day we wait for the kraut to be just right..then packing and canning and setting on the scary basement shelves.

     In my own very southern kitchen, kraut is made in much smaller quantities; I am the only one who eats it. It seems no matter what, when I start the process it always brings my heart back home.

Friday, April 11, 2014

I Love It When

I love it when:
I am on my knees
elbow to elbow with a mess of kids
exploring the wonders of fresh poured soil;
I am shoulder to shoulder
seeing the light in a student's eyes
because I trust them with the skillet;
I am side swiped
in a isle
at a store
recognized by one of my kids;
I am seeing the soul
that still remains
in a difficult child.
I love it when
at the end of the day
my mind recalls
all the little things
and I realize
they are very big things.
My job is tough;
the students are tougher;
the system is tough;
but determination,
and hope still exist.
We just have to be willing
to find it.
I love it when some one asks me why I do what I do.

I'd Rather Be...

     Today was a day in the office; the place I'd rather not be. Confined by the beige walls, tucked away from natural light and beauty.. the office is, well, confining. Meetings and paperwork have their place and I respect their need, however, there is a place I'd rather be.
      I'd rather be tip toeing through a garden filled with bloom and wonder.. gazing at the sunlight as it filters through the canopy... absorbing color, beauty  and sound... breathing in fragrance and life. The moment I arrive at home, my feet can't help but make their way to one of the three gardens we keep. The victory garden hold a greenhouse filled with beautiful greens of variant colors: dark and light green with hues of blue, shiny green with deep red veining, and green so pale it almost seems white. Outside of it there lies fruit bushes just leafing out, winter greens gone to seed with tiny flowers white and yellow. Fresh spring peas filling out among their vines near young lettuce and kale just about ready to harvest. Wild chickweed creeps ever closer from the tree line needing a hearty trim to keep it at bay.
       In the larger garden by the well, old fashion tea roses peeked open today offering a hint of dainty color. Pears, apples, strawberries and blueberries hide among the foliage near the jujube and the black berry canes. Here new tomato sets hide among mustards gone to seed, and pepper starts play peek-a-boo between the winter onions. I spotted squash starts and pole beans peeking through the leaf mulch- I'm amazed the chickens haven't pecked them to death. Wait till they see the melons start to vine.
          My final stop is the herb garden; close to the house for easy strolling. There fresh green seems to burst from ever inch. Fragrance and beauty are sprouting and flourishing just enough to give mystery to newly added toad homes and a stray white goose figure. These will hopefully be joined by more hidden secrets as we consider a story book garden for the soon-to-arrive grand baby. I ponder what time we may spend together here, seeking a buzzing bee or a flitting butterfly.. maybe even spying a lizard to two.
             Just as my soul starts to relax, replacing the chaos with calm, the barnyard calls with duties to fill; still not as hectic as my day. One last breath of apple mint before I head that way. I tuck a sprig in my pocket where I can call upon it later when I need a soothing reminder of the peace and joy all found in my garden.. always the place I'd rather be.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Hard Lesson

    Weekly in-garden activities are the highlight of my week. Who wouldn't love 40 students squealing with delight over strawberries and ladybugs, tomato blooms and radish sprouts? My weekly garden adventures are usually full of wonder and excitement, but this week held a different lesson.

Read the rest here