A brand new year, a brand new boy

Spring has returned from a Winter’s rest, full with the sounds of birds and peepers, the first flush of flowers, the smell and feel of turned and warming soil.  So, too, do we return from our busy silence full of news to share with you.  Hopefully we won’t be away for so long next time.  As many of you already know, Clark arrived in dramatic fashion (fashionably late) early on Thanksgiving morning. We sent out e-mails from the Ronald McDonald house, where we lived during his stay in the Kosair Children’s Hospital NICU. We’ve spent the four months since we’ve been home reveling in his smiles, laughter, cuddles, and games; introducing him to family and friends; settling into routines of napping, eating, and working; and even getting familiar with his cries from time to time. It has been delightful and challenging, world-changing, humbling, and uplifting and so much more all at once. We’ve been so blessed that Clark has been healthy and thriving since he was discharged from the hospital, and continued to eat and sleep like a champ even through a monster cold last week.

On his birthday

That’s more like it—home, healthy, and happy!

Also in the interim between our last post and this one, we have received our orders of seeds and chicks, and here, too, are happy to report steady growth. Fifty chicks arrived on February 9 and have braved the cold nights with their heat lamp. Now two months old, the Auracanas and Golden Wyandottes are still chirping like chicks, though they are looking more and more like their clucking sistren. They and the veterans from last fall’s flock enjoy frolicking in the lush green grass that has been absent for so many months. The young birds faithfully wait until dusk to venture out, so this pleasure is fleeting for them. Soon they will mingle with the other hens, a new rooster or two (hopefully) will manifest himself, and the idiosyncracies of chick-hood, like the ambush, will become a memory. 
In addition to caring for Clark through the school week, Carden is managing to fill up the greenhouse—with help from John Bruggman, Stan Hankins, and Maria Leist—with trays of onions, leeks, flowers, parsley, chard, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, boc choi, and collard greens. Sweet onion starts have already found a home in the garden, alongside of last season’s salsify and parsnips. Spinach and radishes, planted in the last two weeks, are poking their heads out from their beds; we’re still waiting to see the peas and carrots (and turnips, beets, onions, lettuce, dill, and cilantro). The brassicas, chard, and lettuce will be moving out to the garden this week, their spots in the greenhouse to be filled by the peppers and tomatoes now germinating in the “germination chamber” (an old fridge with a light bulb for heat). Also, Carden and company have planted several blueberry plants, and the raspberry plants are leafing out.
I returned to school shortly before Clark turned two months old. These past two months seem to have gone by much more quickly than the four before he arrived. This is comforting because surely the next two will fly by as well and summer will be here; but it also cuts me to think how much he has grown and changed in this flying time, and how many more changes will come in these next flying months that I will be working with someone else’s babies (their babies aren’t near as sweet, although I’m sure they once were). I know this is true for all parents, whether or not they work away from home—babies grow up, fast. But the combination of this sad and glorious truth with my missteps as a first year teacher has made for many a tearful dinner conversation about how I don’t want to go back the next day. And yet I have gone back and probably will (for a while longer, anyway), and have learned a good deal about myself in the process. However, these next eight weeks will test us all, as Carden enters his primary planting season with Clark in tow and me at school everyday. With help in the fields and in the nursery, and fairly lucky weather, we’ve managed to stay on target so far for the growing season; we must hope that this help will continue as the work increases in urgency towards the season’s first harvests. We continue to give thanks for the gift and the responsibility that come with deepening our roots in this place on earth, planting crops with their (and our) long-term growth in mind, and bringing a child to live and learn with us.

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