Soaking up the last little drops of summer as the season quickly changes to my favorite season of all.
Soaking up the last little drops of summer as the season quickly changes to my favorite season of all.
This past week we spent driving down to Virginia for the Wild + Free conference and then back up again. We planned to stay with Danielle, who before our trip, I had only known through social media. We were both diarists in the third volume of the Sling Diaries, and had become fast friends since. She was one of my top favorites in our volume and I was so giddy to meet her and her little family after almost an entire year (year and a half?) of knowing them. I’m a huge fan of Dani and her husband Jimmy’s photography work and have always been attracted to their love for finding magic in the mundane. Our boys are all around the same age so naturally they had quite a bit in common and got along beautifully. Zak and I are totally smitten with Jimmy and Dani and we cannot wait to visit with them again. Our visit with them on the way down was short but very sweet. On the way back up we were able to stay with them for a bit longer and spent an entire day hiking the most beautiful trail, visiting a farm grocery and restaurant, and playing Settlers of Catan. Little Elliot seemed to really adore Zak and Zak felt the same about Elliot, it was pretty darling. Asher was very quick to hug us all when we asked him for it! Both boys were so ridiculously sweet and so adventurous, a little different than what I am used to with Odin! Asher was eager to explore at his own pace, usually much further ahead than any of us. He would stop and reflect every so often and it was the sweetest thing to watch. (Dani and Jimmy, we love all of you!!)
After our first visit with Dani and Jimmy, we went to visit my soul mate Angelica in Virginia. We had planned to visit with her for so much longer than we actually did, but unfortunately our time was cut short. We were only able to play for a day before we had to keep driving. I made little (2 years old today) Rosalita a flower crown, which she thoroughly enjoyed. She kept asking for it to be placed on her head after it fell off, and would smile every time it found it’s way back to her crown. I love that little darling and her mumma too.
Our third family friend visit was with dear Kirsten Rickert. I was so pleased to have spent so much time with her while at Wild + Free. Her attention to the environment is what originally attracted me and since then I’ve fallen head over heels for her and her lovely family! I’ve dreamed of meeting her girls and knew my gentle little Odin would fancy them as well. He did immediately as the girls took his hands and brought him outside to show him around. Little Elle even dressed him in a cardigan of her own accord, because it was a bit chilly out. Maya is so brilliant and was beaming with pride while showing us her tree house and singing songs to Zak. Kirsten was very generous to offer us a picnic lunch before we had to dash off (we very nearly missed our boat because we stayed longer than we should have). I sent the girls two of my dolls earlier last month and it was so nice to see them so loved. They reminded me very much of myself when I was around 8 years old. I loved many of the same things and my imagination worked in very much the same way, so seeing them brought out my inner child in a way that hadn’t been done in a very long time.
Once again, I am here writing about how grateful I am for social media and how it has brought me friends I would have never made otherwise. Isn’t it a little funny? I suppose if you choose not to be lost in social media, choose not to live your life only through words and images on a screen, it can become a tool to make the search for kindred souls in the world that much easier. I think this year for Thanksgiving, the thing I may say I’m grateful for is Instagram (ha!).
I’ve said this before, and I’ll probably say it a million more times on this blog- I love Fall. I can start to taste Autumn in the morning, evening, and nighttime air and nothing makes me happier. We’re spending out evenings on the beach with friends, soaking up the last of Summer while snacking on fresh forages. The Beach Plums are starting to ripen and we made our first stop out in Millbrook to forage from one of the bushes Zak had seen while driving from property to property at work. Last year, we drank the tastiest Beach Plum wine that Zak had made! It was so sweet and the most delicious lunch wine, I’ve really had nothing better. This year we’ll be making jam, but I’m hoping to forage enough to make some wine too (I’m the one who is really rooting for this. haha!).
Odin went back and forth from helping pick to looking for bunnies. He would tell me to “shh” and then we would tip-toe along the path nearby and look closely for any movement. He also climbed the split-rail fence by himself and was completely smitten with his newfound independence.
I think our transition to Fall will be filled with the regular routine of dinner, forage, sleep. I can think of no better way to spend my evenings than in the cool air, exploring new nooks, and searching for bunnies.
There are a few new ladies in town!
Toddlerhood is full of learning for both myself and for Odin. Out of all the learning we’ve been doing, patience is probably the one thing that’s been hardest for me. Patience must be hard for him too but I do think the being patient while he learns it can be so very difficult. Patience all around!! Working in the garden has been one of our most regular exercises in this. Harvesting is always the best part and sometimes little fingers can’t resist an early harvest! I feel myself repeating things about a million times (just a small estimation).
