Monday, May 14, 2007

on nature, or maybe if I posted more frequently this would not be this long

Hello! I trust all you mothers and people related to mothers had a happy day yesterday. It was truly lovely here. J and Iris made my favorite Mexican chocolate coffee cake for breakfast, then we went with my mom to the zoo, where Iris wished a happy mothers' day to all the mama animals, including two pregnant elephants. That's 44 cumulative months of gestation, people. I hope those elephants get a big bouquet next year, or will it be two years from now?

Anyway, thanks for all your nice comments on my last post. I've taken another impromptu internet break since then, during which I've done lots of, well, living, I guess you'd call it, when you do stuff instead of write about it on the computer. It's been good. Maybe I should just make it official and come out and say I'm only going to post once a week, but then as soon as I set a rule, I'll want to break it, so never mind. Let's just say I'll be here now and again. How's that for setting expectations?

One of the things I've been doing is reading this book about one of my favorite children's authors and illustrators, Virginia Lee Burton. There is so much to admire in her life and her art. And is it any surprise that a preservationist's favorite book would be The Little House? I could look at the pictures in that book all day, with their gorgeously detailed, rhythmic depiction of the cycle of the seasons* and the passage of time and "progress."

Both of these books make me think a lot about reconciling my love of nature and of the city. We are pretty committed city folk here in the ao neko family for lots of reasons: the conservation of land, the community of people, the convenience of having most everything from dry cleaning to Thai food within easy walking or busing distance. We even walked to the hospital when Iris was about to born (hoping the exercise might kick-start those contractions since I was two weeks overdue and scheduled for a dreaded induction. But that’s another story). Iris is a seasoned public transit rider, attends a downtown preschool with all colors and creeds of children, and plays on a roofdeck. Once we were driving down a suburban commercial strip (without sidewalks, of course) and she asked, truly puzzled, "Why there are no people walking?" That's my girl!

But J and I do have a fantasy about a buying a property in the country where we can design and build a little dream house and have some of the experiences Virginia Lee Burton and her family did living year-round in the country. Raising animals. Growing food. Really living the cycle of the seasons. Really living in nature. Full-time. Sometimes I think it would be worth trading city life for that. But then I realize I would have to drive for every gallon of milk, bank transaction, and library book, and I just don't think I could live without my city sidewalks.

So we are working on our little postage-stamp-size parcel of nature, otherwise known as our backyard (which is in quite an uncultivated natural state right now - if we tame it, will it still be nature?) and I am on the lookout for a pretty little table to put in our front hall to become our nature table. We will put a plate or a tray on it, I told Iris, for keeping all the special things we find out in nature: eggshells, acorns... "and dead flowers," she suggested. Then, "Is nature what we're sitting out in right now?"

This morning she found a bird’s feather on the ground and asked me, “Mama, did you find a table yet?” I'd say the nature table is an idea whose time has come.

* Iris delivered a bravura soliloquy on this topic the other night at dinner. "First it's winter," she said, "then sprin', then summer, then fall, then winter again. I never figured that out before!"


Anonymous erin said...

oh, i love that iris figured out the seasons! those little minds work in the most wonderful ways.

5:34 PM  
Anonymous kirsten said...

that's a beautiful post. a nature table is something i've been wanting to start as well.

we struggle with living in the suburbs - but what would i do without my backyard and big garden! it frustrates me so that the bus system here is completely hard to use and dumb, and almost nothing is within walking distance except for a walmart grocery - which i try not to frequent...

we too, dream of a country piece of land.

5:51 PM  
Blogger carol said...

this past weekend, we visited a local farm. A family has decided to open their home and a market to the community and share their farm.

the greenhouse full of lettuce, beehives, barn full of a animals made it all very convincing this is the life I want.

the slow life is so tempting. I know it's hard work and that's part of the appeal for me...

I love reading about your home, thanks for sharing!

7:51 AM  
Anonymous Ellen said...

Happy belated Mother's Day! Could you please send me the recipe for the Mexican chocolate coffee cake? It sounds great. (I know you have my e-mail address.)

9:47 AM  
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10:55 PM  

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