“Can we go out an play in the puddles?”
“Not today. Too cold.” It was gray all day and grew rawer as the day went on. Our wood stove is cranking out heat again after a few days off. And I know my kids and our neighbors didn’t just want to splash in puddles in their rain boots, they wanted to run and romp and roll in them. They wanted to dump murky water over each others’ heads and need an outdoor shower before they could come in the house.
They did that—with our okay—last year. We okayed it because the spring sunshine made it hard to head home and get ready for bed and there was a little wine left from dinner and they were so excited about it.
I okayed it because I remembered my mom saying yes, some 30+ years before on vacation in New Hampshire. I remembered the sheer joy of jumping and splashing and lolling in the mud, the soft-grittiness of it. I smiled thinking about lying down in the puddle like it was a tub. I remember laughing and dripping in my teal terry cloth romper (forever stiff with dirt after that), my favorite outfit that summer.
Today was too late, too cold, but one day last spring I said, “Yes.”
“Remember when mom let us roll around in that big mud puddle?” My sister and I both do.
My little one asks me for stories about me when I was little every day on the way to school. I always begin, “Once upon a time, when I was a little girl . . . ” stalling, trying to come up with a story I haven’t told her. She doesn’t care though, as long as it’s not too short, so I tell her about the mud puddle and the time we went camping and I woke up in my own bed. I tell her about the time I went missing but was in my garden the whole time and about my sister’s rabbit that peed on me and the time the neighbor’s horse charged at my dad while he was getting our new bikes out of the car.
I wonder what stories she and her sister will remember and retell.
What memory has stuck with you since you were a child? What family stories do you retell?
Share your stories in comments or with somebody in your family.
Take some time to write today—and join me for a month of writing with Grow. We’ll connect with those stories that have stuck with you and the moments right now that you want to stick. You don’t have to say yes to puddle jumping, but say yes to some creative time and support for you.
I’m a saver. As a kid, I had stickers with my name on them that I rarely used because maybe there would be a better use for them down the line.
To this day, I still have notepads that say “A Big note from Sara” that I got when I was maybe 10. Saved. Then not really of interest. It’s become scrap paper.
I bought this journal in the spring of 1993 when I was studying in Italy. It’s still empty.
When I bought it, I was in the middle of another journal, so I set it aside to use later. Except when I finished that journal, I didn’t pick up the pretty marbled one.
Over the years I intended to use it as a travel journal or fill it up with quotes I love. Didn’t happen.
Since I bought that journal, I’ve filled up steno pads and spiral bound blank books, composition notebooks and clearance rack journals. I wasn’t quite ready to use that book. It seemed too pretty, too expectant.
That marbled book from Italy is up next. I’ll launch it with a carefully chosen pen and neat writing, and then I’ll hop into bed some night grab the crappy ballpoint that doesn’t really flow. I’ll scrawl out my frustrations and scribble out the wrong word. And it will be okay, because those words—mundane or wise, well or ill chosen—matter.
I have years of words journals and notebooks. There are places where I tried to hard or was too tired or couldn’t quite find the words I wanted. Within all that are the stories that make up my life, the moments that crushed me or held me afloat. Within the pages of my notebooks and journals there are patterns that show the parts of me that stay steady and the slow, incremental changes over time.
Do you have a journal that you aren’t using? Start filling it up.
Sit for 15 minutes and write about what you see right in front of you or daydream about what you’d do with a day all to yourself or list places you want to visit. Make a grocery list to prove to yourself those blank pages aren’t sacred. And then start filling them up with your ideas and observations and memories and dreams. Your words and ideas are worthy.
If you’re looking for some inspiration to fill up that journal or want some encouragement getting those words out on paper, join me for Grow, an online writing retreat, this April.
We’ll write regularly, make space for things you love, take time to really notice the world around and within us, and build deeper connections.
Come write, come grow with me!
Today while I waited for the bus, I saw this:
Doesn’t look like much does it?
But it’s my garden.
A little more melt and the rhubarb will start unfurling while we watch. A little more snow retreating and I’ll sprinkle spinach seeds and look for hints of cilantro in the herb section. Overly optimistic? Maybe. Yeah, a little.
But closer to the house, on the sunny side, the ground is truly bare. The mounds where the hops grow, the ever weedy flower bed that runs along the playroom, the patch of daily lilies by the back door—clear of snow.
Today while I waited for the bus, after I spied that tiny patch of garden ground, I picked up the kids’ rake, which had loitered by the back door all winter, and started raking out brown leaves and dead debris by the back door.
Then I squatted in my winter coat and tugged dead grass from the border. My fingers wiggled into the cold damp earth and came out muddy and chilled. I only poked for a few minutes, but when I went in they smelled like dirt. Ah, spring.
Snow still covers most of my yard and almost all of my garden. Yet I yearn to get out there and start planting. Today I scratched in the dirt.
Call it desperation.
