Monday, April 30, 2012

Oh brave world-how have you changed!

A lot of other people's spring weather seems to have been whacky, but ours is suddenly reverting to an age-old pattern of alternating sunny stretches with heavy rain showers; the perfect gardening weather on a year when my garden is cracking under the pressure of everything else. Ah, well, everything else has been either necessary or pretty darn fun.
Whenever we come to The Mainland, there's always a kind of shadow agenda. It's never just "let's go see a show and have fun!", it's always let's go celebrate mom's birthday/see a show/visit Goodwill bins/bee store/hardware store. There's always tons of errands to run. 
Thankfully Seatown is the place to get keyed and coffeed up. While Mali desperately wanted to go to supercool Stumptown, we ended up in old shcool Fremont, where the barista actually once drew a skull on top of my latte when I pointed out that their non-organic soymilk probably had gmo-soy in it. Snap! That's a pretty cool way to get back at those annoying hippiesters.

Not that there aren't hippies in Fremont.
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Our one constant in Seattle is Hardwick's hardware store, the only hardware store I can spend time in.  Hardwick's is really old-fashioned, with tons of stuff and lots of staff to answer your questions. Whenever someone tells me I could be something online for cheap, I'd always rather come to a place like this. I like to touch things, talk to people.
There's an old Finnish saying that "a poor man can't afford cheap things", meaning that you should rather buy based on quality and not price, because otherwise you end up buying the cheaply made, worse quality things over and over again. It helps if there's a knowledgable salesperson to help you.
I mean look at this place! Mom and pop stores are the best. There's a hat store in downtown Seattle that C. frequents (he went this time sans Mali and me) that's a hundred years-old and has at least three staff members there at all times. You're not just shopping, you're learning a ton about the product you're buying.
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 Same with bee stores. Each time we visit one we end up learning some new trick, some intricacy particular to our regions apiarists. Bee store owners are without fail founts of useful information. 
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Funnily enough, when we first entered the store, he was taken aback when we started asking about supplies. "I wouldn't have taken you for a beekeeper." he told me "I just thought you were buying some honey. Not many young beekeepers around here." Well that's about to change.
Both my colonies made it through the winter and hopefully will have a good, productive spring. My ability to manage them is still a little shaky, but so far we've done well. 
It was such a thrill to see them fly out, the brand new golden babies, a few generations removed from those I fed in the fall, coming in with their happy orange dandelion pollen pants. 
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Creatures everywhere around here are out in force. Little lambs and baby cows, birds, both exotic and not. These guys live at our feed store. I read somewhere that peacocks beget peacocks. If you have a few, you will have more, apparently. 
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Our friend's down South had some new additions to their flock. 
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Trees are blooming, the cherries and plums almost done, the apples in full. Feeding my bees, encouraging them to fill their sacks with light green pollen.  Some animals, of course, are less hard-working. No matter, it's important to remember to laze about. 
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Amidst classes, wild crafting, house renovations, getting sick for the second time all the while C.'s sister was visiting, secret projects and live-stock management, I have gotten in a few outings. We're still at the cob, a swallow's nest of a house, but look forward to moving back to our own house in the next few days.

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With the weather alternating wildly, I've had plenty of opportunity to both get sun-kissed and wear my new Softspoken beret
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There have indeed been many plants and animals out and about, including some wild and weird ones.
More peacocks, with giraffes, toadstools, whisky-drinking frogs, owls, dragons, gmo-bugs and countless bees, roaming the streets. Friends of ours patterned this celebration for Earth Day after a famous one in Olympia. 
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Our costumes were last minute, but it was a lot of fun. I recommend every community start something like this; a parade for life and fun!
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Amid all the hubhub and hard work, C. and I took some much needed alone time. Of course, we are alone together all the time, but so often we are tired, or busy and it is important to just spend time, talk, or not, just be in each other's presence. 
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So we went mushrooming. It is the tail end of the morel season and for once we were there right on time. We never get more than a meal's worth, but the point is not the haul but the auspices of ambling in the forest, paying wild attention. 
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Morels are magical. More often than not they hide in plain sight, a few feet from the path, clearly visible but hidden, revealing themselves only to those who are looking. If you find one, you'll sometimes find another, a third. If you try to see them, they appear, as though out of nowhere.

Once I saw C. looking at something in a little thicket-y nook in the trees. I strained my eyes and saw a huge more right there, as though in a spotlight. "Wow. How'd you notice that?" I asked in awe. "What? He said. He had been looking at something else, not even noticing the morel. Magic I tell you.
They often grow near these orchids, sharing their habitat. 
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We also gathered other edibles, namely fiddleheads, which have some controversy about them, but we eat them anyway. They can be a little bitter, but with butter, salt and pepper they have an asparagus-like texture. 
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Morels aren't the only one's good at hiding. Find the frog, win the prize.
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That's quite the haul for only three hours of gathering. And a pinecone imitating a morel. They do that.
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These little blooms have no chlorophyll in these little blooms. No one quite knows how they function. Nature's magic. 
There are easier ways to add wild to your meal. Simply gather some dandelions. 
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Oh and since I'm at Sister's house, I can't help but give you a little sneak peek of our other time consuming project.  Hope she won't be mad. Back to work then. Happy Spring Days, bees and blooms and birds!


