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the garden in early April

the garden at the beginning of the season, with most beds empty

starting the season

It's always hard to remember how far along we were in garden prep in any other year, but I feel like we're doing pretty well this year compared to our past attempts... even if the garden itself doesn't really show it. In the photo above you can see the garlic is coming up well, and way in the background the rhubarb. Spring onions are also doing well, but the chives, usually an early spring stronghold, seem not to have survived. Inside there's lots going on: tomatoes and peppers are ready to be transplanted into individual pots, and the first kales are ready to go into the ground when I get a bed ready. And the seed starting is continuing with herbs and flowers. And (outside again, thankfully) there's lots of good compost to prep the beds as soon as things dry out a bit. Looking good so far!

moments from the week

Harvey, shoeless, standing by a flooded marsh


Moments from the past week.

a dusting of snow on the garlic plants

snow on the garlic

eggs in a nesting box

hens are fully back to work

ice formations around a little waterfall

water and ice

the kids toasting marshmallows and laughing around a friend's fire table

big fire, big fun

Elijah sipping a drink on the roof of the playhouse wearing sunglasses

keepin cool


adventures far and near

Between covid exposure and forecast rain, the prospective turnout for Park Day on Wednesday was looking pretty low. So we were happy enough when the few folks ready to get together suggested we go for a hike instead. Only they live far away, so we had to go hiking all the way out in Groton. Which isn't something we would ever have done otherwise! And Zion might have still preferred we hadn't, he felt that sick in the car. But then we would have missed out on an entirely new woods filled with water!

Elijah taking a big step onto a rock in a pond

there's a rock there somewhere

The main draw of this particular piece of woods was "Forest Bells", an art installation of six giant chimes up on top of a little hill. They were super fun to play with, and we enjoyed trying to create compositions for them (and trying to swing on them, which I discouraged). But the natural features around them—rocks and slopes and streams—were just as interesting. There was some good climbing and lots of water.

the boys by a woodsy stream

I promise you, they were having fun

It wasn't what you'd call warm out, but in spring any chance for a wade is always interesting.

Zion wading along a flooded dirt road

water everywhere

Then today we took a quick trip around the corner to Page Woods, less than two miles away. We've been there literally hundreds of times before, but it was still delightful to walk and run on those familiar paths—and especially because of the brook.

Elijah stepping over a little stream

little and close to home


moments from the week

Harvey's feet in a stream

spring stream

Moments from the past week.

Zion seeming to stand on the surface of a pond

always walk on water when you can

Elijah pretending to be a beaver gnawing a tree

beaver boy

Elijah taking pictures at the Pole Capping parade

historical photographer

Harvey and Elijah in 4H shirts outside a supermarket

begging for food again


hail yes

Saturday had all the weather. There was sun, there was rain—a little bit during the pole capping parade—and there were even thunderstorms. As we were coming home from helping with a food drive outside Donelan's Supermarket and enjoying the sparkling sunshine after the latest downpour I noticed some white stuff in the yard of a house down the street from us. "Look, it snowed!" I told the boys—as a joke, because at over 50°F I was sure it was some construction debris or something. But then the next lawn was white too, and the one across the street...

"It's hail!" we all realized at once.

lots of hail on our back deck

hail aftermath

Yes indeed, while it had been raining on us in Acton we'd missed a hailstorm at home, a hailstorm whose furthest edge was just a couple hundred yards beyond our house. There was plenty of hail for us to admire, but Zion at least was a little upset to have missed it. Leah was home when it all fell but she missed it too: she was working, and didn't know it had done anything more than rain hard until we told her..

It doesn't hail often around here, and certainly not that big and that much. A day to remember!

hail on the garlic row

all the plants survived


pole capping returns

The Pole Capping Parade is a Bedford tradition, but we haven't been able to do one since 2019. Well, case numbers may be rising again but never mind, Patriots Day observations are back on! And the threat of rain didn't deter a few loyal and hardy Bedfordites from turning out this past Saturday to take in the excitement.

