Rilla and I made a bug snug yesterday. I don’t have a photo of it yet (too cozy to get up right now, and anyway if I go downstairs I’ll be swept into The Rest of the Day and this post will float into the drafts pile with the hundreds of other unfinished musings I’ve amassed over the years), so I searched for bug and then bee in my photo library. So. Many. Bee pics. This one isn’t the crispest but the red coneflowers felt more apt for this November morning.
Anyway, the bug snug! You make a tripod of sticks or canes—we used this video to assemble it—and fill it with twigs, leaves, flower stems, grass cuttings, all the wealth summer left behind in your yard. This creates habitat for overwintering insects. Also it’s very cute.
The bug snug is part of our big project: participating in Portland’s Backyard Habitat Certification program. The new house has a biggish corner lot, beautifully landscaped by the former owner (she’s my hero—oh the care and love she lavished on this house!), mercifully pesticide free, with roses and berries and perennials, but also a lot of grass. We’ve begun our project by sheet mulching over the grass along the retaining wall that runs along our corner sides (the front and west sides of the house). I’ve planted a few perennials there and some wildflower seeds, but the main goal for now is to knock back the grass and create beds for planting native shrubs and pollinator plants in the spring.
The kids were surprised when I told them it will likely be two or three years before we get to the Silver certification level, and longer than that to qualify for Gold. For me, the leisurely timeline is a comfort. It’s a puttering project, a little here, a little there, doing what we can do.
Huck has done most of the digging for the south-side border. We’re sheet-mulching over the grass (layers of cardboard, compost, and leaf mulch), but we needed to remove a narrow grass right along the retaining wall so we could tuck the cardboard down, and he’s making another narrow trench to edge the bed. He has discovered that he loves digging. This is excellent news for his mother.
Well. It’s been a minute. After such a long silence, I can’t imagine anyone is still checking for new posts here. And yet I’m writing!
If you’re on my newsletter mailing list or my Patreon, you know this bit of news already—I’ve started a Substack and will be posting there twice a week. Lots of reasons for this shift, as explained in my entry post. I’ve put the Patreon on a long-term hiatus and am giving myself a year for the Substack experiment.
But that doesn’t mean I’m abandoning this dear old corner of the internet. Quite the opposite. One of the reasons I moved to Substack is that it allows subscribers to get new posts via email. (Or on the website, or in the app.) But of course I don’t want to spam everyone’s email with daily posts. And since writing begets writing (a truism I experienced in full force during my years of daily blogging), I’m boiling with quick, raw tidbits of thought. Like in the old days! Too raw to plop into people’s inboxes.
(Take that extremely clumsy metaphor, for example. If I’m boiling, how are the thoughts raw? At first I wrote “unpolished.” Maybe the better metaphor is a rock tumbler. You collect the rough stones and dump them into the tumbler with a bit of grit. Hmm, I like that. Let me think about it.)
I did a few days of Summer Brennan’s Essay Camp and loved her take on a daily practice of writing a “Five Things” post:
Just quiet your mind for a moment and then write the first true thing that comes to you. Something you’ve been thinking about. Something you noticed or saw. There is no need for explanation or preamble—just dive right in. There are no wrong or stupid choices.
I’ve been doing a version of this for basically my entire adult life, in fits and starts, in notebooks and—for a good fourteen-year stretch—on this blog. (Or one of my side blogs. Remember when we all had side blogs? I had a bread blog, a daily-homeschooling-notes blog, a private blog. So many blogs!)
The “five” is an arbitrary number. In my notebooks it has most often been three. Three things that caught my attention today—images, ideas, remarks. The funny kid quips that used to fill these virtual pages. The reading notes that moved from Bonny Glen to my Kindle, almost without my noticing.
We’ve seen other iterations of the Five Things concept over the years—Jen Fulwiler’s “Seven Quick Takes” idea, or what was that other format? It went something like: I’m reading, I’m seeing, I’m thinking about…I loved reading those. Trying to recall the name of the blogger who began them. It started with a P, I think. But wasn’t Pioneer. Poppins? Penny?
ANYWHO. Five is a good number. I’m liking how the rock-tumbler image fits it: imagine picking up five pebbles a day to toss into the tumbler. Five rough, unpolished stones. Just about the limit of what I can hold in one hand.
I’ll play with that for a while and see if it feels like the right practice. It’s all a big experiment. All I want to do in this space right now is collect pebbles.
Like this one!—outside the window of my studio space in the new house (it’s a truly scrumptious space; I’m still pinching myself to see if it’s a dream) there is a giant Norway maple. It’s in our neighbor’s yard but half its branches overhang ours. I love this tree, even though this species is considered invasive here in the PNW. (I am constantly having to wrench tiny, adorable maple seedlings from the cracks in our walkways.) I loved it all summer when it was an amiable green presence against the morning sky. And I love it even more now, with its leaves gone golden and half of them falling. Every morning: more gaps of light. Behind this tree is the eastern sky. I get part of the sunrise off to its left—enough sunrise to make me gasp some mornings—but I’ve known that I’ll get the whole pink sky behind the dark branches this winter. And now it’s coming. In the blue dark before first light, pinpricks of morning shine through the leaves. More than pinpricks now—stars. I’ve never before welcomed an oncoming winter like this. But no rush—these golden curtains framing the glow—for now it’s perfect.
There. One pebble for today.