at christmas time i bought two hoops–one for Trevor (age 6) and one for Andy (age 32). i squirrelled Andy’s away in the back of the closet and only remembered it today. Andy modified the hoop, so that instead of hanging over a door, it has a suction cup. the perfect game for a snowy day.
finally, the wheel of the year has turned past the grand celebrations of Christmas. winter is really here, and we’re settling in to the cold. i started to think about the coming of Ash Wednesday and Lent and how we might celebrate as a family. over at my flickr site, i asked how others might be planning to observe. Grace commented that it’s hard to be somber with little ones around! that got me thinking that there have to be ways to enter in to this season even with littles under foot. here’s a list of ideas that might provide a spark of inspiration to light the way to spring.
- make doughnuts or some other deep-fried yumminess on Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday.
- learn a new song. a song that points to spring coming and new life sprouting. yesterday Mabel and i were singing For the Beauty of the Earth as we got dinner ready. maybe you could illustrate the song to help little ones learn the words.
- go for a walk every day. i once knew of a homeschooling family who put a pot of soup on to simmer for lunch and headed out for a walk each day. no matter the weather.
- make a nature almanac recording what you see on your walks. when did the moon come full? what day did the buds burst? what stars are out?
- learn a new prayer to say at meals. we’ve started singing our prayers. music is big around here these days. it lets Mabel really enter in even though she can barely talk.
- give up meat as a family. or (closer to my heart) sugar. give the money to an organization like Heifer.
- change your seasonal table or alter. add a bowl of water to be the waters of life. or a tray of sand to be the 40 years in the desert, our own long journey, our dustiness.
- sprout something. wheat berries sprout and then grow a neat green grass perfect for hiding eggs when the time comes. but beans and lentils work too.
- make bread. to go along with the soup. it’s very earthy. and the spaces created by waiting for the dough to rise are perfect for story telling.
- celebrate love on St Valentine’s Day. our hearts of stone have been changed into hearts of flesh! glory!
- wear purple, the traditional color of Lent, to keep you mindful.
- light candles at meals. turn off the electric light. enjoy the darkness. try for silence even for a few moments. the light is coming!
- and when all else fails and you’re at the end of a long day, play “Jesus in the Tomb.” the rules are simple: everyone must lay down very still and quiet. enjoy the respite!
last year when M was but four months old, it seemed odd that we were going to church to be reminded of our mortality. this girl was vital. our life together was just beginning. when we got to the priest, she took a smudge of ash from last year’s palm branches and whispered to Mabel,”Remember that you are made from the dust of the universe, and that one day you will return to the stars!”
and that’s what i want to hold in my intentions for this small girl.
the comments are on…i’d love to hear what you’ve got planned.
to celebrate MLK Day, we rented a car! makes perfect sense, right? we talked about driving north to see our friends in Washington. but driving with the prospect of winter weather sounded a bit much. so we stayed home. we rented a car and drove around our city and out to a few wild places.
on Friday night we drove over to NE to have dinner with Ben and Jess and Sophia. we shared a lovely meal at a Thai restaurant on Sandy. then drinks back home at their place. then over the bridge and back home to St Johns. being in the car let me notice all sorts of things i must have seen before but never quite registered. like the beautiful light posts lining our bridge. they can even be seen from our deck. or in the bathroom when you’re brushing your teeth.
Saturday morning we were up early and cold. we made a thermos full of coffee, boiled some eggs, bundled up and headed out to Sauvie Island. we drove the length of the island and saw sheep, cows, horses, cormorants, vultures, winter wrens, and geese. then we turned around and parked the car at the Wapato Greenway. we were headed toward a seasonal lake that is home to many birds who spend their winters in Portland. it was cold. freezing rain turned sleet turned snow. we followed a Stellers jay out to the water and back again. judging by how loud he was, i think the weather agreed with him!
on Sunday we went to church. then we watch the football game. our friends from Washington called…they were in town for the Old Time Music Festival…would we like to join them for the tail end of a concert? well, yes we would. we headed to the Mission Theater in NW and found the place packed with happy people, kids, mamas with babies in the sling dancing in the aisles. i saw two other little one ask to nurse. it was amazing to be listening to people sing and play the banjo and stand up bass, for there to be beer to drink if you wanted it, for kids to be so much a part of what was happening. i felt very blessed.
then we went to another friend’s house for burritos and more music. Nicki played her banjo and Kevin played his fiddle. and Mabel danced and played with the puppy named Zion. it was a comfortable, quiet evening in an old Portland house with dark wood floors. Troy came home with us and we made popcorn and talked about his trip to France and art and making a life and god and church and children.
in the morning we went out for breakfast with the big bunch of people and said our cold goodbyes. our family drove out to Kelley Point Park at the very edge of the peninsula. it’s the confluence of the Willamette and the Columbia. i love seeing the two waters the mix, where the darker blue of the Columbia laps into the Willamette. the wind blow the clouds away, and the mountain was visible. it was windy up there too–a cloud of snow hung above the summit.
this entry is already too long. and i don’t feel i’ve even begun to tell you what we experienced. how nice it was to get very cold and then rush back to the car to get very warm. how full and expansive our days felt. how refreshed we were after being together in this new place in a new way. it was every thing a vacation ought to be. and it happened over one long weekend, right in the place we call home.
it just amazes me that M gets to have such wonderful people in her life. because there was an empty chair next to Phan when my brother Steven walked into his math class, my daughter gets to learn how to make papaya salad from a wonderful cook. at the end of the video, you can see Phan’s nifty rice cooker that makes sticky rice. yum!