How do we slow this season?

Peonies and each school year go so fast. Can we slow things down?My peonies are in their glory, bursting from tight round knobs to fluffy, frilly fullness. For days before they burst forth, I peeked in on them. Not yet. But the knobs swelled, the ants got active. And then one day last week, I watched the first unfurl. As I went back and forth pulling weeds, getting compost, hustling to get the ends of the vegetable garden planted, I saw it loosen and spread its petals.

Since then I’ve barely had time to glance at them. I cut a few to bring in with their showy color and scent. But it’s been a whirlwind of end of year school activities and appointments and work deadlines.

I want to slow it all down.

I want to enjoy the peonies while they are here, before they make way for morning glory and sunflower and lily. Before them lilac and forsythia seemed to rush by this year. Or was it me rushing. Or was it time speeded up again.

Yesterday was the last preschool pick up I’ll do. Ever. I’ve been so focused on all the things that needed to be done—the field trip permission slip to sign, remembering to pack a lunch, helping out at field day, special snacks, teacher’s gifts (not done yet)—I lost sight of this transition.

Four years ago, I brought my big girl to preschool and my little one tagged along, so eager for her turn. She washed hands, created her own sign in on the board, burst into an activity. She couldn’t wait for her turn to stay.

Two years ago, I hugged her goodbye in her classroom. Her turn finally. The past four years did not feel that fast, but I look up surprised that we are here, ready to say goodbye to her preschool for good.

She’s moving just next door to kindergarten. We will see her teacher’s still. But I won’t see them each morning and hear how things are going. I won’t watch as my little girl washes hands, hangs up her bag, rushes to the board to sign in. I won’t chat with her or watch her with her friends as she starts her day.

She can’t wait for kindergarten. I’m excited too. The long swaths of the day from the morning bus stop to the afternoon squeak of bus breaks is alluring. What will you do? Work. Write. Run, maybe. Yoga. Take care of the errands that never seemed to fit between preschool pick up and bus time. It can fill so quickly. Right now I’m trying to breathe into it, not let it get filled to fast with any old thing. Right now, I’m realizing what we are done with.

No more preschool or preschool payments. No more drop offs and pick ups. No more playing in the park at noon or lunches together. No more naps.

But she is riding a bike and picking out words she knows. She is going on her first overnight with my parents next week.

Each ending a beginning. Last year my big girl was devastated by the end of the year. Little girl doesn’t seem to care about this ending. She’s already looking ahead, wanting to keep up with her big sister, wanting to do the things she Peonies will fade to lilies and sunflowers. Preschool to kindergarten to first grade. Slow down.can’t do yet.

She raced through these years like the forsythia and lilacs and peonies this year. We’ll come back to this space again next June, transitioning again. We’ll say goodbye again next year, closing the door on kindergarten. The peonies will bloom again. I’ll wait for them. I’ll savor them, be sad when they go. And I’ll love the lilies that bloom and the curving garlic scapes and the tall sunflowers towering over me. Can we just slow it all down a little?

A year of growing

It’s finally spring, though some days it feels we’ve skipped ahead to summer. It’s the smell of something on the grill and waving to neighbors walking by during dinner. It’s kids stopping to play and moms sharing a drink. It’s thinking we can stay out all evening in the golden light, only to remember school tomorrow, early morning, bedtime.

This spring/summer weather means smoothies outside instead of movie and popcorn after school. It means helping buckle bike helmets and pushes on the trapeze. It means washing feet and checking for ticks every day.

It’s the season for checking my greens every day to see if I’ll need to buy spinach or lettuce next week. It’s dragging the hose to water the little pockets of my garden I’ve planted so far. It’s getting ready for planting all the stuff that doesn’t like the cold (and the stuff that does that I haven’t managed to get in yet).

Monday so many things seemed to come in to bloom all of a sudden. The violets that I wanted for a science experiment flowered. My tulips bloomed. The cherry tree down the way was abuzz with bees. It felt like a long winter. Finally, really spring.

One year ago today, I launched this blog. I set out to create a space to write about growing and food and family and the connections of all those things, and I guess I’ve done that even if it doesn’t look exactly like what I was imagining.

I’m going to be playing with this space over the summer. I may be less regular and trying new things as I continue to focus on the themes of write, nourish, and grow. Thanks for reading and sharing with me this past year.

New life / lost life

Writing prompt: use a poem as a starting pointI read this poem recently and loved the imagery and sensory details, the full sense of spring and life and death.

This line stuck with me:

New life heals lost life

Does it? I could argue both ways.

I could tell you about how having a baby one year after my first baby died broke me open to joy again. Or how the everyday life things—diapers and feeding and soothing—took the place of life and death issues. How even as I continued to grieve deeply and fully and actively, I had to focus on life, the new little life that needed me.

I could tell you that now, almost eight years since I became a mother, seven and a half since I became a grieving one, that I am healed—and not.

Here’s the thing: there is great joy in my life. I love my girls fully and deeply. And I miss their brother. I wonder who he would have been. I wonder who I would have been as his mother if he were here. I’m not stuck in what would have been, but sometimes something within me is stuck. And then I break open again. Things move. Life happens.

New life heals lost life.

This line at another time would have filled me with anger. One life does not replace another. But new life does bring its own wonder and joy and energy. It doesn’t replace, but yes, maybe it heals.


This time of year is full of new life: the yellow spills down the forsythia bush, the hops and rhubarb expand daily, my garlic has turned from single small spikes to little green v’s. I water where I’ve laid down seeds and count the days until I cut spinach and lettuce for a salad. Its a time of growth. It’s a time of possibility and potential.

This time of year, I mark the growth—the violet plants greening my garden, the tulips swelling before bloom, the little girl who once chatted with me in the garden today a teenager, the baby I brought to story hour at the library in her car seat now walking there with her preschool class—and hold the potential of the seeds and once baby turned preschooler with time racing her toward teenager.

Late April, early May I am so aware of the potential around me and I remember the potential that was in me. Even having that potential cut short, I believe in life. I believe that the seeds I sow will sprout and grow. I believe that the baby turned preschooler will grow to be a teenager like the one I walked down the driveway to say happy birthday to this morning. I believe that they will keep going, keep growing.

This time of potential, this time of new life, this time of hope. It keeps coming, keeps growing, and I watch it unfold. I keep growing and hoping and opening to that potential.

New life heals lost life. What do you think?





What are you saving for?

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.blank journal—what will you write?

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.

Saving it.

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.What will you write today?

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.

Grow is an online writing retreat—www.sarabarry.comIf 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!

A tiny patch of hope—let’s grow

Today while I waited for the bus, I saw this:

March garden—tiny patch of hopeDoesn’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.

Or hope.

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?

Grow is an online writing retreat—

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.