“No, Odin, don’t pick the green ones! We have to wait until they’re nice and red!”
“Oh! Odin! That’s not a weed! It was a carrot!!”
“Honey, that’s a garden bed! You can’t walk through it!”
“You can’t throw that at the bees!!! They aren’t going to throw it back!”
Life on Nantucket is relatively slow. We garden leisurely when we aren’t working and then we spend the rest of our time playing and exploring. Having a newly independent toddler around makes those things a little less relaxing, a lot less relaxing if I let it get to me. Teaching a child anything requires patience and persistence in my opinion and the garden seems to be the perfect location for it. We remind him that we treat the plants with gentleness and love. We have new chickens and this is especially trying for excited toddler fingers. Little chicks are wild and adorably small and Odin gets so excited when he visits them. Constant reminders of how we act towards other living creatures can be pretty exhausting but also very rewarding. As Odin grows older and more independent, this will become more challenging but I also think we will see the reflection of our teachings in his actions. He’s already learned about when to pick raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and tomatoes which is so much better than last year! Last year he ate so many unripe berries and made so many sour faces, but he’s learned since then.
Observation is another form of patience I try and teach Odin. Sitting still and silent for a little while is so difficult for his antsy toes but when he is having a rough time, I’ve noticed that this is the best way to calm him. We might sit and watch the shadows of the leaves on the ground as the wind blows or watch our cat as she sits in the high grass waiting for a bunny to poke it’s head through the garden fence. We watch the bees pollinate the flowers and count the eggs as we take them from the coop. We lay in the grass and count the clouds or hide from one another behind the trees.
He is growing surprisingly patient because of these garden moments and I am grateful. I thought about writing this post because one of the two very sad peach trees that Zak saved from a local farm grew a peach this year, and Odin wanted that peach more than he’s wanted anything in his entire life I’m sure. After a few failed distraction attempts, we brought out the hose for him to water the garden and he finally stopped pursuing the only peach. It was a bit of panic for a moment, but finding the right distraction eased us all. With toddlerhood, I feel like that’s the way most of the time, seeking out the right distraction. Just saying no is asking for problems!
He has worker’s hands from his long days landscaping. This is the height of the season and the work is strenuous. He doesn’t love it. I feel guilty that I get to stay home and make money doing what I want to do or spend my days playing with Odin. I wish Z had more time to stay home and play with us too, or to work on the things he truly loves. Our bees are so productive this year, I think we’ll have quite a bit of honey to sell at the end of the summer (anyone interested in some Nantucket honey?). I’ve been struggling to maintain motivation. It’s harder some days than others, but having Zak’s sister’s help with Odin a few days a week has worked wonders. I feel tired and a little bit trapped sometimes, but I think that this is a common feeling for stay at home mums- I need to get out more. One day, in the next few years, Zak and I will finally have our own little plot of Earth. Zak will be able to stay home and he and Odin can sow, grow, and harvest while I work on my illustration work in the studio (it will have windows on every inch of wall and be the brightest room in the house). We’ll talk to our chickens and cows while we hang our clothes to dry. We’ll adopt a baby pig or two and keep some bunnies, since they seem to be Odin’s favorite. Zak will teach Odin all about the honeybees (like we already are) and we’ll continue to raise him to know their importance. At night we’ll play music around the fire while drinking mulled wine. We’ll dance and play throughout our daily tasks, but life will be slow. I prefer it that way. Every so often, we’ll travel to explore new places- hopefully with many friends.
I’m a dreamer. It keeps me going. It breaks up the monotony of the work day and the ordinary. Zak must feel it more than I do and because of it, his dreams are even bigger. I have to keep visualizing this future to be sure we continue to work towards it. One day we will have the money we need to start this life. I sincerely hope that our life stays secure as it has been this past year and a half. We can’t handle surprises right now, we need to save every extra penny so that we don’t have to count our pennies as much.
For now, we’ll concentrate on beach days and foraging, harvesting and creating. I’ll move financial thoughts to the back burner for as long as I can- but I can always feel those thoughts (they’ll never leave, will they?). I will dream harder every day for our future. I don’t want Zak to have to do something he’s not passionate about, just to keep up with bills and save a tiny bit. It will happen, right?
