The boys have been really big on dressing up lately. I find that there is an ebb and flow to their play, where they are constantly dressing and re-dressing the entire day long for weeks, and then they switch to drawing or building with blocks as the main focus. It's wonderful to watch them play, especially when they are working together and not squabbling as they were doing near the end of that very long winter. Ollie has been quite dedicated to being 'the very bravest knight' and tells everyone he meets about his very important role. He slays an endless stream of dragons and wears his basket helmet with immense pride as he runs around the house screaming and being knocked down by invisible dragons (:
We have been reading Snow White and Rose Red; In the story there is a prince cloaked in a resplendent golden suit, so of course Jude has been dressing in his own golden armour and walking proudly around the farmyard. It is absolutely delightful, and while I sometimes play with them, mostly I leave them be in their sacred play world. There is no shortage of information out there concerning the importance of imaginary and creative play, and I love to watch their naturalness develop and flourish in front of my eyes. No back-to-back structured activities for my wild free-range boys!
We make costumes and masks, spend lots of time outside just being, draw and paint and play.
I remember the days when Isabella was small and immersed herself in her own amazing imaginary world; Her drawings literally blew my mind; She would draw Buddhists flying over clouds and Egyptians in the desert performing odd ceremonies, circus performers, intricate illustrations of animals and children, princesses and tribal people in engaging scenes. She would first draw the picture in pen or ink and then fill in the entire scene with coloured pencils. It would take her hours and she was so peaceful. She is 13 now and very much interested in fashion and her circle of friends; she has let go of that special small-child world of pure creativity. I cherish passionately the memories I have of her early days, and having the wisdom of knowing how quickly children grow and transform, I try to let the boys be little and wild and real without too much headiness or worrying that they might be missing or needing something that I cannot provide. I did that too much when my Bella was little. I was young and she was my first child; I loved her so, I wanted everything to be perfect, I wanted her to he happy and safe and full of only good things. I was in a state of perpetual self-doubting and guilt that I wasn't providing enough. I was silly. Children are wonderful and resilient and all that they are, all by themselves, right from the beginning (:
Two days ago I strolled out to the barn to give the lambs their bottles but when I looked into their pen, I saw that Shady Grove lay lifeless on the ground.
You cannot imagine my horror, and then unrelenting grief and sadness.
Jason buried her across the road, on the pretty hillside full of waving grass and wildflowers.
I cried the entire day, I loved her so much, and when I awoke the next day I had more tears. My sadness was so, so great.
If you have had animals of any kind, then you know each one has a distinct personality. Sheep are no exception. Shady Grove was my little love; my sweet gentle girl, always cuddling up to me when I sat in the pasture and resting her head on my leg. She often tried to climb into my lap for hugs even when she was obviously way too big. She smiled a big goofy grin when I scratched under her chin. Oh, my heart is so broken.
We don't know why she died. The previous day she was frolicking in the grass with Noble and Turnip; nothing would have suggested anything was wrong. Such is the way of life I suppose. Things are often sudden and unexpected. I know that, but it doesn't make it any easier to accept.
Shady Grove when she was just one week old. Such a sweet and gentle soul.
Sometimes, when I venture outside with the kids I simply cannot believe how beautiful it is; the wild leafy greenness, the abundance of wildflowers and the dragonflies flying in droves around us, eating any mosquitos that dare to get near us..It is so wondrous, and alive, and the very opposite of a long, quiet, cold winter. The tree frogs and crickets are singing their evening chorus nightly now and this has honestly got to be my favourite sound, following only the lonesome call of the loons on the lake.
Ollie has 'discovered' painting in a larger way this past week. He has been painting since he was quite small of course, but he has suddenly claimed an intense passion to paint on a whim and will become quite upset if he cannot do so, so I have a permanent painting 'station' set up for him, with quick and easy access to a palette, paint and brush for me for when I have to produce such things in a hurry! Mostly, he paints what he says to be dragons fighting knights, but sometimes he claims he is writing letters, too (:
The lambs continue to grow and strengthen, even Noble who we thought might not survive when we first got him. Now, he runs and bounces in the pasture and it is just the sweetest thing (: He run with the kids and usually trips one of them by crashing into them on account of his blindness, but they are usually laughing when they land in the long grass (-;
Our Russian Orloff hen was showing herself to be broody so we moved her, still sitting in the nesting box, out of the barn and into a rabbit hutch on our front porch. She had two eggs under her as I recall, so we added four more, and there she sat for 21 days. As I was finishing my nightly barn chores last Sunday evening I heard a peep from under her! I alerted Jason as to the tiny miracle on the porch, and when we woke the next morning, all six eggs had hatched! One chick didn't make it, but the remaining five are very healthy and doing well. If you have ever seen chicks then you know, of course, that they are very cute. But nothing can prepare you for the beauty of watching a mother hen with her chicks. They peek out from under her wing, they sit on her back, and you can see 10 tiny feet under her belly when she stands. It's a beautiful thing, motherhood.
We play inside, we play outside, I am perfecting gluten-free muffins, we walk in the pasture with the lambs and we enjoy the wondrous smell of peonies. Jason has been toiling and tending, planting and weeding our seven gardens and after the hardy bit of rain the past three days, the seedlings and plants have really taken off. We have already eaten asparagus and salad made with our delicious lettuce, and the rhubarb is just about ready for harvesting (:
I have to say though, that my very happiest day this month was when a new friend of mine gifted me with a gorgeous antique spinning wheel and carders. My heart is so, so happy! Now I can work with Pippin and Teapot's fleeces! This is all new to me, and I am feeling slightly daunted by what seems like a great deal of information, skills and terminology that I need to accrue, but I am excited and eager to begin learning (: Yay!