The Winter Field

One of the cool things about living for twenty-plus years on the same piece of land is being able to see the long term results of our actions. Like the 150 foot hedge that we planted along the busy road fifteen years ago. It’s twenty feet tall now, ten feet wide and impenetrable. And beautiful in the fall.

Or our “winter field”. The winter field got its name because it is the only field that stays dry enough that we can have the horses on it a little bit in mid winter when everywhere else is too muddy. To protect both the land and their feet, our ponies spend much of the wet season in their roomy barnyard paddock, on top of some serious drainage (4 feet of rocks, gravel, then hog fuel).

When we first moved to our muddy valley, a couple horses had been left too long on the winter field, nibbling it down to bare earth. After the horses left, we did nothing (no money, no time and three small kids) and by the next spring, much to our relief, it had greened right up with a mix of grass, clover and plenty of weeds. A couple years later we started putting our own horses on it. They ate down the grass each year, but not the weeds, because horses are picky. We tried to encourage the grass, because more free grass means less outlay on hay to feed hungry horses. We did our best to avoid overgrazing and kept the weeds sort of under control by mowing, hand pulling and, one expensive year, even plowing the whole bloody thing, fertilizing and reseeding. We tried the same approach in the northwest field.  Sadly, a couple years later, both fields looked just the same; grass, clover and plenty of weeds. 

More years went by, and then in 2012, we got six chicks and built their coop next to the winter field. By 2013 we had lots of chickens (that’s another story), who happily free ranged in the afternoons year round, nibbling greens and enjoying bugs, scratching things up a bit but not too much, leaving their droppings behind. 

Life continued, and here we are another eight years later, with the winter field transformed! Especially the area nearest the coops which looks amazing. The thick emerald grass is trimmed slightly tall and fairly even by the flock’s sharp beaks, and completely weed free. It looks like the ‘after’ picture of a weed n feed commercial, except for the chicken poops nestled here and there. Ten feet away, the grass is still lush, with scattered bits of clover. Ten feet more, the grass / clover mix is more pronounced and there is a weed or two. About forty feet away from the coops, where the birds don’t hang out as much, it looks more like the before-chicken winter field.

It has to be our free range poultry who have made this dramatic difference, nothing else has changed! It appears that given the right set of circumstances, chickens are superb groundskeepers. 

Regenerative agriculture is having a moment right now, and I totally get why. One regenerative ag strategy involves running livestock lightly on the land where they can forage their own feed, fertilize with their droppings, and disturb the soil moderately with their activities, improving fertility and production. Our winter field, before and after introducing chickens, is an accidental testament to this idea. It’s quite remarkable.

Around here, as we experiment with more regenerative approaches (my new raspberry patch is ‘no till’ and RG uses lots of the techniques), the health of the soil and the plants and animals that it nurtures just keeps improving.

If I had the time and energy, I would have chicken tractors, staffed by feathery groundskeepers, set up at forty feet intervals all over, and let the place really go to the birds.

Phytophthora In My Raspberries

Phytophthora root rot fungus has been creeping through my poor raspberry patch for the past few years, wreaking its slow motion havoc on first one cane, then another. 

High soil moisture, something we have no shortage of around here, creates an ideal habitat for Phytophthora. It prefers heavy soil and slow drainage and its spores can swim from plant to plant through the soggy ground. In my patch, affected canes grow, set fruit, then wither away, their roots rotten. It really sucks.

I have two means of control, removing infected canes and improving drainage. This helps, but the patch is slowly declining. So this year, I decided to start fresh, and put in a new raspberry patch in a higher spot. I had to buy new canes, since mine are probably all infected, so I chose Phytophthora-resistant varieties, some summer fruiting and some everbearing, ordering them in January to be sure of supply. 

I’m planting them without disturbing the soil underneath, a regenerative gardening technique that we have good success with here. I lay down feed bags, pile RG’s precious compost high on top, and plant straight into it. The feed bags will rot, smothering the weeds and grass I laid them on top of first, and the raspberry roots will grow down into the earth, and all through the delicious compost. I will seed grass on the pathway bare spots, and as the grass grows between my bermed rows, I will mow it and use it as mulch. (I’m imagining broad emerald green pathways between fruit-laden hedges…can’t you just see it!?!)

