The Flume Gorge :: New England Adventures

7.16.2019


When my dear friend from Montgomery came for a visit, I took advantage of her kind heart and adventurous spirit to check out some local places before Ben's family came. One of the places that has been on my list since before we moved was The Flume Gorge up in Fraconia area. It did not disappoint. 


When Ben's family arrived, the first adventure we went on was to the Flume. it's such a beautiful space and is significantly cooler due to the waterfall and walking between two rock faces. If you ever find yourself in NH and are looking for something to do, this is well worth your time. It's very kid friendly, although it isn't stroller friendly (stairs and waterfalls don't mix well with strollers.) but our kids loved the adventure of it.  (Ages: 2,4,6)


 Plants are very well identified as you walk along, and if you go the Flume website, they have a scavenger hunt that you can print out and later take to the information desk where they give stamps and stickers for completion (much to the delight of our little people!) There's a sweet gift shop and cafe of sorts. For tired little legs there's a bus that will take you up to the beginning of the flume gorge trail. Our kids quickly learned this and liked the adventure of the bus.

I think the Flume is one of our favorite places to date. We'll definitely take you this way if you come stay at the Sprague Bnb!



Garden Updates: Year TWO!

7.12.2019


When we first moved back to the north country, I was excited to return back to Zone 5. While the Midwest and the northeast are a decent ways a part, sharing the same zone has brought a familiarity and a boldness to my gardening endeavors. Last year we had about a 30% success rate growing all the things we set out to grow in Alabama (we learned a thing or two about hot weather loving plants!) This year we've taken what we learned and tried our hand at gardening in zone 5! Here are a few snippets of our garden updates:

To give a bit of a preface, Ben made four raised garden beds for me this spring. They're 4 X 8 and we filled them with plant based compost. We hoped to just use our acre of land, but since it was literally encompassed with knotweed, the soil is terribly acidic, so we'll be working on removing it and the like for years to come. (fun, we know.) The benefit to raised bed is that everything is growing incredibly well. We found a local farmer (and a local lumberjack) and actually had it all delivered with the exception of a few things needed from Home Depot.



The struggle we've faced is just how well things are growing! weeds included. I'm not quite sure if the compost truly sat long enough for the weed seeds  to die out (?) so when it came to things like the zinnias, bells of Ireland, and celosia I planted, I wasn't really able to distinguish what was weed and what was flower. So the cut garden I had hoped for isn't going to really be a reality, as I've either a)pulled out the seedlings while pulling out the weeds, or b) the garden I left alone to just see how it would fare has done what you would expect a bed filled with weeds to do. Grow more weeds. Plans for next year are to tarp the beds and kill of any remaining seeds (and put a bit more compost over the beds next year that we're making ourselves.)

In the first bed we have a herb garden, bok choi (which we've left too long and then in flowered. womp) Onions, bunching onions, two pumpkins the kids secretly snuck in, and carrots. We have a lot in that 8 foot bed, so we'll see how we can trellis some things and harvest others.

The second bed has some sweet potatoes, about 9 pepper plants, and 8 tomato plants. all are thriving.

The third bed has watermelon, some beans on a trellis, and two varieties of dinner plate dahlias.

and lastly the final bed has sunflowers and what was supposed to be all sorts of little rows of zinnias and bells of Ireland. A few amaranthus and a few straw flowers are thriving.


We planted other things here and there and they've brought smiles all around. If we thought we were inexperienced before, this year, with having a good growth year , we are learning just how much the flip side of it also offers a good dose of humility. (I now get the joke about locking your front door during zucchini season! its everywhere!) and am learning a thing or two about companion planting.

That being said, its been a real joy getting familiar with each leaf and each flower, seeing things grow and figuring out their harvest date. It's fun seeing the bees pollinate and the beetles all over (some are not so fun, but even still, it at least provides a homeschool opportunity!) To fail and to succeed, to troubleshoot and to leave alone. It's given quite a gift to me, going out in the cool of the day to check on everything. I'm thinking this garden thing might follow me well into the future.

In the front of our house I threw some lupine and poppies half hazardly with the kids. It isn't a very pretty garden bed (the lupines I hoped for never did flower-but it may be because we have neighborhood groundhog) and yet those poppies that did bloom are perhaps the thing giving me the most joy at the moment.



