A-Ramp-Hunting We Will Go

MY SWEET ELIZA is home from her California adventure, and we whisked her away for some well-deserved R&R following two years of working a job that asked so much. A few days in the mountains–where rest and relax are the exact formula–seemed just right. 

We’d hardly unpacked our soft-cothes-only wardrobes when I got this joyful text from our mountain neighbor, Jessie.

Ramps, you say???

Oh, yes.

 

I’VE KNOWN OF RAMPS all my life, them being regular mountain food in the part of the world where I grew up, where many folks lived from the land and made the most of whatever was available. In my mind it was akin to Poke Sallet, made from pokeweed, although I must say to my knowledge neither of these ever graced my mother’s dinner table. (Rather than anything fresh or leafy green we were much more likely to be eating Kraft Spaghetti–the box kind. Or frozen pot pies.)  So although I have long had an awareness of ramps, I am certainly not fluent. 

And heaven knows, I’ve never gone in search of.

But today these plants are a different thing entirely. Now the lowly ramp–which is sometimes called a wild leek, or spring onion–is a delicacy made so by swell young chefs of the foodie movement who’ve refined their preparation and feature them on specialty menus during their super-short growing season. Part of the appeal, no doubt, is due to this limited window during which ramps can be harvested and eaten. Look for the trillium to bloom, I have heard, and you’ll know: Ramp Season is on.

 

AND SO OUR neighbors planned an outing, and because they’re thoughtful they invited us to come along. They’d gotten permission from the landowner–a very important detail as many experts agree the elevation of the ramp’s status has resulted in a great decline in its population. So up that mountain we went.

My little heart beat fast at the sight of them, I’m not gonna lie.

 

 

We got on our hands and knees and dug.  

 

Gus, the pro

 

Gingerly, we dug.

 

Eliza, going strong

 

Then as the pretty white ramp bulbs emerged, Gus took a close look and made the call they were too small. Our friends needed a little more time to grow.

 

what a happy ramp

 

We did not despair but walked all around, looking at the early spring beauty right where we were, the miracles happening all around us right there in the woods.

 

 

 

Then we loaded up and headed for home, making one more impromptu investigative stop at the pond.

There are salamanders that live in that pond, you see, but only for a short time during early spring.

Might as well give it a look.

 

XXOO

 

I’d love to send a note each time there’s a new post on The Daily Grace. Just leave your email here.

When the morning comes.

 

Most nights we are in the mountains I awaken two or three times just to check for light at the foot of the bed. It’s something we didn’t realize when we bought the place, the fact our bedroom faces east. Which means we can leave the shade open at night, and when it’s time to rise God nudges us up and out with the most gentle, spectacular show.

 

 

I mean.

 

 

My first words each day are: Is it get up time yet?

 

 

Tim always says yes. Which is perfect because every day is different–and we don’t want to miss a thing. 

 

 

XXOO

 

I’d love to send a note each time there’s a new post on The Daily Grace. Just leave your email here!

The Gigantic Life Truth I’d Forgotten

IT’S A PITIFUL EXAMPLE for a gigantic truth that’s parked itself right alongside me like one of those huge roadside boulders in Southern California.

I was in my pilates class, and Jan–our superhero instructor– introduced a new, more difficult move that involved stretching forward to push down on a weighted bar while extending a leg behind you. It takes incredible strength and balance to create this horizontal body position, and it didn’t take long for me to determine I couldn’t do it.

I tried.

But then I decided: This is too hard.  This is too hard for me, given my weak shoulder. Considering my age. How tired I am. That rib thing. (I could go on and on.)

Then a whisper came that had already presented itself to me twice this week, insisting again:

You can do hard things.

 

MY DAUGHTER, ELIZA, has spent the last seven weeks 2000 miles from home. She’s there working with a beautiful, amazing child who spends every moment of his life doing things that are hard. Born with a tiny single genetic mutation, the simple control of his arms and legs requires enormous energy and concentration. He can’t talk or stand or walk, but spend five minutes with this seven year old and your very definition of determination will be changed. He fights for every movement, willing his body to do things it simply cannot do. He strives to understand, and to be understood, communicating in innovative ways that make the mere act a holy one. And he laughs. He laughs with such ease and with such boundlessness that joy fills all that is around him, all color and light, all pure, sacred goodness.