It’s nice starting from scratch, having the opportunity to change what I don’t like about my old raspberry patch. I made the pathways between the rows good and wide so I can get a lawnmower around easily. This will provide plenty of elbow room for picking at harvest time too, my old patch is crowded and it’s hard to get down the rows and spot all the berries.

Deer and rabbits are plentiful here, so an effective barrier is a must have. I used metal posts that won’t rot in a few years like my old pencil posts did; some recycled from an old rain shelter and some good old t-bars that were lying around. DH kindly chopped the ends off some rusty bed frame rails for me, so I’m using those too. 

Metal hardware cloth or chicken wire works well to deter the bunnies. I went with the cloth this time, folding it so that half lies on the ground, skirting the entire border, and half climbs up the fence. I top this skirt with several feet of deer netting, zip tie it all together, and secure it to the ground with six inch landscape staples. That’ll keep the little buggers out.

The gate is half recycled 2×2 and chicken wire panel and half bent green willow, with zip tie hinges. No need for it to swing freely, it won’t see a lot of traffic. I still need to hang netting or something in the archway.

I planted my new raspberry canes the other day, and picked up two more today to fill the last two spots. If these do well, I shall put in two more rows next year or the year after, planting them up with suckers from whichever of my resistant varieties (Prelude, Nova, Killarney, Joan J and Honey Queen) do best. 

I have a few marionberries and a couple thornless blackberries well established  in my old raspberry patch along with my ailing raspberries, so if the new patch does well, I will let the marions and blacks take over the old one. Phytophthora doesn’t affect them. 

One of the gardening hacks I’ve learned over the years is to flow with the realities rather than struggle to make something thrive where it doesn’t really want to. If my old raspberry patch doesn’t want to grow raspberries any more, I won’t compel it to. In the garden as in life, persuasion is better than force.

The Chores Equinoxes

Spring is just around the corner, March 20 to be exact. Here in our muddy valley, the first chores equinox of the year, which took place yesterday, is a sure harbinger of spring.
Chores equinox happens twice a year; it is the first and last days that the evening chores, which must be done at dusk, are done after one sits down to dinner.
I love both the spring and the fall chores equinoxes. This time of year, I look forward to all the long evenings I can spend outside after dinner. In the fall, I look forward to chores being the last outside job of the day, followed by dinner and a snug evening indoors.
It felt a little strange walking out there with a full tummy last night, rather than an appetite!

A South-facing Barn

In my experience, nothing beats a south-facing barn. On cold sunny winter days like today, with the snow blue and crunchy and the mud frozen into hard ridges underfoot, the morning sun rises at just the right angle to flood both stalls with sunshine right to the back wall. Lucky equines, to be snug and dry and munching breakfast while sunbathing.

In the summer the sun tracks much higher in the sky, and except in the very early morning the stalls, thanks to the roof’s overhang, are plunged into deep shade, a cool retreat from the heat of the day.

Our prevailing south westerlies and winter northerlies are well blocked by the barn’s design. In stormy weather, the big sliding barn doors may sway a bit in the wind, but they never slam open, or shut. The rain never blows inside the open stalls either. It’s the height of mud season right now, and except where our little desert flower donks have peed the stall floors remain dry as a bone. Resourceful and fastidious donks have set up their own temporary “indoor” pee spot, about 2 x 2 feet, which they use carefully and exclusively, so they can avoid putting even one dainty hoof on that horrible white stuff. They have a separate small spot where they deposit their manure. Good donks, this makes them easy to clean up after.

The loft stores upwards of 250 bales of hay and thanks to our new roof vent keeps it dry and mold-free year round – an impressive achievement in our wet west coast climate and a real money saver, since we can buy enough hay for the whole year at the peak of haying season and at its best price.

I don’t know if the builders were barn design experts, or if our barn’s functionality was just a happy accident, but either way, the almost fifty year old building still does its job beautifully. Over the past few years, it’s needed some restoration work, as well as a new roof, and it’s been money well spent and a job well done by our soon to be son-in-law. This morning, as I hung out enjoying the sunshine and listening to the equines contentedly munching their hay (such a peaceful sound), I once again quietly thanked whoever designed and built it. Form and function, this humble barn has it all.