I greatly look forward to the day when all of this is second nature. Our kids are loving trying things from the garden and Eli is getting quite good at identifying different leafs and such.

Originally, I had decided that since this was our first year in the house, we wouldn't take on the task of the garden. But then I remembered the nature of our life, and how precious even a single season is. We don't know how long we'll get to be here, so use up those summers! I'm SO glad we did.

Keeping notes on what I'm doing wrong and how to better plan. Year by year I think we'll get the hang of it! Finding which seed companies I like best, and learning about soil types and harvest dates. It all is good fun.

This was the first year we grew everything from seed, with the exception of a few raspberries, blackberries (that didn't thrive in our knotweed area) and a peony plant. It's been really rewarding seeing it start from a little seedling in the dead of winter all the way to now.

What a hopeful way to begin each year-seed catalogues and planting seeds in dirt before the dirt outside is even workable. I'm excited to let each year be welcomed this way.

Year Two of the garden is going pretty well so far!

On appleseeds and other lovely hopeful things.

5.02.2019



"I want an apple seed."

He says to me, the boy who's been avoiding food all day, who doesn't like apples. I take it as my opportunity to perhaps entice him to eat one of the fruits he's banned.

"Well, the only way to get an apple seed is to eat an apple."

It works! Sort of. He takes one bite, and then remembers. He spits it out and gives up his effort.  Fortunately for him, his shadow -otherwise known as brother- comes along and decides he wants a snack.

I return to the kitchen cleaning and hope I wont be picking up apple bits for the rest of the day. Ten seconds later (about) the baby has half the apple down and has eaten a seed or two for sure (arsenic threats unknown.) He's on his way to consuming more. I cause him to pause and pull the seeds out before handing it back to him.

My middle child lays hold of one of those shiny little shapes, and darts out of the room. We're in my bedroom now and I am not entirely sure what he's up to. Ten seconds later (about) I hear a door slam and I hear him tromp up the stairs, satisfied grin on his face. "I planted an apple seed, right over there mama. "

He's proud. and he whispers under his breath "now I have an apple tree."

I was about to remind him of reality. The improbabilities. The likelihood of apples. But I didn't. His hopeful sowing was enough to remind me that, I don't really know do I? He did plant it in a bed, not in the grass. Perhaps there's more hope than I realize.

Perhaps, now he has an apple tree.


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We met the neighbors. And they're darling as any neighbors could be. Welcoming, kind. Offering wine. Plus with two kids right around my kids age. Complete with an  already pledged eternal friendship and schemes for a secret path through the woods. The past few days have been rather painful for my daughter, since the very day after she met her future eternal best friend, Eli got sick. Thus the lot of us were put under house arrest. Much moaning, many an agonizing glance out the window. Shakespearean pain, I tell you. 

In an effort to deflate the situation, to save us all from the melodrama, I'm again tempted. The probabilities. The realities of this young lady being older, of busy schedules, of not getting hopes up. If I kill the dream before it grows, I wont have to deal with the pain of watching her realize its doom (if it perhaps is doomed. However unlikely.)

Fortunately, I'm noticing that there are (atleast) two ways to kill a childhood, one is not having one at all, the other is introducing the 'shoe drop' phenomenon. Just wait for it. Disappointment will come.

I remember an older woman exclaiming praise that God doesn't show her all that's ahead of her in life. She commented that had she known God would have her walk through all the valleys, she'd despair. She was a hopeful woman, who was so brave in the face of grief the words falling from her mouth made little sense. She carried an optimism I was bewildered by (and a bit jealous of.) 

That optimism is often elusive for a brain such as mine, I've found. I can conjure it, but it is fought hard for. I often wish I could just.see.whats.coming. Just let me have it, Lord. Let me make a plan. I remember telling Ben that while living overseas, during the hardest season of our entire life in our marriage, my brain was quiet. I was taking the next step every morning, but I knew the proverbial 'shoe had fallen.' Our marriage was struggling, and I didn't really anticipate it getting much worse between us. There. Then. My brain was quiet and at work at repairing. 

While all this is true, I'm hopeful this doesn't pass on to my little ones. My daughter already has a keen sense of seeing the ends of her ways (mighty bits of wisdom for a little girl.) and she sadly anticipates the dreadful much like myself. 