He stole my heart, this remarkable child, and I don’t ever want it back.

 

AND THERE IS ELIZA, who moved boldly into a new life in a new world, who gives so well in a job that asks so much of her. She is brave and strong, and I admire her willingness to step out and step up, taking it on even when it’s hard.

We can do hard things.

I will strive to remember this the next time I face down something that requires more of me than I want to offer, the next time my inclination is to quit or to turn and run toward an easier path. 

 

 

We can. We can. We can.

XXOO

I’d love to send a little love note when there’s a new post on The Daily Grace. Just leave your email here.

And then we experienced San Diego.

 

Y’all. San Diego. It’s all true.

We had just arrived and were still in the airport the first time I said, “It feels like we are in a futuristic city where they finally got everything right.” I mean. It was clean. Signage made sense. The bathroom stall walls and doors–each and every one of them–went all the way to the ground.

And then we got our rental car (which took approximately 22 seconds) and headed for three days in Oceanside. I shared that part of our journey with you last week–the post with too many pictures–and now I want to tell you about the next five days that we spent in San Diego.

Or since we’ve already set the precedence, may I just show you?

 

pretty San Diego, from Cabrillo National Monument

 

the lighthouse at Point Loma

 

Spanish Village Art Center at (magnificent) Balboa Park

 

(It is as awesome as you hear.)

 

Salad. Again.

 

Anteater alert!

 

Lunch at In-N-Out. Yes, it was worth it.

 

La Jolla

 

Rocks and Sea Lions. Everywhere.

 

We brought the rain to Southern California! (Plus I can’t resist a bird photo.)

 

top of the Torrey Pines hike

 

Looking down.

 

At the bottom.

 

lovely southern california

 

I love San Diego.

Get thee there, if you can. And fast.

XXOO

 

I’d love to send a note each time there’s a new post on The Daily Grace. Just leave your email here!

California! Part One.

I want to share it all with you, every photo, every comment, every would you take a look at that. It’s my first time in Southern California, a last minute trip we planned so we could visit Eliza during her months of work here. (You know Tim and I will go just about anywhere, just about any time. There is so much to see in this world.)

We spent a couple of days in charming Oceanside, then drove Highway 79 up to Palm Springs where we walked Palm Canyon Drive, found Dinah Shore Drive (you have to, right?), then made the incredible journey across the rough and rugged San Jacinto mountains to San Diego. It gave us an incredible view of the Coachella Desert Valley.

And now we are here in San Diego. Eliza arrived last night to spend the long weekend with us, and we are all excited to see what this fascinating city has in store.

 

Ready for the journey!

 

Oceanside

 

a little obsessed with the cute beach cottages

 

Oceanside’s famous pier

 

love the retro vibe

 

the famous Top Gun house

 

(just because I like him)

 

Tim and Eliza on the jetty

 

Pacific Sunset, Oceanside Harbor

 

sunset and surfers

 

Let’s go to Palm Springs!

 

on the valley floor

 

Crazy landscape!

 

We’re here!

 

I’ll just have the turkey sandwich.

 

You got to, right?

 

 

fascinating desert landscape

 

looking down on the Coachella Valley, home of Palm Springs

 

We brought the rain to San Diego. But Eliza arrived safely!

 

XXOO

 

I’d love to send a note when there’s a new post on The Daily Grace. Leave your email here!

the snow moon

 

The Snow Moon comes tonight.

Still I can’t help posting these photos from last night.

 

 

Because for the first time in many, many years, I happened to be where snow fell all day long.

 

 

 

 

Then as day began its slip to night, 

 

 

temperatures dropped to the low 20s

  

 

and a big ol’ moon rose bright over the tree tops.

 

 

I love February.

