At the beginning of January, my daughter and I spent our first ever night apart. Considering she was already seven, this was a big deal for both of us. My son and I have rarely spent a night away from each other, either. He homeschools, so most days are spent together, too. My husband and I both work from home. That is a whole lot of togetherness.
They all left me in January for a trip to Montreal and the countryside of Quebec. That meant that the first night apart from my family was followed by sixteen more. I confess that I was more than ready for all the alone time that their holiday gifted me.
It did feel like a present. I kept my own schedule. I ate meals when I wanted. I read entire chapters of books without interruption. I took walks that didn't feel like a theft from the attention someone else was craving. It had been awhile since I had been able to put so much thought and energy into what, for a lack of better words, I could call my spiritual life.
Years ago, when I was single, I regularly made story boards or collages to get my creativity revved up and focused for whatever clothing or jewelry design I was embarking on. While my family was away, I had fun with this activity again. Instead of a story board for a design line, I put together a vision board for my own personal year of 2022. I think the result has actually been life changing. Big words, but this is true. I became crystal clear on where the meaning in my life is meant to come from this year. I figured out what I want to do.
I intentionally engaged the process in a rush. I flipped quickly through magazines and seed catalogues and rapidly snipped out what caught my eye, not giving any thought to why. I picked maybe three images or words from each magazine. Not much resonated with me. I think that was a good thing. At the end, I had a pile of images and phrases. As I looked through them, this time with both my conscious mind and open heart, I realized I had created categories. I was filled with understanding of what I fancy to focus on, what I want to give, what I desire to learn, what I wish to retrieve. I look at this vision board most days. Sometimes, life being so busy, I go for a week or so between peeks. And then I take it all in again, remind myself of what I truly want, and sometimes find out that I am actively fulfilling my vision without even realizing it.
One of the phrases on my board reads "Spiritually Awake". Another is "For Family Fun" and still another "Family Routines to Refresh". These aspirations can get lost in the shuffle of daily life. Last week I hit it right and these were are rolled into one on after-school walk with my kids through the forested trails of Lily Point, followed directly by a visit to Maple Beach.
While my children played in the sand on the beach, I gazed across the ocean at low tide. Various sea birds were gliding through the sky and wading through the shallow water. While I looked out on the scene, I had the sense that I was looking straight into myself. I had that sense of being spiritually awake, just like on my vision board. I felt that I was capable in all sorts of ways I haven't been giving myself credit for. I felt strong. I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. I also reflected on how easy it is to get to this space in such idyllic surroundings: I live on a largely forested peninsula. A wave of gratitude washed over me.
I also felt curious about how effortless or not would it be for me to quickly slip into this state if I lived across the water in the small condos? Or if I lived in an industrial town? Or if my country was in a state of war? I sensed that I wouldn't be too good at it and I know that there are people who actually are. I went on to wonder why I wasn't managing to create these feelings more often during the daily tasks of family life, when I am surrounded by the people I love most. I think I need to get down to the ocean more often, since this is readily available to me, to revisit these feelings. And then I need to carry them right back up the hill and wear them as much as I can, without the view, and while surrounded by noise and even chaos. I wonder, if you don't live by the ocean or in a forest, where do you go for your reminders of your best self and to rekindle your spiritual life?
Of course, my garden is also a place where I feel my passion and at peace. This is true, especially in the moments where I don't have interruptions ("Mum, what can I eat?") or feel the pull of all the intersecting needs of family life that only I seem to be able to fulfill. I am fortunate for the daily moments when I am in my zone, planting seeds, tending seedlings, harvesting, and just breathing in the beauty. My garden is common place to me, however, and I suppose I need to be moved by other sources of beauty, to wake me up.
This week I finished almost all of the seeding of my veggie garden. I planted fennel and zucchini, lettuce and arugula. All that is left to go in are Brussels Sprouts, Pole Beans and Potatoes. They will all go in at the right time. Gardening is very much about timing. It is also also about choosing the right plant, to set ourselves up for the best possible harvest. I still try out new plant varieties but over time I have narrowed down a list of choices that each have a spot in my garden every year. If you would like to take a look, I have created a list of my favourite veggie seeds and where I purchase them.
Among the varieties on my list are tomato plants. I started these tried-and-true seeds and a few others in my greenhouse, in February. These plants are now mature enough for planting out and I will have these tomato plants for sale at the Garden Stand this Sunday, April 17th and Monday, April 18th. (Please note that this weekend the Garden Stand will be open Sunday and Monday rather than Saturday and Sunday. Your Local Small Market takes place on Saturday and that is where I will be. I want to be present at the Stand to answer all your tomato questions when you come by for your plants).
This year's tomato plants are:
Orange Banana (Roma)
Cherry Buzz (cherry)
Red Torch (oblong)
Oregon Spring (slicer)
Chocolate Champion (slicer, red with chocolate brown shoulders, dwarf plant, tasty tomatoes, perfect for growing in a container)
Chocolate Lightning (slicer, chocolate brown with green and gold stripes, intense and well balanced flavour, perfect to grow in the ground or a container)
These are all short season tomato varieties that are ideal for the PNW climate that we live in here on the coast. Our nights are cool, so I suggest creating some kind of framework that supports a plastic cover, in order to trap daytime heat. This can be as complicated or high tech as a greenhouse or as simple as a few bamboo stakes with a clear plastic bag that gets thrown on early every evening and removed again in the morning. A transparent, plastic cover is also important to use while rain is falling, in order to prevent airborne blight spores from being splashed onto the plants. This is also why you should never use overhead watering for tomato plants and why it is best to water in the morning, when the sun and winds of the day can dry off any water that lands on the leaves.
I made a new batch of Organic Saltbar Soap. This is one of my favourite soaps and the only soap I use for hand soap. The salt contained throughout the bar is a gentle exfoliant and also a disinfectant, helping to heal small nicks on our hands. Although salt is drying, this soap contains high levels of moisturizing organic olive and coconut oils. It has fast become my favourite facial cleanser, as well. Like most people, I turned to liquid facial cleansers, the kind that come out of a plastic bottle, years ago. However, I made the switch to my Organic Saltbar and there is no looking back. It is not drying at all. I also believe that this would be a great cleanser for teenage skin, as the salt helps clean up all the bacteria that is known to plague young skin and lead to blemishes. Of course, when my kids get there, I am sure they will be pleading for anything other than what I make!
My soap bars take six weeks to cure, so this batch won't be for sale yet. However, if you would like to try it out, I will bring bars from my last batch to Your Local Small Market this Saturday at the Community Centere. The Organic Salt Bar is stocked in the Community Corner at International Marketplace on Tyee in Point Roberts, along with some other wonderful local goods. Looking forward to seeing you this weekend! Wishing you a great week ahead! Chwynyn Sign up for my weekly newsletter https://www.slowbotanicals.com Upcoming Events: Every Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 5pm: The Garden Stand is open. Slow Botanicals are stocked. Saturday, April 16, 11am to 2pm: Your Local Small Market, Point Roberts Community Center Sunday April 17 and Monday April 18: Tomato Plants, Strawflower and Calendula Plants, Perennial Plants and Dahlia Tubers at The Garden Stand Saturday, April 23 and Sunday April 24: Cucumber and Eggplant Starts at The Garden Stand