Zion, Elijah, and friends watching the pole capping among costumed reenactors

big kids paying attention

We met friends at the green and had a joyful time running around and grading the costumes of the various units (the Piscataqua Rangers looked very fine in their new teal uniforms). Then we covered our ears for the shooting along the parade route (but not for the excellent fifing). New this year, we watched the whole of the Pole Capping presentation—despite the steady rain that started midway through the parade. These kids are big now, and don't have any trouble sitting through speeches! In fact, in our post-event roundup they all thought that Select Board member Emily Mitchell's was particularly good (I also enjoyed the poem by town historian Sharon McDonald—too few events feature original poetry these days). The sun was shining again by the time things wrapped up.

a man waving to the crowd from on top of the libery pole

he didn't have to climb in the rain

Afterwards we went to the playground for a while, and then were disappointed that the traditional library book sale has not returned. We were so sure it would happen that we brought our money into the library and everything! It turns out that it's still a couple week away. So there's that to look forward too, and in the meantime a lot more Patriots Day fun to come next weekend!

drums and feet of the William Diamond Fife and Drums



stress ball stress

For some reason the boys were super excited last week to bring a bunch of quarters to Market Basket and buy things from the gumball- and plastic-thing-dispensers by the exits. Maybe just because they hadn't been there in a while? Anyways, besides several dollars worth of plastic gems they brought home a few "stress balls"—that is, golf-ball sized sacks of weird goo studded with tiny balls of a different weird goo. While I don't know how they worked for relieving my children's stress, I can say that stepping on one in the dark early this morning was not at all stress-reducing. Although I suppose I was relieved when I realized what it was: probably the least-concerning squishy slime I could have stepped in. Thanks, Market Basket!

park day boat day

Less than a month ago, there was still ice on Freeman Pond. Not enough to skate on, sure, but it was still there (we skated for the last time seven or eight weeks ago, I think). Now that it's gone, of course, it means it's time to go in the water! That actually started back in March, but yesterday it was finally warm and fine enough that I felt comfortable bringing the boat.

Zion, Elijah, and a friend on the canoe in Freeman Pond

on the water again

Or boats, actually—because when I was cleaning under our front porch a week and half ago I discovered that we had a windsurfer down there. I guess it's been there for a while, and I can't imagine why we haven't tried it out before now! We couldn't manage the sailing part yesterday—too many missing pieces plus my complete lack of knowledge about the process—but it was still great as a paddleboard!

Zion raising his arms triumphantly standing on the windsurfer board in the pond

he's always loved standing up in boats

The water still isn't what you'd call warm, but it was enough above freezing that even if there was no actual swimming nobody minded falling in much, even on purpose. We had also brought the muskets to play with, and there was the whole playground there, but none of that mattered... it was the water the whole time!

Zion in the bow of the canoe heading towards the Park Day beach

sun on the beach


full weekend

We've got a lot going on this coming weekend. Tomorrow morning we have the 4H fairground cleanup, and as soon as that's done we want to head to the Tower Park reenactment in Lexington. From there we're going directly to a Passover celebration at Leah's parents house. Then Sunday morning is Easter, and I need to be at church to start setting up by 8:30—but before then I need to finish making a leaflet and cutting out 60+ doves and eggs for the kids to color on (Leah is doing noble work on the doves already: they are not easy). As soon as we get home from church we're hosting an Easter party. Then sleeping a bit, I would expect! Monday is Patriots Day and we're planning to bike to the parade, but that's not until the afternoon, so I expect that the day will feel positively relaxing!

moments from the week

Zion and Elijah aiming muskets at a group of Redcoats fighting a battle

helping the Minutemen

Moments from the past week.

the boys walking up a hill in an open woods

spring walk

Harvey and a friend carrying the windsurfer board down to the beach

getting ready to launch

Elijah playing in a stream, lots of mud on his legs

fully involved in the stream

kids sitting around a tarp watching blue foam come out of a bottle

elephant toothpaste?!

the boys in and around a big leafpile at the 4H fairground

some leaves on that fairground


lots of Easter

I didn't take that many pictures of Easter yesterday. Like I anticipated, it was a crazy morning and a full day overall. But full of joyful celebration too!

kids sitting on the lawn trading easter egg treats

the day's treasures

We started off bright and early by heading into church to set up to welcome kids and families with kids to the service. It's been a long time since we did a big service in person, and it showed—but never mind, everybody had so much fun that they didn't mind the occasional issue. There were some new families, and some folks I hadn't seen for a while. And lots of them were dressed up for the occasion... including Elijah!

Elijah in church holding his big Easter bunny

his bunny matches, but it also covers up his tie

There was also an egg hunt after church, but I was too busy running it to take any pictures or even pay attention to the kids finding the eggs. But that was alright because after church we went home to a big party with our own egg hunt. Also a fire, a whole bunch of friends, and plenty of food for all of them.

lots of food, mostly desserts, on our kitchen table

how many calories in total?