West Coast Snow Dayz

With more than a foot of snow falling over the last couple days, getting around the barnyard has been a trial. Especially hauling full water buckets. RG came home today from a weekend at her boyfriend’s (it’s ok, covid safety is important to our family, he’s in her bubble) and promptly shoveled all the hundreds of feet of trails I had stomped through the drifts while doing chores, right down to bare ground. She also texted me a few times as she worked, to warn of particularly slippery areas. ❤️

DH cleared the whole driveway, multiple times. And worked on our road along with the other neighbourhood guys and their tractors. A narrow lane really, that dead ends not far past our place, the municipal plows don’t exactly prioritize it. He also carefully filled the back of my truck with snow, packed and levelled for safety, in case I need to go anywhere. We have a fairly large parking area and drive, his snowbanks are now taller than his tractor. ❤️

Chores were so much easier this morning, even though I had some fence repair to do. George had once again knocked down the electric line between him and the donks, in a fit of pique about the weather I’m sure. I can tell it was him and not the donks because a) he is the one with the temper; and b) the donkeys have not set foot outside their stall since the ground turned white. I had to move their water inside, when I realized about twelve hours in (!) they had not gone for a drink since it started. The chickens don’t like it either. All the barnyard crew are getting fed up with this white stuff, they tell me so every time I go out to see them. Except the ducks who love to eat it, puddle around in it, and turn it into a soggy poopy mess, much like they do bare ground.

I am getting fed up with it too. I don’t know how my prairie relatives manage their version of our Canadian winter. Better than us west coasters handle this snow I’m sure…

A Dog’s Life

Our little dog Chance is a creature of habit. He is also blessed with a robust internal clock, so that all his days, as far as he can manage them, unfold right on schedule. From the moment he wakes up, to climb sleepily into my lap where he will snooze for another hour and a half while I drink coffee and read the news, (the only time of day he even considers snuggling in the recliner with me) until he successfully wrangles me onto the couch in the evening so he can press first his head, and eventually his entire length, up against my leg and, you guessed it, sleep, each day’s events unfold in the most predictable, most delightful (from his point of view), manner.

At the same time, he can be very adaptable if he so chooses. Nimble in fact. If one day I randomly hand him a dog biscuit as we are coming in from the barnyard, he adds this exciting event to his list, and the next time we come in from the barnyard, he beelines to the closet door behind which the dog biscuits live, where he stands eyeing me with a confident air, genially wagging his tail. If I keep walking, turn the corner and head up the stairs, he quickly deflates, his body language screaming his disappointment, and trails glumly after me up the stairs. He will keep asking for days, if not weeks, every time we come in from the barnyard in the afternoon, before he’ll sadly strike “receive dog biscuit after barnyard” from his schedule. Lord help me if I give him that après barnyard treat more than once in a month! He almost needs counselling to finally let go.

The daily schedule around which Chance’s life orbits consists mostly of events involving food, although specific types of snuggle time on specific pieces of furniture with specific people are right up there too. As is going outside at specific times (ostensibly to relieve himself, but really to yell at anyone, man or beast, daring to use the road in front of our house), play time with Arrow, feeding the horses in the evening, and to cap each day, his chew chew (rubber bone stuffed with tiny treats).

I admit I do indulge him, and yes he is a manipulator. I am quite aware and I do allow this; I take reciprocal pleasure in making my dog happy. Chance’s schedule harmlessly choreographs our days, and has for years. I know that his schedule makes my little rescue dog feel secure, but sometimes his fervent adherence to it still surprises me. 

Each day after early morning barnyard (for me, he stays behind snuggling in bed with DH) he and I go into my office where I nudge my computer awake and grab him his daily half a dentabone. I throw it, he grabs it excitedly, and I “change my mind”, chasing him down the hallway and into the living room, growling that I want it back. He dearly loves being chased, he cavorts and practically giggles as he goes. Then I laugh and give up, he plops down and begins to devour his treat. I retreat to my office, shut the door, and start to check my email. After a few minutes, his single soft ‘scritch’ at the door signals that he’s ready for breakfast, which I serve in the kitchen, then back to my desk. Another ‘skritch’ a few minutes later tells me he is ready to go outside. Generally his barking gets him brought inside again, usually by DH, and eventually another soft ‘skritch’ tells me he is ready to take up his position on his six inch foam bed under my work table, where he snores away the remainder of the morning while I conduct my business of the day.

