The Spring Equinox

On Nature

Last Saturday our (last) local farm celebrated the Spring Equinox by holding a Greenhouse Openhouse here in our seaside village. My family and I helped with the event, and had a good time observing the changing of the seasons. A couple of Celtic fiddlers played by the wood stove in the greenhouse, while my husband cooked beef stew – made by one of the farmers from their own locally-raised, grass-fed beef – over an open fire.

We dyed wooden eggs using all vegetable dyes, colors made from beets and carrots and all sorts of edible stuff. Once you start digging into the rituals surrounding it, there are so many inspiring, wacky and awesome ways to celebrate the turning of the seasons. People also took part in planting seeds, literally helping the farm grow.

My kids played in the mud all day, while occasionally complaining about not being at home playing video games. Eventually the complaints died down. Either they finally gave up or – I hope – forgot about the allure of technology for a couple of hours at least.

The air was crisp, the stew was hot, and the greenhouse smelled like warm dirt. It was a great day.

(For more, check out my post on Steemit)

Beef stew over an open fire

Dyeing wooden eggs in honor of Spring.

Taking a Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt

Downton Abbey, Season 6, Episode 1: The Birds & the Bees & Mrs. Hughes

The Beginning of the End

Who among you didn’t get a little lump in your throat at the opening credits, knowing that this is the last first time you’ll watch a brand-new Downton Abbey in a brand-new year? For the last six years we’ve anticipated this show every January; it gave us something to look forward to as we emerged from the holidays. And now it is all coming to an end.

It is coming to an end — just like all them big ol’ English country houses came to an end, the ones packed with furniture and paintings and silver, with servants stacked from cellars to rafters like cordwood. Sometimes you just got to call it, to quote Lord Neighbor-who-auctioned-off-his-stuff: you’ve got to “stop hanging on to what is no longer supportable”. And lest we all get too sentimental, let us remember that Downton Abbey, however wonderful the show once was, is no longer supportable. It’s time to put the old girl down. But first! We shall enjoy many last suppers around the table with the Family Grantham, many below-stairs antics, and many, many discussions about how the times just continue to change and change and change.

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A Book Party!

Book Project cover

Book cover

Not too long ago (June, to be exact), my friend Mary Faino and I released a book through her small press, Paper Mermaid Press.

It’s called A Day in Rockport, and highlights some of the gems, hidden and otherwise, of this coastal New England village. Mary illustrated the book and I wrote the text. It was a bit of a backwards process — usually the text comes first in children’s books. But in this case, I think it works, as the illustrations are so lush they practically speak for themselves.

Mary and I have been meeting together over the last few years, partly to work on the book and partly to drink tea and talk about Rockport, and even beyond, if we’re feeling cosmopolitan.

We would love to have you join us this weekend at Mary’s shop, The Paper Mermaid, 57 Main Street in Rockport, for a Book Party! Lots of treats, framed prints from the book, a Scavenger Hunt, and a book reading (don’t worry, the book is a short one) will be part of the fun.

Hope to see you there!

Poster

Local Culture

Local culture is one of those trendy phrases that permeate, well, local culture (and beyond), but shoring up local culture is where I spend most of my energy. Why do I do this? For reasons that go way beyond nostalgia, way beyond trying to capture a sense of a simpler time. Life wasn’t necessarily better in the past in so many ways, but in our technological race to improve our lot in life, we are losing many of the distinctive aspects of the human experience, much of it having to do with occupying a unique place in the world, being surrounded by unique culture.

It’s too much to get into right now, especially because when I do bother to write a blog post or update the site, The Roving Home is given to an overview of things — aesthetics lite, if you will. I don’t usually go into the heavy duty reasons for why I’m involved with the particular events I’m involved with, but maybe I should do this more. Do more explaining about the investment of time, money and energy I put into building and restoring a sense of place. We often hear of the problems that come with the homogenization of America, and, on a larger scale, the effects of globalization in flattening cultures. We hear about it so often that it has lost its power to affect us. Or maybe we don’t even understand what the big deal is. But it is always worth a pause to consider what we are throwing away before we toss it: your grandmother’s recipe for kielbasa? Your dad’s banjo? Your uncle’s old fishing gear? This applies to buildings and furniture as well as songs, heirloom seeds and ideas. Please think before you throw, as the recycling adage goes.

We need to pay attention to what we have around us before it is completely gone and we are all eating the same industrialized waste and sleeping in reassembled flat-pack beds from IKEA (at least the beds will be attractive, some small consolation).

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Lo, The Summer is Over

I’ve been quiet all summer — at least online. In the real world I’ve been my usual self, blabbing on and on in a manner that transcends the seasons. But the summer is over, and now it is time to turn my attention to the virtual side of things. Maybe I associate spending hours on the internet with cooler days and crisp nights, parallel to the intense desire to sit around by the fireside that kicks in every fall. Anyway, not to overthink it or anything. The point is I’m back. Here. Posting.

Starting with a summer album of sorts. Even though my online self has been comatose, my offline self has been racing around working on various things, some of which I’ll post about during the coming weeks. But as far as summer projects go, visits to family were mixed in with various creative projects, including our town’s weekly farmers’ market and the Madden Road Music Fest in Ohio, which was held on the farm this year. The ol’ homeplace, in folk song parlance. Continue reading

Making Music with the Family

A few weeks ago my brother, who is a songwriter and musician, and my niece and nephews, who have a band and play with my brother for as many of his gigs as they can, stayed at our house for a week while they did some recording and made a few stops on their Northeast mini-tour in support of their new album Blinded Again. The band crammed in a lot on this early spring visit: a supper around the fire out in the woods (cold. so very cold), a few beach walks, trips to Boston and lots and lots of music-making. Our living room was stuffed with instrument cases and instruments: a cello, fiddle, a couple of guitars, a couple of banjos, a mandolin and more covered every available surface. It was a great and crowded week, and we missed them as soon as they pulled out of the driveway. I can tell I’m getting older because I kept wanting to ruffle their hair and hug them and talk about how “special” it was to have them all staying with us. And I wanted to bake them cookies and extra food to take with them on their various excursions out of the house, though I didn’t do too much of the latter. I was too tired from all the excitement. Which is further confirmation that I am getting old.

If you like indie-folk, traditional Americana style music, check out their music:

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The band, looking cool in every sense of the word.