I have my seeds. I’m ready to plant them. I’m ready to grow.
What are you yearning to do? What baby steps are you taking?
I’m looking forward to the growing season, and to Grow, my online writing retreat for spring. Come plant your ideas and see them bloom. I’d love to write with you.
I love letters. I have a big box of them in my attic from my parents and grandparents, sisters and friends.
I remember the excitement of finding a personally addressed envelope in my mailbox at college and the joy of finding one in the perpetually locked mailbox at my apartment in Italy where we had to fish them out with a wire coat hanger. They came in thin red and blue edged air mail envelopes and business sized envelopes and homemade envelopes folded from magazine pages.
I don’t get many letters these days. I don’t write that many either. But recently, I’ve been reading letters for research, and it reminded me how much I love letters, how different they are from Facebook posts or even usually email. So I wrote a letter about the weather and memories and what I’m reading and dreams.
I wrote to a friend who shared some writing with me last fall during my Abundance retreat. I love what I learned about the texture of her days from that shared writing. I want to know and share that texture.
I want to know how you feel when you look at your brand new baby or at your big one who’s starting to drive. I want to know what the piles of snow (or the flowers starting to bloom) look like outside your window. I want to know I’m not alone (you aren’t either).
I want to swap the old stories and remember who we were (are we still those people?). I want to share new ones and see who we are now and what our lives look like—not the holiday card round up, but the day to day life.
As I wrote my letter, the sky was winter white. When I went out, I was excited to wear shoes instead of boots and surprised that I didn’t need a coat. As I drove home, though, snow spit and swirled. It’s a confused time of year.
That energy I talked about last week is flowing, but sometimes I can’t figure out the direction. But tonight for a moment, I didn’t need a direction. For a moment, both my girls snuggled in beside me, clean and in jammies, and I read to them from Farmer Boy, a book I read over and over all through my childhood. They were cranky, we were running late for bed, but for that moment we were still and shared that story.
Write a Letter. Share a piece of your story. Take few minutes to write a letter to a friend. Share something about your life, your day to day, your dreams.
What’s going on in your life today?
You don’t have to write me a letter, but share in comments a moment or detail that stuck with you today.
And if you love connecting through writing and are ready to capture more of your story—the day to day, the big stuff—I’d love to have you join me in April for the Grow retreat.
We’re not quite here yet. There’s still a lot of snow covering the snowdrops, but it’s slowly melting and retreating. We’ll see them soon (I hope).
We’re in that messy middle season between winter and spring, when boots are necessary but sometimes you can skip a coat (and sometimes you can’t skip a coat but you do out of hope). The ground is still deeply blanketed with snow, but around the edges mud and dead grass are revealed, a little more each day.
Water flows down the driveway as ice and snow yield to the sun. And finally, it seems, the sap is running. I started going to sugar shacks two weeks ago, lured by pancakes and tradition, and the need for something to look forward to. We’ve visited three sugar shacks already, though I knew they weren’t boiling yet and any steam billowing was mere water.
But this week, it seems the sap is running, and I can feel the energy changing around me—and in me. I’m shaking off the sluggishness of winter. My body tells me to get moving, get running again. Ideas are flowing in a rush, and I’m trying to keep up, trying to collect and boil them down to their sweet essence.
Do you feel that shift too? Is spring flowing in you?
What are you doing with your spring energy?
It was a simple salad, but so satisfying.
There isn’t a whole lot going on in the garden, aside from the weeds that are ready to take over. A look at my garden journals suggests I’m always hopeful and waiting impatiently this time of year. I’m eager for anything to pick; my kids are too.
“What that red round thing?” my big girl asked, bending to show me. It was a radish—and there were more. We picked them, red, pink, and white. I looked around and realized that we had plenty of greens for a salad.
“And what about these?” K asked pointing to the purple chive flowers.
“Yes, we can eat those. And some johnny-jump-ups too.”
She picked flowers and some chives. Both girls helped spin the salad (a favorite kitchen helping job). E tore the lettuce, spinach, and mustard greens. And K asked to cut the radishes. I looked at the sharp knife. I looked at her. I handed her the knife, showed her how to place her hands, and watched. She sliced carefully, if not neatly. She tried a piece, and I was surprised she liked it. Maybe it will be a salad summer.
We tossed the greed, red, white, yellow, purple together in a wooden bowl—and served it with grilled steak, potatoes & onions, and asparagus (planting asparagus is still on my long-term garden to do list). I opened a bottle of wine from a friend, and the girls put johnny-jump-ups in their water. It was a lovely spring spread.
We’re on the verge of summer—a few more weeks before the official start, another week and a half before the end of school. I lose track of time around dinner, and bed time creeps later. We sat out at the picnic table last night in the late light. In my mind it was a glorious evening, though thinking back, it was kind of gray and the mosquitoes were starting to come out. Still we’re on the verge of summer, we were outside, and we were finally eating something from the garden.