We have two sayings, between her and I. One is stolen from wise old Hagrid, "What's coming will come, and we'll meet it when it does." We say it every time we're tempted to fret. It helps. and the second "Every day has disappointments love,  but it has even more good bits. We get to find the good bits." 

Getting to meet the neighbors? the potential of an epic friendship? That was a really, really good bit.

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I have often had moments when I get to view myself in the 'fight or flight' scenario. And, I'm quite surprised and proud of myself for the way I get to work when the hard bits happen. I'm in the fight category. Which has its pros and cons. 

Kid breaks their face, I jump up and move towards. Blood gushing everywhere, I'll put a stop to it.  Ben and I tease each other. While I'm the fretful one in calm, I'm also the first responder. If the zombie apocalypse were to happen (don't talk to me about zombies, I hate scary conversations.) I'd like to think I'd just let myself die, but we all know better. I'd be protecting all the babies.  Perhaps all the probabilities allow me to already see how to respond in those situations, so I don't have to formulate. Consider me for your team. I'm learning how to homestead.

I guess what I'm saying is, I'm coming to terms more and more with who this nearly thirty year old self is. In her best and in her heaviest. In the coming of terms, it's also allowed me to view the 'terms and conditions' of my life and to see the characters I get to share air with.

Of those, my children are profoundly shaping who I am as their own unique shapes form. I see in them a hopeful narrative that makes room for an even more hopeful narrative in me. Even if my tendency is worse-case-scenario. The apple seed that may be a tree, the neighbor who may be the bosom friend. The fort built for the play date. The making room for what we hope.

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There was a study done  in which students were able to interact with aged-virtual-realities of themselves. The study aimed to see if those who interacted with older versions of themselves would later make choices that were more long-term minded, particularly in financial realms. The study found a seriously positive correlation.  Those that could see themselves as older, made choices with their older self in mind. . 

I found out about this study on instagram and the writer prompted the readers to consider their own selves (I think I've written on this before), in an older form. I recommend the practice to anyone. 

There are skill sets I definitely hope to have acquired in my old age (being well-read, having a garden, for starters.) but what stuck with me more was the hope of how I'd feel interacting in the world at large. I have a version of myself that I can see, and I really like that lady. I was a bit surprised however, because she wasn't quite as in shape as I perhaps would like to convince myself she could be. Nor was she quite so accomplished as I spent the last two decades deciding she would be, but she was calm. Unafraid. Closer to Home.

Moving some place new always causes a bit of turbulence in my brain, and my husband-praise God for that man-isn't really alarmed by my anxieties or my tendencies to try to create structure in unknown spaces. I remember asking him once if he thought I'd always be this way-referring to some heavy few weeks of OCD tendencies and fretting-and he said as honest as one does, "it's possible." 

It was of great encouragement to me that he wasn't alarmed by the possibility.  Such a gift, to be so fully known and loved, as Pope Keller says. It was an even greater encouragement when that same week I read in Galatians about how Peter-the same follower who had the fear of man so thoroughly in him he denied his beloved savior, then saw him resurrected-is rebuked again by Paul due to that same fear of man. He was rebuked for changing his behavior (and in a way denying the fullness of the gospel again) by eating only with Jewish people instead of the gentiles. 

You might ask, how can this be of encouragement? If a man who walked with Jesus, who struggled with ugly bits of his humanity pre and post Jesus' Resurrection, is still struggling even after facing the Jesus crucified and resurrected, What hope is this for us?  Such a great deal of hope! It gives me a glimpse at who's qualified to be hope bringers. Jesus told him that his very church would be built on Peter! Furthermore, I need to remind myself that struggling in ways I have chronically does not cause God pause in his working to make me new. Peter was still beloved and called, even in his stumbling. So am I. All the more, it makes heaven and the Christ I hope in all the sweeter.  

I know all these little paragraphs seem to be bouncing around in fragmented ways, but perhaps a few of you see the connecting points. 

My aim is this, I'm discovering more and more just how much hope there really is laced in the cloudy overcast days of apple seed planting and aching glances out windows.

 There's hope for the likes of us somewhat anxious ones. There's hope for the apple seed sowers, and there's a undeniable dose of hope that God is working to make things new regardless if we see it.  Even in this season of new normal, budding friendships-truthfully still a lonely season, and building a new life, I'm  forever reminded that as David says "I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."

What a gift to get to be part of the sowing.