Updated: Mar 4, 2020
What a delight to be featured in the current issue of Where Women Create Magazine (on stands November 26, 2019). This beautiful and inspiring publications features so many talented artists and designs. I am truly honored to share a little bit about my garden in it's pages. I hope you'll pick up a copy. I will have some available at the Shops at Station 8 in Columbia Falls - it is available at major retailers as well. It's so fun to reflect on the bountiful season in the garden:
As the summer sun casts its first light over the mountains, creating a shadowy haze of blue light, the girls and I head out to the farmyard. Our boot-clad feet leave prints in the dewy grass as we make a trail to the chicken coop to gather eggs, letting the birds out to forage. The hens cluck their approval; they, too, are anxious to get to work. Next, we water the plants in the greenhouse, popping a few ripe tomatoes into our mouths before gathering herbs for our breakfast. Then, we stroll slowly through the garden, picking a few weeds, harvesting a few veggies and stopping to smell the flowers -their fragrance filling the crisp air.
The morning offers opportunity to praise God as the giver of life. The honey bees busy themselves with an early visit to the blooms; their fuzzy legs balanced delicately on pink and red petals before they take off somersaulting towards the sunflowers. Izzy, our rescued mare, begs for oats – she is a talkative old girl. Then, as if on cue, the pigs start in grunting for a scratch from little fingers, hoping for carrots tops and a pile of scraps to snack on. We linger. Unhurried.
I read once that in the Bible the Hebrew word for home and rest are the same. Home is here in my garden where creativity thrives. It’s where you’ll find me when my soul needs recharged. The splendor of living among creation under the big Montana sky compels my heart to sing for joy. One of the blessings of homesteading is the rhythm and cadence it brings to the seasons of life – it requires intention and reflection. Back in January, when the seed catalog arrived, I poured over it as if it were the Sears Christmas catalog. Then I began plotting on graph paper the rotation of this year’s crops factoring in the seeds I’ve saved over and the new varieties I’m hoping to try. I’m always learning and growing – considering what I might amend. As I stroll in the garden this morning with my girls, I’m already reinventing the plot for next year and at the same time celebrating the color and wonderful abundance
before me. It’s easy to reflect in moments like this how I, too, have changed over the year. I think about what I hope for myself and for them. And for all of it, I lift my heart in praise to God.
“Look at the big, happy marigold, Mom!” Elaina exclaims, pulling me back to the moment. Delighted by the mass of blooms, we recall our doubts earlier in the spring. In March, I started pulling out trays anxious to start seedlings in the greenhouse. In our corner of Montana, the growing season is limited, and winter inversions in our mountain valley reduce sun exposure for months on end. It can lead to cabin fever or worse – the snowbird effect. To bring joy back into the late months of winter, I dreamed up a greenhouse where heat mats and dusty sunlight help me break through the frost of too many months in the cold. When
life is tough and my thoughts heavy, I head out to that bright and beautiful space – dig my hands into the warmth of the potting soil and lift my prayers to heaven. A hymn will come to mind and I’ll hum it while, with a thankful heart, I press life into the little pot in front of me. It’s amazing how quickly my mood changes. My core identity grounded in the rich, glorious and soul-satisfying truth of God’s promises tangible in the form of a seed.
The greenhouse was a whole family effort. I dreamed it up, sketched plans, coveted Pintrest photos, and then began hording piles of windows. It was not a priority project for our farm. But I held out hope - for years. I collected materials until it could come together. I salvaged lights from my dad's old rodeo arena and the brick floor from nearby house destroyed by fire. The large windows came from the parsonage at the Baptist church and the stained glass from an eastern Montana farmhouse. I had a pile of left over siding stacked in the barn. That's how it works around here: I get a wild hair and then my sweet husband helps me bring it to life. He sure does know how to love me well. He puts us all to work cutting boards,
drilling holes, painting and problem-solving. If asked, the girls are quick to share their contributions and proud to show off their handiwork. In the end, we’ve created something functional and beautiful from the trash heap!
Once satisfied with our haul, our chores completed, the girls and I head back to the house to rest over a second cup of coffee and to make a slow breakfast together. Elaina cracks eggs into a bowl pausing to compare the bright yolk to sunshine before she calculates the average number of eggs we’ve gathered and eaten this year. She loves story problems and math. Evie grabs a knife and stops me before I remind her not to cut her fingers. She is nine after all. She strips rosemary leaves from the stems and chops them into small pieces. She wants to talk about the last book she read – it’s a historical fiction about pioneers. We aren’t in a rush. The dish, a quiche, comes together quickly as our many hands work together. While it
bakes, we talk about the day before us. In gratitude, we thank God for not just the food, but for all of it – this beautiful place, this treasured life. We remember those who are hungry and hurting – and pray they feel peace. I savor these moments together as I know the ingredients we have raised, grown, and gathered empower my girls -as do these moments we share together in the kitchen. Their identities shaped by the rich experiences of our life. They are taking their place among generations of strong and smart women whose hands and hearts feed the world.
Together we water and weed. We collect. We learn. We practice patience, marking out days and weeks from germination to consumption. We know it is worth the wait. Unexpectedly, I’ve created foodies –kids who politely eat food of which they’ll later complain was lacking in flavor, “Mom,” they’ll confess, “they used old, bleached eggs! They tasted dead!” My girls know where their food came from, the work required to produce it, and the importance of providing quality feed, fresh water and care for an animal which we will butcher in a few short months and serve on our table. They are mindful of making healthy choices for themselves and the world for which they, and we, are responsible. I suppose this is what it means to be a farmer, God’s caretakers of the earth, and what more could I hope for my daughters?