Our island is small, and when the carnival comes to town it definitely feels like an amusement park. Last year, Odin was much smaller and spent most of the time we were there in the sling. This year though, Odin was more than eager to ride the rides. The first one he went on was the airplane, I was (probably overly) concerned that he would panic as the plane started to move and the man working the ride would have to stop it midway. I imagined him trying to climb out of the plane as I rushed over to stop him (mom-brain!). As the ride started to move he seemed a little unsure of what to feel, but as the plane moved up into the sky and he looked back at me, he started to giggle and squeal. He smiled the entire ride and when it was time to get down, he told the man who tried to unbuckle him, “NO!” and buckled himself back in. Toddlers, psh, they don’t hold back do they?
Zak and I rode the ferris wheel while Marin took Odin into the fun house. We made kissey face at the very tip top while they loaded up the very bottom seat. The sun had just sunken into the horizon and it was a pretty dreamy moment. I think Zak timed it that way on purpose. He can be so mushy sometimes. (I know you’re reading this and shaking your head, Zak! haha!) We also rode some of the wild ones. The kind where you drop face down in a metal contraption that doesn’t feel quite safe. The kind where the louder you scream, the more fun you have. Poor Marin had to hear me scream wildly for the entire ride, but it was pretty exhilarating after living such a slow lifestyle on this slow moving island.
Last year we arrived when it was already dark. I’d never been to the carnival to watch the sunset and it made me fall a little bit more in love with it, it definitely didn’t help that last night’s sunset was beyond magnificent. It was all pretty magical.
Pricey, bad-for-you foods, and lines of sugar-high kids. Once a year, it’s definitely worth it.
We left the island the night of the 3rd. It was very foggy and the ferry was rocky, but that’s when the ocean is my favorite. We sat up top and Zak napped, preparing for the drive, while Odin and I ran amuck playing peek-a-boo and pushing toy trains back and forth. Every so often we’d see a buoy (Odin calls them “boo-tee”), and we’d run over and watch as it passed learning the colors of each- blue, green, red, green, green, red. I’d never seen Odin so content on the ferry before, I guess we had timed it just right. We arrived in Hyannis and started out towards Portland, Maine after a quick dinner. Odin quickly fell asleep for the three hour drive and when we arrived to Zak’s cousin Allan’s house, he was ready to party. All the housemates were up and a few friends were over- Odin loved it and stayed up until almost 2 am dancing and playing with his new pals.
The next morning, everyone made waffles (we need a waffle-maker), cinnamon apple and cherry were our favorites. We set out towards Camden, where I was to photograph my second wedding ever. Camden is such a quaint little town, much like Nantucket. I love finding places like this off island, because the “real world” is still close by should you need a break from the tourists. On island- there’s no escape really. Having worked retail here, I’m allowed to say that! We were able to reserve a spot on the water and the property the Inn was on was magical. There were fields of wildflowers and at night when the fields had gone dark, seas of fireflies would sparkle in those fields much like the moon on the ocean beyond the firefly sea.
We arrived with just enough time to settle in and jump in the tub, before excitedly running off to go meet an Instagram friend, Julie. Her blog is fantastic and I’ve been a fan for a little over a year now. I was super excited about this meeting as Julie lives on the loveliest little homestead on a nice plot of land, which is mine and Zak’s dream. Her home was nothing short of dreamy, and she and her family were the absolute sweetest. Odin is still asking to see her little boy and it’s been four days since our dinner! They made us the yummiest food and I was truly grateful to have been a part of such a lovely 4th of July. When we arrived back to the Inn, we immediately started looking at land in the area. I’d love to have a friend when we move to wherever we find home, so in my daydreamer’s mind- that’s where we’re going. Hope you’re okay with that Julie! 😉
Odin loved watching the clouds and playing with the 4 week old kittens but I’m pretty sure his favorites were the bunnies. That boy loves bunnies and carries his stuffed bun everywhere. When Craig brought in the sweetest little grey ones, I knew Odin would fall in love. I didn’t realize Zak would fall so much in love too, so now we’re on the hunt for a bunny. ha!