The other morning, I had a deadline and was already working when he got up from DH snuggle time and skritched at my door for his dentabone. Knowing that he would just sit there, softly skritching every few minutes, until I gave him what he was “owed”, I grabbed half a dentabone, opened the door, and dropped it at his feet, then closed the door, sat back down, and got back into my task. Until. Skritch. A minute or two. Then, skritch. “Oh jeez.” I thought, “He’s got to be kidding, it’s not enough to get the treat, he wants me to chase him too?” Realizing that the quickest route to peace was to indulge him, I got up again and opened the door, whereupon he grinned up at me, picked up his half dentabone in his mouth and tossed it high in the air over his shoulder into the hallway, pivoted, pounced on it, took possession, and ran down the hallway giggling, with me in hot pursuit. 

“Excellent” I could practically hear him thinking as he plopped down to chew, “that’s done properly now, and rightly so.”

A Redemption Story

Last Sunday night, a heavy old tubular steel gate that had been hanging, chained and locked, at the end of our barnyard driveway for more than 25 years vanished in the night. All that was left behind was the plastic netting (carefully folded and set aside) that had been zip tied along its base to keep chickens and ducks from wandering onto the busy road, and a couple broken chain links. DH reported our theft to the police, and the fellow who took our report said it was a first for him in more than 3000 calls…usually people enter and exit through gates to steal stuff, they don’t actually steal the gates.

Scavenging a gate from between two fields elsewhere on the property, DH and RG spent much of the day installing and theft-proofing it. Of course, as with any farm chore, the usual number of tangential roadblocks cropped up along the way, each having to be dealt with as it arose. DH’s farm truck battery died at the feed store where he’d stopped to ask them to call us if anyone came in looking for farm gate hangers. RG had to go give him a jump, after one from a kind stranger didn’t work. Then, as well as the new chains and locks, DH had to go buy a new truck battery. Funny how vehicle batteries always die when the weather turns cold, isn’t it. It ended up being a fairly expensive day. Good locks, chains, and truck batteries don’t come cheap.

On the advice of middle daughter, the organized one, I wrote a quick Facebook post and sent it to a couple ‘what’s happening in our community’ pages. My post got lots of attention, so it didn’t take long for the local print and TV media folks to come calling, looking for a story. We indulged each as they came, because of course any publicity just might help. Maybe someone had seen our large (12 feet long!) gate travelling down the road. Maybe someone had noticed a big old gate appear in their neighbourhood. With a replacement looking like it was going to cost north of $300, and the usual insurance deductible meaning the cost would assuredly come out of our own pockets, we really just wanted to get our old gate back.

Lots of folks reacted to the story, we read all the comments, which ranged from sad to mad to everything in between. We enjoyed seeing RG on the evening news – it’s always fun when family is on TV. And that was it, I thought, Muddy Valley Farm’s fifteen minutes of fame. I’d been surprised by the level of interest, and was happy when things started to settle down. I liked the idea of sinking back into quiet obscurity.

The last interviewer who had come by had said as he departed “You never know, it might just turn up, I’ve seen it happen.” I wasn’t holding out too much hope, but thought that if our gate was to reappear, it would come in the form of a call from a good samaritan reporting a gate in the ditch somewhere. Mostly though, I thought that probably we’d just never see our old gate again. Luckily, the gate we’d scavenged to plug the opening onto the busy road wouldn’t be needed between the barnyard field and the Tarzan Tree field until the weather improved, and we could let George and the donkeys out onto grass again.

The week went by quickly, as weeks tend to do, and every morning as I walked out to feed, I’d glance up at the driveway entrance, thinking of what that last interviewer had said, and hoping…on the off chance…

Friday night was a frosty cold one, and the barnyard was gorgeous as I walked out to feed early Saturday morning. I glanced to my right as I crossed the winter field, and saw…something?…what the heck? I set down my buckets and fished for my glasses on their string around my neck, squeezing them on between my scarf and my toque, then peered up the driveway again. The gate almost looked like it had…doubled? Walking more quickly now (could it be??) I dropped the feed buckets at the barn door and headed up for a closer look. Were my eyes deceiving me…or…OMG, the old gate!!! It was back! Leaning against the new gate, it’s chain securely taped (so THAT’s how they kept it quiet!), it was definitely our old familiar gate. The rust spots were just where they were supposed to be, but the metal cash box (which we hadn’t used for years since we stopped selling manure) was missing. I didn’t care, our prodigal gate was home!!!

