18 days until spring

Despite having 3 feet of snow on the ground, I am dreaming of digging up dirt, planting seeds, hatching chicks, yoga sessions on our back deck and making herbal tinctures in the summer sun.

I am eager for spring. At work, I sneak in a few blog posts from the Elliott Homestead just to satisfy my appetite for blooms and homesteading projects. At home, Mosi sleeps in my lap while I scroll through local hatchery sites. Charlie draws maps of our garden and keeps our houseplants alive. I think we are ready. Ready for warm, thawing winds and new growth.

Every once in a while - when I get too excited - I have to remind myself: “baby steps Laurel. Baby steps. Slow down. Celebrate the small victories.”

Small victories like surviving a full work week.
Finding good books at the library book sale.
Trudging through deep snow drifts on a sunny afternoon.
Watching my tulips and paperwhites grow tall and green.

This afternoon was especially a victory. I went out to take care of the chickens and collect eggs. The usual brown eggs were tucked away in round nests, but in one dark corner I noticed a solitary, olive-green egg. At first I thought it was a duck egg left behind by our recently deceased duckies, but on closer inspection I realized it was a genuine Joanna Egg.

I could have not been a prouder homesteader than in that moment.

After 12 months of the most nurturing care, nutritious food, warm housing and companionship, our beautiful ameraucana (Joanna) has finally figured it out and laid her very first egg!
I am almost too proud to actually eat it - I’ve waited too long to have a lovely green egg!! Here’s to hoping she will keep laying and not give up.
Yes. Today was most certainly a small victory.

So even though winter still resides in our hills, Charlie and I give thanks for each day. And we both lean on the promise of spring.

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frost on the farm

This morning I woke up to a world of stunning frostiness. Winter has finally come to our part of the world and I am totally okay with it. I mean - look how beautiful our yard was while I was doing chores.
I’ve been thinking about how Winter encourages slow living. Daylight hours shorten, temperatures drop and sometimes deep snow makes it impossible to leave the house. So we invest our time in projects like home improvements, crafting, cooking good things, music and reading thick books. Out of necessity we go outside to split wood or shovel snow, and even though we grumble about such things, we secretly enjoy the vigorous exercise. Not to mention how satisfying it is, to come inside from the cold and make ourselves cozy with hot tea by the heater (or wood stove).
Already Charlie and I are slowing down, bundling up against the cold and preparing for our human version of hibernation. Charlie has started a batch of pumpernickel bread he learned to make from a gentleman in Sweden. The bread takes 5 days to make - from mixing the dough, to setting overnight, to baking loaves. I have started learning how to knit. (Charlie says this makes me an old grandma - which I take as a compliment.) I love the rhythm of the needles - the texture of wool yarn. To me, knitting, or any kind of handiwork, is relaxing. Therapeutic.
Last night, I rummaged through our closet to find hats and gloves, and we donned four or five layers of clothing to go for a night hike. Even though the sky was cloudy - threatening to snow - I could see the Big Dipper, hanging low and bright near a line of treetops. Our breath came out in clouds and my toes were numb, but we were happy walking hand in hand.
I guess what I’m saying is this: use this season as an opportunity to slow down. Don’t hesitate to start a creative project or pick up a stack of reading material. Make the most of cold evenings at home, but also go outside to admire Winter’s frigid beauty.

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Sweden | Part 1

Aug. 30
”Oh my soul is so happy.
We just arrive at the most delightful lakeside cottage near Vastervik, Sweden. Cecilia (our host), met us at the gate with an arm full of sheets and blankets. She and her her husband Gregor live in a rambling, red house covered in vines. Just outside our cottage is and old wooden barn (where the outhouse is located), an outdoor shower and two apple trees. The peacefulness is overwhelming - .”

“Sigtuna is the oldest town in Sweden - established in 980 AD by vikings. We admired quaint houses painted in pinks and yellows and greens. We found rune stones on every street corner and old church ruins standing magnificently even after many centuries. Most of the ruins date back to the 11th century. NBD. What a crazy thought - that this town has been in operation for over a thousand years and uses the same streets vikings once walked on.”

“In Vastervik it was bitter cold and pouring down rain. I wanted to go swimming, but Charlie convinced me to go hiking instead. We might as well have been swimming - we were soaked through before too long. I was too happy to notice and Charlie was too busy looking for rune stones. He never did find any. But he did find a few unimpressive piles of stone which I’m sure were ancient monuments. Charlie’s trail map wasn’t very clear. And we didn’t know what “fornlämning” meant at the time.
By the time we reached our car, we were chilled to the bone. We rushed home and showered in the ice cold, outdoor shower before curling up inside with hot chocolate and soup.”

Sep. 1
”After visiting the castle in Kalmar, we drove over to Borgholm and parked near a beach. Together, we jumped into ridiculously cold seawater, thrashed about to prevent hypothermia, and scrambled back onto the dock to dry off. I had a couple of flashbacks to swimming at Onset Island….
Next, we combed the beach for anything of interest. Crabs - none. Shells - none. Moon jellyfish - 1. Seaweed - plenty.
Charlie found a plastic cup halfway buried in the sand and used it to scoop up the jellyfish. We gently stroked the top of it’s soft, jelly body and watched it swim about. I don’t know why, but that moment is one of my favorites from the entire trip. I guess I’m grateful to have a husband who loves the small moments as much as I do.”

The boat on the far right was our home for three nights.

The boat on the far right was our home for three nights.

Sigtuna, Sweden. EST. 980 AD

Sigtuna, Sweden. EST. 980 AD

A quaint alleyway in Sigtuna

A quaint alleyway in Sigtuna

homemade Swedish crepes for brekky? mmmm yes please.

homemade Swedish crepes for brekky? mmmm yes please.

hiking in the pouring rain

hiking in the pouring rain

A giant snail I almost stepped on. They were EVERYWHERE.

A giant snail I almost stepped on. They were EVERYWHERE.

A hen house that was converted into an Airbnb. Tiny and sweet and comfortable.

A hen house that was converted into an Airbnb. Tiny and sweet and comfortable.

Me. In front of Astrid Lindgren’s childhood home in Vimmerby.

Me. In front of Astrid Lindgren’s childhood home in Vimmerby.

we didn’t get very many photos together - but this one is a favorite of mine.

we didn’t get very many photos together - but this one is a favorite of mine.