  1. ooooohhhh what a luscious treasure trove of goodies! from the bee store to the creature parade to LARKSPUR!!!! so much exciting passion going on up north. and you, radiant queenie, in the midst of it all with your wild goods and crafty digs and sweet openness to life. this post was such a delight to start my morning. i am filled with love, sunshine and merriment. thank you sweet sister!

  2. Good to see you back 'round these parts, sweet pea. And with such good feeling, too. You've been sorely missed! I love that Heather started her day with this post, and I'm just finishing mine. Can't wait to see more of your new project! Oh, time to go; the horse is calling!

  3. Woah! Someone's making up for lost time, two mega Milla posts?!?! Yay, what a treat, and I see your life has indeed been out of control in the best of ways! So much good stuff it's overwhelming :) Oh man, Clover would LOVE that parade, so many wonderful handmade creatures and you are just about the prettiest little dandelion I ever did see! Such a creative community you live in and speaking of creativity, I adore where Mali is going with her Larkspur sketches, so good :)

    This is making me want to come up for a visit super bad. I know you'll soon be here but I think it may be time for us to begin scheming a way to get me up there at some point as well.

    I'm excited about Arcadia after that glowing recommendation and I've still got a gift card from my birthday for a local bookstore. Now I know what to do with it!

    Love you, so looking forward to next month!

  4. so much awesomeness in one post!! i don't even know where to start...the baby goats...the bee store...the procession...the mushrooms! wheee!
    so wonderful. there's so much magic in pacific northwest springtime.

  5. Good times! Reminds me of our little town. I love our little hardware store. And ahhhh morels. Yes, we only seem to find enough for a meal, but man is it enough. I agree with you. I think every town should have a parade like that!

  6. Hi sweet girl, most of all, I'm so happy that your bees made it! You must have a large bag of old fashioned talent and much love for those creatures. And Fiddleheads! i knew I recognised them, they look like our Pikopiko, which is peppery and has been eaten by Maori since before White settlement - I have a type of balsamic vinegar which has pikopiko or fiddlehead in it - gourmet if you will!! (so snazzy). I'm very excited about Larkspur, you are so industrious. i wish I were half as much. Are you a dandelion? i think you must be.
    much love

  7. My parents used to go out collecting fiddleheads when I was young. I've never actually eaten any, but part of me wishes I liked them if I ever do get around to eating them, just because it feels like something it would be good to like if that makes any sense hah. I enjoyed picking them with my parents, that's for sure! I didn't even think of there being bee stores out there, but I guess that makes sense! I bet you really made that old fella happy, seeing a young beekeeper :) That old hardware store reminds me of the one in my old home town. It's been gutted and turned into a car wash and a pet store now, but I remember its cramped aisles full of tools and supplies, the squeaky floor and the friendly staff who seemed to have worked there forever and knew every nook and cranny and what use each item had for what task. Looks like your life has been chock full of productive activity, and good to hear you'll be going back to your own house soon :)

  8. Holy moly long post full of goodness! Looks like you've been having some fun :D I love your description of the bees with their pollen pants, and the wild food hunting- never have heard of fiddleheads! And I'm super excited to see what you girls are up to with those awesome water colors!!!!

  9. Fiddleheads... that's a sweet name for them. If they are the same plant (a type of fern) that grows here, we had a much more sinister name... dead man's hands. My parents used to terrify us on walks in the woods, telling us that they were the gnarled hands of the dead reaching up to grab us...we knew they were ferns of course, but we still ran like hell! I can totally recall the heebie jeebies! Cruel parents!!

  10. oh i love it all! post full of magic as usual :D

  11. How your posts lift up my spirits Milla! I always feel so creative and magical after reading them. So thank you,you seem to warm our hearts and soul every time . Keep them coming please!

  12. i'm stoked to find out more about larkspur! just those illustrations woke up some sleepy, but happy, part of my heart.

    i think my new name for you will be dandelion pollen pants. (so glad to hear your bees are doing well!). arcata in humboldt county used to have an all species parade. i miss that paradisical place. even though your costume was "last minute" you are absolutely adorable.

    i love hardware stores, especially the old fashioned kind. i think they're inspiring and dreamy. i so appreciate your grounded and folksy approach to being in the world...just that sentence "i like to touch things" says it all. xoxo

  13. We eat fiddleheads here in Massachusetts...what is the controversy?

  14. You in front of the house!! Bestest.

    Seriously, not to ignore the downfalls and setbacks we all face, but your life is a charmed dream. I am honored to be witness to it :-)