We’ve all heard how important it is to eat a diet high in roughage. Likewise, “roughaging” (spending time outdoors) is essential to our mental health. Even if it’s a settee on the porch, we need it, gotta have it. I aim to be the reason you pulled your bedding out the back door last night.
If you know me at all, you know I have a penchant for hexagons. The hexagon, a shape that speaks the zen of the busy beehive or the wired manors of chickens (the oldest domesticated animal on Earth), symbolizes the unity and structure of the farmgirl life—a framework for the proper order of things, a pattern for life. In unwritten feminine language, it is a standard for farmgirls, or for that matter, the ordinary honeybee or the hen, rank and file workers that move the work along. It says that all things are to be done decently and in order, and that small things add up.
Add that to the latest in TV treats, Treehouse Masters, and you’ll come up with a recipe for the perfect getaway, honeybee. Take a look …
Close your eyes and imagine the scent of spring rain …
Can you smell the moisture, unfolding leaves, and rich dampness of the awakening earth?
I’ve written about this before but I recently caught another whiff of a fragrance that has its own name (as all classic perfumes do). It’s known as petrichor, which Wikipedia defines as “the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil.” The word is a combination of the Greek petra (stone) and ichor (the fluid that flows in the veins of the mythological gods).
Interestingly, MIT researchers who study the ephemeral science of this singular scent have just determined how petrichor is produced. As enigmatic as the chemistry behind that old book smell, the aroma of rain—particularly pronounced after a spell of warm, dry weather—can now be explained in technical terms that essentially boil down, as Treehugger.com puts it, to “the fizz and frenzy of raindrops liberating the ground’s unique fragrance into the air for all to smell.”
I love the delight on my girls’ faces when they wake up to find themselves facing the pinnacle of childhood freedom: the snow day.
Photo, Oregon Department of Transportation via Wikimedia Commons
They’ve been hoping for one with each snow we’ve had. I’ve never known a kid who didn’t love a snow day. And that got me wondering about snow days of yore.
Just like today, kids enjoying a snow day 100 years ago might break out their Flexible Flyers for a slide down the hill. The sled made its debut in the 1910s and by the end of 1915, consumers were purchasing 2,000 sleds a day.
Photo courtesy of The_Childrens_Museum_of_Indianapolis via Wikimedia Commons
After sledding, they might come inside for hot cocoa, but making it was a whole different ballgame in the days before microwaves and convenient packaged mixes. Hot cocoa had to be boiled, a long process that involved steeping cocoa shells or cracked beans and could take upwards of an hour.
While waiting, siblings and friends might have enjoyed a friendly game of Rook, a card game invented at the turn of the century whose deck did not include any face cards, thereby rendering it useless for gambling and safe for family play. By then, the gang might mosey back outside and gather teams for ice-barrel ball, a sport that falls somewhere between hockey and basketball and involved two opposing teams trying to throw a ball into a barrel while ice skating.
I’m sure those kids got all tuckered out, just like mine. It’s good to know some things never change.
You know the old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Well, what if life gave you lots of snow instead? You’d make a snowman, of course, or better yet, how about a giant sea turtle?
The Bartz brothers from New Brighton, Minnesota, have done just that, right in their front yard, and it’s not the first time they’ve caught the attention of the neighbors. Their tradition began four years ago with the creation of a giant puffer fish, inspired by one that was caught by the brothers while fishing in Florida. The next winter brought a walrus, the one after that a giant shark, and now a 37-foot-long sea turtle stands 12 feet high outside their front door. The boys spent about 300 hours sculpting the turtle with snow gathered from 11 neighboring yards and a tennis court in their neighborhood. The snow was hauled to the garage on a sled to warm up a bit (think perfect snowman snow) before being mounded in the yard and sculpted using only hands and shovels. The sea turtle encourages a steady flow of traffic to the neighborhood, and admirers of years past say this sculpture is the best yet.
The Bartz brothers hope to maintain the sea turtle for another month before allowing the inevitable return of spring to melt it. They plan to continue on with their sea creatures theme for a bit, and then they might enlist the help of their fans to decide what’s next.
All proceeds (minus shipping and packing) will benefit www.firstbook.org, a non-profit that provides new books to children from low-income families throughout the U.S. and Canada.
MaryJane will post a photo of the prop and its cost here along with a few details as to its condition. The first person to call the farm and talk with Brian, 208-882-6819, becomes the new owner of a little bit of herstory. Shipping will be either USPS or UPS, our choice. No returns.