Maybe the balance was a little heavy towards the sweet treats side, but that's ok for a holiday. Everybody seemed pretty happy to be hanging out together, and when a few snowflakes started to fall the kids were especially happy to be able to play inside. There was plenty of outside time too, and at least the cold weather the last few days meant that all the flowers were still hanging on to make a fine show for the holiday. Happy Easter!

Zion picking up an easter egg in front of flowering bushes

plenty of eggs for all


the garden mid-April

a view of the garden

a little different

Not a lot of change compared to last time. The garlics are bigger, and there are some kale plants in. There are peas sowed, but it's been so chilly since they went in I'm sure they're not doing anything at all. We've eaten the first couple asparagus spears, but the rhubarb didn't go fast enough to produce a pie for Easter. Though it won't be long now!

The seedlings we started way back at the beginning of March are doing great, and could go in if we could be confident of no more frosts. Which of course we can't! So they're just hanging out, getting some outside time when they can and becoming a little leggy. In the meantime I'm late starting the next round of seeds. But we'll get ther e!

big seedlings on a table in the backyard

ready and waiting


Patriots Day

It's been a while since we got to celebrate Patriots Day properly. And I hadn't realized until I looked back at the records that in 2018 the parade was cancelled due to rain. So before this past weekend we'd only had one parade in the past four years! Thankfully everyone's given up on caring about Covid and the sun was shining merrily on Monday for us to finally get to enjoy another iteration of this timeless tradition. And enjoy it we did!

kids watching the parade approaching

just like old times (with the addition of a Ukranian flag)

Our Patriots Day fun actually started the weekend before, with Pole Capping. Then on Saturday we took in the reenactment at Tower Park, also something we've missed for two years. In all the excitement I forgot my camera in the car, and even though I said before that all the pictures of the event always turn out the same I still missed having it. The phone at least shows that we were there.

Elijah watching redcoats at Tower Park

the regulars are coming!

The parade is also something that always looks the same, though there were a couple little differences this time. We had even more friends to sit with—many of whom also biked from our house with us, which was a fun adventure on its own. And it was the longest parade ever. I guess everyone else was excited to be part of it too! All of it was delightful; we particularly enjoyed, variously, the blues band, brass bands, fife and drum corps, a pennyfarthing bicycle, a tiny horse and some big horses, Shriner mini-big-rigs and drift tricycles, kung fu artists with swords, and a real time-machine Delorean. And probably some other things I forgot. We also enjoyed fried dough, Italian ice, and candy. It was pretty cold, but at least it was sunny. Fun all around.

the kids sitting on a curb with friends waiting for the parade

they remember how to do it


first asparagus

I had the first cooked asparagus of the year with my lunch today. There was just enough for one person, which was fine, because the boys were away at their grandparents' and Leah was on a training meeting for her new job. Before I dug in I thought about taking a picture to commemorate the event—but then I decided that would be silly. I probably write about eating the first asparagus every year, I figured, and one picture of a bunch of asparagus doesn't look any different than another. So I just enjoyed without photographing. Well, it turns out that I don't comment on asparagus nearly as much as I thought I had. Barely at all since this paean back in 2015. So a totally missed opportunity! Oh well, even without a picture I think it's worth mentioning that, today, this 21st of April, the garden is up and running and producing food.


Today we spent just about 11 straight hours with people from a little after nine in the morning until a little after eight at night. Alright, so there almost an hour in the middle there to make and eat dinner without anyone else around, but still, it was a busy day. We started with a "school day" with our homeschool friends all morning and into the afternoon (more gardening and playing that what you might call school, but you know, it all counts). Then we left at the same time they did to spend some time with our public-school-attending friends, because we couldn't let the vacation week go by without a weekday playdate. In the evening we entertained half of our church community group by the fire. It was all delightful and exhausting. And just think: I used to be an introvert! Well actually I guess I still am, because now I need some rest...

moments from the week

Zion, Elijah, and a friend canoing in blue water


A few moments from the past week.

Harvey getting a high-five from a walking tomato at the parade

tomato parade

Zion and Elijah toasting marshmallows over our fire


Zion and Elijah with cotton candy stuffed in their mouths

how you eat cotton candy


good morning to you too, hens

I like lots of things about this time of year—it might be my favorite, even. I love the spring flowers and the fuzzy green on the trees, and it's great working in the garden when it's all unlimited promise. And I'm enjoying the late light that's letting us read stories in the evening without turning on any lights. But on the other end, I could really to without the chickens' early wake-ups these days. If they could be relaxed about their morning it would be fine; I don't usually pay much attention to them in any case, so if they were just casually scratching around their run enjoying the first rosy blush of dawn in the sky, I wouldn't care a bit. Too often, though, they're so excited at the prospect of another beautiful day that they want to let the world know about it. And let me know that they want to get out into the yard! At least, that's how I interpret their frantic bawking at ten past five. It's a good thing they're giving us as many eggs as we can eat!

