Tag Archives: seasons

Waiting for Spring

by Kate

She’s standing in the window on the radiator dancing, singing, and telling stories.

ballerina baby in the window

Snow is falling softly.

There is a park across the street and this morning she asked me to take her there. It is cold though, a raw wet dismal damp last day of February cold with snow falling like frozen drops of spittle from a bedraggled old white haired witch in the sky.

I didn’t take her to the park. It was all I could do to push the stroller up the hill this morning with a heavy baby in the sling and a huge bag of sheet music slung over my shoulder, headed to play harp for the old folks who have lost track of time. I haven’t.  I am ready for spring.

So I will let her dance on the radiator on this long grey afternoon, while we dream of spring.

A New Summit

By Mary

Snow. Some might say it looks pastoral. Others might describe it as beautiful as it falls heavily down in thick flakes upon the still and sterile earth.

My description of it’s arrival would be honored with one word: BLAH. I said it the day this picture was taken in Russia, and I will say it again, and again.

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Today is yet another snow-day  It is the third day in a row school has been delayed or canceled. The Wednesday night Kickboxing class I participate in and the confirmation class that I teach at our Catholic church on the ridge have also been canceled today.

It’s hard to slow myself down and live in the present in the midst of this slow snowy week while I counter an impatient attitude and a restless heart. Today the mud of March seems rather sublime as the snow billows in light sifting clouds. It is at times such as this that I need to remember there is goodness in everyday.

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Each season offers its own novelty.

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And each day provides a new beginning to hack away the ice and reach a new summit.

Resting and Restless

By Mary

In a heavy winter coat and pink snow boots that I am often times teased about due to having two nieces 6 and under sporting replica pairs, I trudged towards “life” also known as an assortment of narcissus bulbs that are being sold at the Viroqua Food Coop. The narcissus bulbs I purchased are a representation of the eagerness I feel for the goodness of springs sunlight.
Throughout the Christmas season I got a slew of Christmasy mail. After that stopped coming the seed catalogs stated arriving in the mailbox. How those catalogs make me happy! I am a child of the sun. In November it is time to give the fields a break.

fall fields

And to put aside the boots that trod through the mud and dust.

 farm boots

The days of cow work on my horse, Mars come to an end as the fog gets thicker in the morning and the days grow both colder and shorter.

ranching cowgirl on horse

Both the Father farmer and the Farmers daughter are getting restless.

farmer and daughter brussel sprouts

My father, a former journalist (but never a poet) has now taken up the occupation of writing poetry. I came across him scribbling with his famous illegible scrawl the morning after Cale’s wedding in a MN hotel room. If any of you know Patrick Slattery you know the man doesn’t just get a little into something, He gives a full 100 crazy choleric percent. In the hotel room I said: So what’s the deal on this poetry thing? His response was that he aimed to not just produce 1 poem. Oh no, the goal for that father of mine is to write 2 poems a week. ” Um, okay” was the reply from me. Fast forward to the next next: by that time he had written 2 more pieces. It has been about a week since he has beecome a poet, and frankly by now, I have totally lost track of how many poems have been churned out. All I know is that he is scribbling and muttering a whole lot.

poet father

Dad’s wintertime mania isn’t something that I can judge fairly seeing as I am falling apart myself. I have put a considerable amount of thought into buying lambs, seeds, and most embarrassingly a 2 piece bathing suit. Never mind the 2 slight facts that I like water about as much as a cat does, and I am about as comfortable in a swim suit as a Amish woman. Hey come on now, those are just minor details! Buying a bathing suit in January just seems to make sense!

I guess poetry does too in context with seasonal restlessness. All I can say is that I am SO ready for April. As an additional note: Poetry really isn’t that great (sorry Colleen). I mean, really… I would way rather have Dad babbling about asparagus and compost.

Oh Wisconsin, you only have 3 more months of badness left to give!

More about our Farmer Father and Sumner Sister here:

Farmer Father

For Mary

Seasons and Tides

by Mary

June and July have sailed past in a rush of summer frenzy. The months have come and gone so quickly that it is hard to believe August is already here and unraveling. However, the telltale signs blackberries turning from red to black…

and garlic hanging to dry…

are natural signs of summer passing.

This year, we’ve had the driest summer on record. Up until this month, there was almost no rain. Pastures and fields turned from the usual lush green to a very unrecognizable brown.

Despite the drought, I’ve found many things to be grateful for. Around the time that the rain stopped coming, in May, Raphael and Colleen came back from UD. As siblings, we’ve had our ups and downs.

Despite the rows and the rolling of eyes, I already know come September I’ll be missing them.

But like the tide that ripples in and swells out on the waters of Lake Michigan, or the ripening of the blackberries, or the drying of the garlic, it’s time for Colleen and Raphael to experience their seasonal progression. They’ll be migrating back to the University of Dallas in the next few weeks.

Surely Raph and Colleen will not go unmissed. But come winter, there will be Christmas break, which intersects with Cale’s early January wedding. More on that later!

Until I see my younger siblings in the cold of winter, my hope is that they continue to grow in Texas, and that the rain starts to fall with consistency here in Wisconsin.

A Sense of Wonder

by Kate

The clouds have been low and looming the past few days, with grey skies and intermittent cold rain. Bare branches and rattling leaves cast spiked shadows, and at night the bright silver moon peers through the bony fingers of the trees. The flaming glow of autumn light has faded, but this picture is currently set as the screensaver on our computer, reminding me of autumn light streaming through the changing leaves.

