Home Life

Beyond the homesickness

Frost on the ground as proof that it is still winter in California. Simple bare tree sunrise and birdsong, plus some heartache.

Beyond the heavy desires for country living and pace,

Even the frost melts slowly.

for land and relationships with non-humans,

Getting up before sunrise means that you have time for frosty pictures, second breakfasts and walks down old farm roads. All before 11a.m.
The cows were loose. This means that as we walked through them, they approached with curiousity while at the same time shuffling herd position to protect the young. Docile and friendly, there was also no mistake in our minds that if so provoked they could pummel us to the ground. We averted our eyes and cooed as we walked by, while Fern "Mooooed!" like a banshee. We're lucky she didn't start a stampede.

for more ground, in the literal and metaphorical,

The silhouette of solitary pines is so iconic for me that the sight of one has the effect of knitting me back together at the core.

there is


The nights were cold but the early spring days were warm. Saturday we walked across the Sundial Bridge, to play at the edge of the Sacramento River.

My daughter.

Goose butts, river otters and baby bellies...all part of the water's natural history.

And the goodness that she deserves. The goodness of safe space in which to stretch, grow,

Almond tree in bloom

explore and play.

Redding is so stoked to have this bridge built by world famous architect Calatravas. I might get shot for saying this, but I think it's an eyesore. However...
...the truly amazing thing about the bridge is the way that it brings people outdoors, and provides relationship with the river. On this day, there were hundreds of locals enjoying the day, and there was a wonderful sense of community. All of this within steps of downtown. Not a bad place to raise a kid, you know what I mean?

The goodness of a body that knows dirty knees, dusty feet, cold creeks on hot days, and eyelids drawn shut by a cricket’s rhythmic lullaby.


Beyond desires for my self alone, there is my desire for her. That her childhood home be both inner and outer. That what books spark in her imagination can then be played out onto the greater stage of backyard, of wilderness, of garden, animal, tree…home.

This weekend I witnessed as she unfurled herself with her newfound steps in her exploration of life beyond four walls. Often in the city, in the tower of my own mental palaces, I wonder if my instinct to root us down stems from idealism or fantasy. After all, with good home life, I do believe children can flourish anywhere.

Then I see it, the way that she orients towards the green grass and the blue sky, banging on the glass door to go out like a frustrated cat. I watch her pause when the wind whips by her, and smile in pleasure as she picks up the exuberance and runs after it down a hill. These are things that I can give her in small doses in an urban life. A nice backyard maybe, day trips to the park, weekend excursions to well worn hiking trails around the bay.

But I don’t want her relationship with nature to be tethered to a car, or dependent on her Mommie’s stress level and whether or not the parental units have the bandwidth to take the time to pack the bags and the snacks and the change of clothes and to get gas and make lunch and watch for cars and get the dog in the back of the car…just to go for a walk in the woods. It was magic, being able to open the back door, to step out with coffee in the early morning light and be serenaded by the birds awakening, while letting her totter around…all without needing to worry about whether or not she would fall off the stairs out back or if she might go out into the traffic.

It was nice that the major threat concerned her giant noggin and some fencing.

Human ecologist Paul Shepard says this:

The archetypal role of nature–the mineral, plant, and animal world found most complete in wilderness–is in the development of the individual human personality, for it embodies the poetic expression of ways of being and relating to others. Urban civilization creates the illusion of a shortcut to individual maturity by attempting to omit the eight to ten years of immersion in nonhuman nature. Maturity so achieved is spurious because the individual, though he may be precociously articulate and sensitive to subtle human interplay, is without a grounding in the given structure that is nature…Indeed, the real bitterness of modern social relations has its roots in that vacuum where a beautiful and awesome otherness should have been encountered.”

An illustration of modern social relations. (We got out all my old baby dolls, most of which I don't even remember, and Jeff set up this scene. We particularly like how the cupie doll to the right of her has an expression of "Sigh...I wish I could be a real girl...".)

You already know the foregone conclusion.

We need to move.

And the conversation has begun on how to disentangle ourselves from our lives here, how to begin such a complicated process, and how to attract what almost feels like the impossible into our near future…

A home for Fern’s childhood.


5 thoughts on “Home Life

  1. Girllll Lovely photos as usual ๐Ÿ™‚

    Im coming to San Francisco early August!!!!! You are on facebook right? Add me – Martha Moo ๐Ÿ™‚

    So looking forward to seeing you, meeting your man and your gorgeous little one! I hope you will be around ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. You know, the work it takes to make all the wildness and beauty you’ve made in the city might actually be more work than all the steps necessary to find a home in the wild… that just occurred to me, reading this. Probably you’ve thought that a million times. Love, A.

    1. in many ways i agree with you…trying to sustain the magic in the city takes equal the amount of effort to sustain a container garden. growing things just do better with more ground. and i am exhausted from the effort.

      however, moving takes two resources that currently are in short supply…money and flexibility of all parties not directly involved (you know what i mean). here in the city i can be resourceful because the basic resources of shelter and home are taken care of.

      but in both cases, the creativity we’ve been cultivating will come in handy. xoxo

  3. I just read your blog properly – you have some big decisions to make! I am sure you will find the perfect place for your gorgeous little girl to grow up ๐Ÿ™‚ xo

    1. thanks martha!

      i can’t believe you will be here!!! oh yes, we will hang out for sure!! wow, i feel so blessed to get to see you again…it feels like lifetimes have passed for both of us. i can’t wait to see you!!!!!!!!!

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