To everything there is a season– it’s been said a million times and known the world over but it sounds new and true to me today. In my small corner of the world, these past couple of months have been a season of planting seeds, a time of preparation. I have been sitting underground with my thoughts, myself as though a seed, not yet ready to emerge from the ground with a complete, resolved story to tell you. Am I going to leave my thankless part-time job? Is it time for us to grow our family? Should Travis and I start a business of our own some day, and should I start planning now? What are we going to do about our church disagreement? This beautiful spring has given me some solace from these questions–the sunny mornings and warm afternoons, the birds chirping, the moist soil beckoning me to dig in. This is our first spring in the new home, our first in a house with a real yard, and I awake with a deep yearning to grow things. What exactly is more uncertain. It’s a stirring feeling in my gut that tells me change is afoot. I started by pruning the fledgling fruit trees at the back of the yard. Then I planted seeds for flowers called “bee’s friend,” hoping to attract some humming activity to our backyard. I also planted some snapdragon seeds and another seed for a flower called “clarksia” that I happened upon at the library seed exchange. Both of these have emerged from the ground, tiny little hopes for future flowers, two or three leaves at most right now. Then, hidden behind the large shed I found a sort of greenhouse: a covered rack full of pots and seed starter mats which appeared to be long forgotten. I cleared space and, using the seed starter mats, I tentatively planted two different kinds of tomatoes and basil. I’ll move them to pots when they are bigger and the nights are warmer, assuming I can keep them alive until that time. Some day I imagine I will grow a large vegetable garden, sprawling with tomatoes and peppers and peas, but this year, pots feel an ambitious enough beginning, especially considering my lack of a green thumb. In some way I hope that growing these seeds will help me sprout up from the dirt myself somehow.
Meanwhile, Cadel is growing up and up. He has many shirt sleeves that barely reach his wrist, and pants that hit him above the ankle when just a couple of weeks ago I swear they fit perfectly. He is forming full sentences. My baby is becoming a little boy. Our pediatrician mentioned to me once that she thinks the true “baby” stage lasts until about age two. While my heart tells me our babies always remain our babies, I also have to admit that what she said seems to be true. Cadel will be two in July.
The sun is rising earlier now, but there was a brief and beautiful period of just a couple of weeks in which its rising was perfectly in sync with our waking. I would take my sweet-smelling baby from his crib to the chair by the window in the living room that faces the Cascade Mountains to the east, and he would nurse as we both eased into the day watching the sky turn vivid, awe-inspiring shades of coral and magenta and violet as the sun surfaced from the horizon and lit up the mountains, clouds, and sky. Now those days have passed, and I know also the day is coming when Cadel will no longer want or need to greet the day by cuddling in that chair with his mama.
As a mother, I feel the flow of the seasons so much more powerfully than ever before, and I have at times felt lost in the intense movement. The comings and goings, the constant firsts and lasts. Where is my resting place? I have struggled to find my anchor.
For now, I find some comfort in the greater community of mothers. Not in any specific group of real people, though I do have some great mom friends, but in the larger sense of the word. Sometimes, at a random point in my day, maybe while chopping vegetables or sorting laundry or sweeping the floor, I will all of a sudden feel part of the immense, awesome community of women around the world, struggling to grow things, to constantly adapt ourselves, always working. As I’ve been sitting with my new role as mother, I’ve been trying to figure out what it is exactly that I am called to do and where I will find myself. So far I’ve learned this much: we women grow things. We lay down roots and we grow. We nurture, prune, weed, tend. We plant from our guts, always with our instincts. We do all of this and more in a world that is fearful and distrustful of our instinctive nature and our power. Where does our strength come from? Probably from many different places, but certainly from our solidarity as growers and gardeners, each of us up to our elbows in dirt as our jobs often require.
Apple season is long behind us but there is still not much other local fruit at the store (with the notable exception of rhubarb, which wasn’t yet available the few weeks ago when I made this dessert). Granny Smith apples are sturdy and hold up well through the winter, and their tartness is perfect for apple desserts. I made this simple crisp as a celebration for Travis beginning a new job.
5 large or 6 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored, cut into 1/4-1/3″ wedges
about 1/2 cup sugar (enough to generously coat the apples, but no more)
1/4 cup each brown rice flour, all-purpose flour, and quinoa flakes*
4 tbsp butter, at room temperature
4 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400F. In a large bowl, toss the apple slices with the sugar. Let stand while making the topping.
In a small bowl, combine of the remaining ingredients. Rub the butter in until the mixture is evenly moistened and has formed nice clumps.
Scrape the apple and sugar mixture, along with any accumulated juices, into a small baking pan (I used a ceramic dish measuring roughly 10″x6″).
Sprinkle the topping evenly over. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until browned and bubbly. (Check to be sure the apples are cooked to desired tenderness by poking with the tip of a paring knife. If the top becomes too brown before the apples have become as soft as you’d like, place a piece of foil loosely over the top of the pan and continue baking until the apples are done).
Serve with ice cream.
Makes enough for about 6 people.