It also reminds me of the importance of nurturing a sense of wonder. Living with a small child is a remarkable opportunity to remember to be open to discovery and delight on a daily basis. In this park, I often catch myself wanting to take Olympia’s hand and rush forward, toward something different and something new. I have to take the time to stop, crouch down, consider the intricacy of the leaf she is holding, or the mysterious depths beneath the grated drain cover. There is wonder everywhere- waiting for us to open our eyes and behold it.

Confessions of a Homeschooled Cook

By: Mary

This past Sunday when making the traditional Sunday noon meal that all family who live here in Wisconsin come over for, I thought about why I like to cook and bake so much, and why it is something that I can do with ease. I realized that what it boils down to is that when growing up I was homeschooled for 10 years. There are two highlighted areas that I came to excel at from this time in my life. I can’t say that I came out of as a science wiz, or that I became an educated Shakespearian pro. As far as the study of math is concerned uh, I will confess to having learned that if I burned my undone math sheets in the wood stove, then well, they would be gone forever!

What I really got good at doing were 2 things: I learned to compose stellar book reports. Doing book reports meant that I could read books. My gosh, I think that I used to crank out like 2- 3 of those reports a week.

The other thing that I got really good at was learning escape from the food that was always staple in the house and make things that I liked instead. We always seemed to have 3 things around besides my Mom’s great homemade bread. One was spaghetti. It’s been years since those homeschool days, but I still cannot tolerate pasta. We also made tons of brownies. (I still do like brownies but have found a recipe of my own.)  And last but not least, chicken. Chicken was a very, very usual staple at the Slattery table. While my Dad was still a full-time journalist, he was also experimenting with farming ventures that involved raising, butchering and selling home-grown meatbirds. Because my Dad is a gregarious marketing kind of person, he decided to go one step further than simply growing, and selling chickens. He ended up collecting recipes from farm wives and old church ladies that he would encounter while out on story assignments. His cookbook  ” Fifty Thrifty Ways To Cook Homegrown Chicken” still makes me laugh every time I see it collecting dust on a shelf. My laughter is caused by the sheer fact that the cover model for the book is a scrawny highschool girl named Kate Slattery!! On the cover, Kate is beaming at the camera while holding a huge roaster pan full of Home Grown Chicken. Needless to say, it is far less flattering to hold roasters of meat in an old apron, than to be a glamorous harpist in full costume….

Anyhow, yes, I do know a thing or two about putting together some good recipes. Thank you homeschool education. In the future I would like to share more of my favorite recipes with you Readers. Be prepared to use lots of vegetables and sugar. I LOVE produce and unfortunately, I also love to bake. Perhaps one day I can have my own recipe book floating around the house like my Dad’s with Kate beaming from the cover and a dish in her hand. Just kidding! Before I close my laptop though, I will include the current favorite cookie that I have been making this fall. It has oats, nuts and apples in it, so just tell yourself that it is healthy and enjoy the goodness of using freshly ripened apples just like the ones in the photo below from one of my favorite trees.

Apple Oatmeal Cookies

3/4 Cup  Butter, 1 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar, 1 Large Egg, 1/4 Cup Milk, 1 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla, 1 Cup Flour, 1 1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon, 1/2 Teaspoon Salt, 1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg, 3 Cups Oats, 3 Apples or so diced, 3/4 Cup Raisins or Chocolate Chips, 3/4 Cup Walnuts.

Preheat Oven to 375. In large mixing bowl, combine sugar, egg, milk,and vanilla. Combine melted butter next. In separate small bowl add dry ingredients together. Alternate the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Stir in oats, nuts and chocolate chips or raisins last. Drop rounded Tablespoons onto greased cookie sheet with about 2 inch spacing. Bake 13 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes then move onto a rack. When cookies are cool, put onto plate.

I hope you like this recipe. Also, if you ever want to read a good book report….I am more than willing to share….!

Sincerely, Mare

Sweet Adeline

By: Mary

I recently made a promise to have my niece and goddaughter, Adeline over for a sleepover. Well, this past weekend I lived up to my word. Adeline is a rather unique four year old. She is extremely tough, stubborn and particular (perhaps, that’s why we get along so well!). Being that she is so particular, she was insistent on bringing along what she packed in small 2 wicker baskets. Her packing included not one, but two sparkly pairs of shoes- one pair pink, one pair gold. She also brought her high boots to match the knee-high boots I had on at the time. A horse pendant necklace and 5 pairs of underwear were the other things she deemed necessary for the evening and morning stint away from home. My recommendation that she bring a coat was met with less enthusiasm.

At 6Am my niece woke up and announced that it was time to go ride Mars. I had to cut a compromise with her that involved waiting til a quarter to 7 to watch The Little Princess and eat a breakfast. This nutritional meal was complete with cookies, and left over chocolate milk and skittles from the previous night.

Later on in the morning after Clare was awake (Adeline really helped play a part in waking both Clare and James up) the trio of us left to ride my horse. Clare was very happy to join us, being that her other option was to help with a squash harvest that my Dad was looking for assistance with.  Below are a few pictures from the ride that the girls took up the lane, and to the Ridge History Park. At the park, I was able to try to get Adeline to become disenchanted with my Mars so I could lope circles in a nearby freshly cut field. This didn’t work so well because she is much more interested in four legged friends than  merry go rounds! What a gift it is to have a horse crazy stubborn goddaughter.