I pulled my phone out of my pocket, which was not easy as it was nestled under several warm layers, and called DH who was in the house enjoying his morning coffee. “THE GATE IS BACK!!!!” I shouted delightedly. “Really???” he said, and then he laughed and laughed and so did I. We were both shocked. What a head shaker. Then I texted my sister “holy sh!t, it’s back!”, but she never got the message because I accidently sent it instead to a random ex-coworker in my address book whom I hadn’t talked to for several years. Suffice to say I was a little stunned.

By now George was stomping around expressing his strong displeasure at his feed bucket’s delay, so I carried on feeding him and the donks, letting out the ducks and giving them feed and water, then over to the coops to do my chicken chores. When I got back to the house I quickly dashed off another post to let everyone know the good news. One of the nice things about good news is sharing it, so that was fun. Of course the media folks got back in touch for follow ups, and the TV guy is coming back today to interview RG again. I’ll have to congratulate him on his insight.

All in all, it’s been an interesting experience, and I’m thankful for it. Good and bad, these are the happenings that enrich our lives. At its heart though, this is a redemption story. Unknown persons came to our farm, did a bad deed, saw how it affected us, regretted their actions, and then righted their wrong; redeeming themselves in our eyes and, I believe, in the eyes of the universe too. Redemption narratives are as old as humankind, and for good reason; they give us hope. These days, with all that we are living through with this pandemic and everything else that’s going on around the world, a good redemption story provides sustenance to our souls. I don’t know who took our gate, and I likely never will, and it doesn’t matter.

As I said in my second post, we’re all human, and we all do stuff we later wish we hadn’t. And sometimes, we even have the courage to make it right. It couldn’t have been easy for whoever took our gate to return it, but they did so anyway. By doing so, not only did they make my day, they made a lot of other peoples’ day, and they redeemed themselves as well. Gosh I love happy endings. Happy Sunday everyone!

Rain Again

Oh the rain we had yesterday! Our little workhorse of a creek swelled up enormously as she digested her floodwater meal, gulping down every bit of it with her usual aplomb.

My neighbour up on the hill to the NW of us checked in at one point, reporting waterfalls gushing down from the heights above, down to form a “new” pond at the bottom of their place and then across the road and into the valley bottom along which our little Goward Spring Creek runs.

We were watching our creek carefully, as is prudent for those of us who live beside any waterway in stormy weather. As her crest passed around five pm, we still enjoyed a clear foot of space below our permanent bridges, phew! Again I quietly thanked those who put our house where they did, mere inches from the water’s edge and yet safe and dry for many years now.

Fingers crossed our luck holds. Last January we had 262 mm, the highest monthly total in more than ten years but still well off the hundred year high of 358 mm set in January 1953. Our place was built in 1972, so who knows what will happen if another hundred year record breaker comes along. Hopefully we won’t find out!

Measuring the gap

Requiem for a Hawthorn Tree

Our big side-yard hawthorn (Crataegus Oxycantha), British expat and lovable invasive species, has finally succumbed. She had been visibly failing since October and probably long before. Her capitulation was precipitated by the heavy snow load Mother Nature delivered yesterday on the first day of winter.

Always a pleasant neighbour, Ms. Hawthorn graced our side yard for many years. She made herself useful, as both trees and the British tend to do. 

Each May saw her don her trademark white-tinged-with-pink floral dress for ten days or so, before flinging it off all at once as the weather warmed. We always enjoyed the resulting petal-storm, so much gentler than yesterday’s frigid blast. 

She was a steadfast summer helpmeet too, her hundreds of thousands of tiny shiny serrated leaves collaborating to shield us from the hot sun, as she dabbled her toes in the cool creek, rejuvinating her green frock. In this shady role Ms. Hawthorn silently chaperoned dear C’s graduation celebration, dear K’s wedding shower, and many teen parties and get-togethers over the years. 

Every September she produced bountiful shiny clusters of the reddest of red berries, edible, but not very palatable, admired by passers by and relied upon by our local wild bird population.

Her roots must have been imperceptibly loosening as the fall rains softened the bank she stood on because she began to tip over into the yard, managing a full forty five degrees from her traditional upright stance before we noticed that she was losing her grip and moved the hammock out of the way.

We decided to keep clear and let her come down on her own, for safety, worried that if we began sawing, the release of the strain she was under would snap us straight to kingdom come. I expected her to collapse within days of our discovery, but she doggedly hung on, long past Halloween, right through November and a series of heavy deluges, and indeed almost through December, until yesterday.