 

 

 

XXOO

I’d love to send a note when there’s a new post on The Daily Grace. Just leave your email here.

 

 

 

Mother.

 

 

 

I’d like to introduce you to Mother, the grande dame of our mountain property. From the moment I saw her I knew she would be a fierce spirit guide for my adjoining studio.

How grateful I am for her abiding presence. I am awed by her fortitude; fascinated by her wizened shape; amazed at her faithfulness as she continues to sprout tender green shoots each Spring.

Even now, in this harshest of seasons, Mother stands by. Resilient. Proud. Unrelenting in the face of winter here in these ancient mountains. 

 

XXOO

 

I’d love to send a note when there’s a new post on The Daily Grace. Just leave your email here!

two thousand three hundred eighty-one miles

I DIDN’T GO WITH HER to the airport this time, an action easily justified with the cruel and early departure time. I did wake up, however, before the clock clicked over to our agreed-upon 4 am rise and shine. She wanted to shower; I wanted to be upstairs to check–for the  ten thousandth time–that she had everything she needed for the long journey ahead.

It’s what we do as parents, right? Worry, and plan, and counsel, and cajole. 

You’ll want some room in this suitcase to bring new things back.
Let’s get a strategy for what to do when you feel lonely.
Here’s my friend’s number. You can call her anytime, no matter what you need.

We’re so proud of their courage, but so worried for their safety. And happiness.  And their comfort, for heaven’s sake.

That portable charger. Carry it in your purse. Is it in your purse?

“Yes, Mom,” she said. Over and over and over again. “Yes.”

And then we hugged, and waved goodbye, and just like that,

she was gone.

 

a sweet travel journal from her friends

 

 

I’d love to send a little note when there’s a new post. Just leave your email here!

 

 

Gifts of a New Day

 

It’s one of those things you wonder how you made it a lifetime not knowing.

~~~~~~~~~~~

We’d come to the mountains for a long weekend just the day before, arriving late and promising that since it would be Saturday, we really were going to sleep in. But morning came and our eyes opened and before you could say October we were out on that deck, coffee in hand.

There was the tiniest thread of light just along the ridge line.

 

moonrise1

 

We inhaled, exhaled, and gave thanks for another day.

But then I looked closer. There was also a rising crescent, a sliver so slight I wondered if my eyes were playing tricks. There, just above the mountain. What is that? I said to Tim. It looks like the moon.

I think it is, he said.

But it’s morning, I said. And that’s about where we expect the sun to rise.

I got my big lens, and this happened next.

 

moonrise4

moonrise5

 

It’s difficult to tell since the zoom changes from image to image, but just as the moon began to disappear, sure enough, right behind it (and just slightly west) came the sun.

 

moonrise3

sun1

 

sun-2

sun3

 

It was the New Moon, I’ve since learned, one that all these years, from the beginning of time, has risen with the sun.

Wow. And thanks and praise!

 

I’d love to send a little note when there’s a new post on The Daily Grace. Just leave your address here!

 

Autumn Glory

 

It’s been an interesting thing this year to get glimpses of autumn as it has made its way to these mountains. The very first sign was a single tree–I kid you not–among the thousands that crowd the Black Mountain range as it runs east to west behind our place. That spot of magnificent gold among the deep, deep greens of late summer held our interest for several days.

 

primegold

 

Then there came other changes, but subtle. They were most visible in early evening with the sun angled just right; its perfect rays spread across those ridges like a giant hand with long fingers of light stretching wide to reach them. The leaves still shown green, the mountains blanketed in a lush, dense carpet. But now there was something else, an undercolor. It was as if this was a canvas on which the artist laid down a burnt umber ground, the whole of the mountain transitioning in a slow, quiet flow. And it was all taking place below the surface.

 

underpainting

 

Then the reds began to appear. Dotted here and there, their gorgeous color making an unmistakeable pronouncement:

 

redsofautumn

 

It is time.

 

realreds

 

changingleaves

 

 

I’d love to send a note each time there’s a new post on The Daily Grace. Just leave your email here!