The wedding was so much fun, I can’t wait to post the photos after editing them. I think I may have taken too many so editing and narrowing down has been a little difficult but I am working at it (in between logo work and portraits and starting some dolls). Odin stayed at the Inn with Z while I went to photograph the groomsmen and bridesmaids and the service before coming back to the Inn to bring them to the reception with me. Zak was thrilled to have a Maine lobster dinner and Odin fell in love with the bride instantly. He kept taking her by the hand and trying to steal her away from her friends and family. Whenever she was at her table with her new husband, Odin would poke his head over the table to say hello and giggle at her. My favorite moment may have been when the new husband and wife had their first married dance- they were so sweet and everyone was ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the adorableness. I was taking photos and out of the corner of my lens Odin runs onto the dance floor, runs up to the couple, leans in and just says, “Hi!” Everyone laughed and Zak ran in and swooped him into his arms to take him off the dance floor. I’m sorry Ryan! (haha)
Leaving Maine was the hardest. Zak and I were so sad to go. Between Camden town and Julie’s homestead, we were completely smitten. We will have to make a trip back there very soon, hopefully to check out some available land! We found a little waterfall in Camden after breakfast and Odin was in awe, sitting to watch it and shout “boo-full!” and “pit-tee!!” I ran into some friends from my college in Florida (small world!) and we headed back out on the road. Odin napped most of the drive, but we did find ourselves stuck in traffic for awhile. Zak sang terrible songs and I ribbon danced in the front seat. Our traffic dance worked every time, because as soon as we finished the cars would start to move again.
This trip was so lovely. A beautiful vacation and a reminder to our goals. I want to work harder and live happier. I want to save as much as I can so that we can relax in our forever home. I want to build the house of our dreams and I want to dance in fields of Earth that are ours. I want to sell art and honey at markets and in local shops. I want to take beautiful photos for lovely people and I want it to make them smile. I want to travel more often and dance with a ribbon in the car wildly, no matter how many people are watching. This trip was a huge reminder for me- it grounded me and made me remember who I am and who I want to be, where I want to go and who I want to go there with. This trip made me fall in love with Zak a little bit more (I seem to do that daily), especially when I watched him play ukulele on the ferry under the moon as the sun set. Life is pretty good and I can only imagine it will get better.
It’s officially Summer now that we’ve gone in for our first swim. We spent the afternoon at the beach yesterday and after the initial burst of cold water, we couldn’t seem to make our way back to shore. Odin was especially keen on staying in the water for out entire beach duration. He would jump back and forth from my arms to Zak’s and then to his Aunt Grace’s and then to one of our friends. He loved kicking his feet and splashing nearby swimmers. His absolute favorite was when mama or papa tossed him into the air and let him dip back into the water on his way down. I can’t wait to spend our afternoons at the beach, a backpack loaded up with snacks and drinks, our skin and hair coated in salt for the next few months. Watching the sunsets with our toes in the sand and swimming with the phosphorescents when we can escape for a night time swim. I’m so thankful for the Winter because it makes Summers that much sweeter, it’s summer year-round where I’m from and I couldn’t truly appreciate it until witnessing my first winter.
When we finally made our way home we stopped to play in a small patch of daisies, picking a few to bring with us. Daisies are my most favorite. They remind me of my first summer on Nantucket and are just the happiest flowers. They’re one of the easiest flowers to learn to make crowns with and I am always so grateful when I sit in a patch of them. Odin seems to share that love!
We’ve just teamed up with Freshly Picked Moccasins just in time for summer. Moccs are pretty great year round but because these are short and sit around the ankle, they’re especially awesome for summer. We sized up a bit so that they’ll fit into the Fall and they still stay on well. Odin loves them because he can put them on himself and take them off just as easily (which isn’t always at the best time, but it’s still adorable to hear him say “did it!!!!” in a high pitched squeal). They seem very well crafted and they’re made in America, which is something that is important when you’re not buying directly from the creator. I just know these will hold up through the Summer and I’m sure even much longer. You will definitely see and hear more about these throughout the year. Thanks FP, we love them!
As Odin grows into toddlerhood, he is becoming much notably more expressive. It’ really quite funny the photos I end up capturing on accident! He’s also forming such a personality and it’s so much fun to watch. He can be very silly and very entertaining but also very difficult, as most toddlers are. He has been begging us for a baby in the recent weeks, especially since he’s fallen so in love with little Tsela. He points to my stomach and eagerly asks, “Baby??” Every time I have to say. “No love, no baby in there yet!” and each time he cries. I’m such a terrible mumma! 😉 I’m quite jealous of this boy’s childhood. Our morning chores are to tend to the chickens and play outside until lunch time. Afternoons are spent in the garden followed by a walk to the beach to watch the sunset. Nothing beats that, am I right?
I’ve been doing some work for Slugs & Snails and I can’t wait to show you all. It will be my first video paired with some lovely photos, I’m having so much fun working on it. I’m powering through babywearing portraits, like always. I want to be able to offer more custom portrait slots this summer but may be focusing more of my time on dolls and other illustration work. I have a few months this summer where Zak’s little sister will be helping out with Odin. I’m so excited to get to work and hope I can manage to really get ahead.
I feel I’ve been neglecting the blog a bit lately, but there are some very exciting things in the works!