(Also, I see that last year I was complaining about their noise over a month sooner, so I guess we're catching a bit of a break this time around...)

to the city for a fair

Friday evening Harvey reminded me that there was a fair happening at church on Saturday and he'd maybe like to go. I was doubtful... it seemed like a lot of work. Where would we park?! But then his brothers got ahold of the idea and it seemed unkind to deny them just because I'm a lazy homebody. So I came up with the plan of leaving the car in Arlington and biking the rest of the way on the bike path. Which worked great! We got to the fair maybe half an hour after it started, and stayed until closing time. And we did all the things... except win one of the big raffle prizes.

Elijah going in a bounce house

heading in for another turn

Besides the bounce houses—the heart and soul of any fair—there were all kinds of very simple games to play. Some of them gave you raffle tickets when you completed them, but I wasn't sure how many times we were meant to play in a row. It was less stressful to just play on the things we could do ourselves, like the cornhole courts.

Harvey throwing a cornhole beanbag, Zion waiting his turn


There was also unlimited free cotton candy, and pizza, salad, fruit, and juice boxes (not unlimited, to the boys' dismay); a painting table; and a fun photo booth. Harvey didn't have the best time after all—he was maybe a little old for the games, and he couldn't help thinking he could have been home playing Minecraft—but the other boys and I had a fantastic time.

As delightful as the fair was, though, the bike ride to and from was even more fun. It's been a couple years since we ventured down to that end of the Minuteman bike path, and there was lots to see and enjoy. Like playgrounds! Even the crowds on the path between Arlington and Cambridge were exciting—we never get half that many people on our end of the Minuteman. Best of all was Spy Pond, at its finest on a beautiful April day.

Zion and Elijah looking across Spy Pond

travel broadens our horizons


revisting a ride

On Tuesday I wanted to get out for a ride in the morning before the forecast rain. I was thinking MTB but, as we talked about it, all three boys requested a bike path trip (I think they were thinking fondly of Saturday's excursion). I was worried that would be a little tedious, but they were convincing so after a little bit of farm work we set off up the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway towards Lexington. It was fun: we went at a reasonable pace, we got to talk, and when I got bored I rode over things along the side of the path. But when we stopped by a stream for a rest and some playing, I had an idea. Some years ago we had explored part of the "ACROSS Lexington" trail system, and had a great time... maybe we could do that again? We did, and it was delightful.

Harvey and Zion riding on a singletrack path through a field

dirt under the tires

As I wrote in that long-ago post, the ACROSS Lexington trails connect sidewalks, paved paths, and woods segments all over town. Back in 2018 they went up to "H"—it's all the way to "N" now, but we still stuck with the original "A" route. Because besides a good ride, we also wanted to relive past glories! And see how much more impressive we are now. For example, compare Elijah in that old post to what he's up to now:

Lijah in the cargo bike looking at a wildflower garden and farmy shed

Lexington scenery

Elijah on his bike in a garden spot

now he has his own wheels

(We tried to reproduce the original as much as we could, but April instead of July made it hard!)

Zion was seven the first time, and had been riding for less than a year. Elijah is eight and an experienced cyclist, so he never told us he hated trail A except in jesting imitation. He did have to push up some hills, though; we haven't been riding that much lately and the seven or eight miles felt like a fair lot. Still, we made it in fine form, and quite a bit faster than last time too. Home in time for lunch, even with a stop at the Battle Green visitors center thrown in at the end. Good times. I wonder if there'll be any interest in trying out any of the other thirteen routes?


the complexities of personifying sourdough

Keeping the sourdough starter healthy, with the amount of bread we make, means sometimes throwing out some of it. I need to keep feeding it faster than I tend to use it up. Occasionally I feel bad for the starter that I'm washing down the sink or scraping into the trash or the compost. It won't get to fulfill its destiny of becoming bread! Then it occurs to me that, from the perspective of the yeasts and bacterias and things that make the sourdough so wonderful, dying in the over is maybe not the best outcome. Probably lots more opportunities available to them in the waste stream! So I try and wish them well as I send them on their superfluous way. I'm still going to make lots of them into bread, though.

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