Presciently, I had taken a quick photo of her as I slogged by on my way back from the barnyard and the lunchtime feed. She was heavy with wet snow as was our whole valley. I had divested myself of my sopping snowy outerwear, poured myself a bowl of hot soup and settled down at my desk to read email when a text came in from Resident Gardener, “that hawthorn broke”. 

“Just now?” I asked. 

“The one we thought would come down soon” she continued, our conversation following the usual frustratingly disjointed cadence of my texting sessions.

“Ya heard it crack when I was outside just now” RG then observed.

By now I had made it to the bathroom window where I could indeed see that my dear Ms. Hawthorn was no longer peeking over the shop roof, and the adjoining trees’ branches still wobbling with the shock of it all.

 “Wow” I excitedly exclaimed to RG, having by then switched over to a voice call. “I just took a picture of her! Should have stood there and waited I guess.”

I ran downstairs and outside, slid into my boots and made my way carefully down the slushy path past the shop until I could see her in all her recumbent glory. I took another quick shot or two, then retreated back into the house and my warm office.

The end of a lovely tree, another casualty of 2020. RIP Ms. Hawthorne. I take solace from the fact that we can look forward to your many inevitable heirs sprouting in your place. May they grow as tall and as buxom and as indefatigably as you grew, until 2020’s latest weather bomb got the best of you.

Stomping in Puddles

As a havoc-filled 2020 continues to unfold in all its dismal glory, I am, like everyone else I suppose, doing my best to keep calm and carry on. Pandemic and lockdowns, a crazy president refusing to admit he lost, climate change breathing down our necks, ridiculous conspiracy theories deluding millions. 2020 will surely be a year for the history books, and we’ll all be able to say “yep, I was there…” and have a story or two to tell, hopefully stories where everything turns out ok.

I find that keeping busy helps, and so I do, falling asleep each night planning projects and spending my weekends accomplishing them. There’s work too, to fill my days, and chores, and once or twice a week there’s errands off the farm. It’s thankfully easy to keep busy around our muddy valley.

Yesterday after some deep coop cleaning in the barnyard, I finished tucking in the garlic bed for winter with a thick blanket of leaves; going forward I will focus on raking leaves for chicken pens. I wish the leaves would dry up a bit, the birds enjoy scratching through dry, crackly leaves so much more than damp ones. But it is November after all, so I’m not holding my breath.

November as usual has been cold, and wet, and dark, and yet I love it so much. One of my favourite months, November provides plentiful opportunities for savouring the chill alongside warmth’s sweet contrast; for labouring in the crisp air until I must peel off first one layer and then another to cool myself; for long quiet evenings in front of a crackling fire, listening to the rain tapping on the skylight. One dusky, slightly surreal day last week, heavy clouds dimmed the light so dramatically from sunrise right through to sunset that it felt like a day long eclipse. There’s just so much potential for cozy in November.

November was my mother’s least favourite month. A prairie girl born and bred, she much preferred the sunny winters of her youth. Our rain forest weather was hard on her at times, although she loved living on the coast. Mom’s been gone for many Novembers now, nine to be exact, but of course I think of her often. Like the other day, as I was traversing the soggy, slippery northeast field dragging my empty wheelbarrow pony-cart style, having just spread another load of leaves on the garlic beds. 

There was this perfect little puddle, you see. Not a run-of-the-mill mud puddle, rimed with muck and no bottom visible, this was one of those short lived mudless puddles that briefly appear in low spots after a heavy rain. A crystal clear miniature watery valley, a freshwater tidal pool, each blade of grass and bit of colourful leaf litter suspended as if in glass; silent, peaceful, still. It looked to be just perfect for stomping in, so I gave in to my childish impulse. Dropping the wheelbarrow handles, I went all in, swishing the water over the toes of my boots, rinsing a layer of mud away and stirring up the depths into a most satisfactory squishy, muddy stew. Take that, 2020! And then my inner voice spoke up, “For goodness’ sake you silly old woman, you’re almost 59! What are you doing?” 

Stomping in puddles is what I was doing, like a little kid. What an idiot I am at times. As shamefulness began to creep over me on its sharp little claws, a stray thought came too, a gift from my mom that made everything ok again. The memory of her advice, given in the toast she made at my 21st birthday party, “Value your inner child, don’t ever grow all the way up. Hold on to her magic because you will need her sometimes.” Yes mama, I will. I do. Love you. Thank you.