Birdland

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No sooner did I threaten to cut down the plum tree than did about a million birds show up, acting so adorable and sweet and storybookish within its branches that I'm torn, now, about chopping it down. What to do!!! What also happened is that we instituted "mom time" out in the front yard in the very early mornings when Andy's off for the day so that I'm able to sit out there alone and drink my coffee, listen to birds, water the garden, and oh, you know, think quietly for just a few secs. I get up and, before I take my shower, I hightail it out and enjoy what has always been my favorite part of the day: earliest, earliest morning. Eventually I fill up the bird bath and sit in the chair in the shade across the yard and wait. Within five or ten minutes, birds come bathing. It's the cutest, sweetest thing. They — especially the robins — splash around in the water and then fly up to the bare branches of the plum tree to fluff and dry. It's just adorable. On Sunday morning, a super-adorable thing happened when I got to watch a mama robin feed a teenager robin — see the picture of them up there? They're hard to see, being totally camouflaged by the tree, but my gosh. How cute is that. I swear the robins are coming just to visit me when I go out there, especially when I'm alone. They do always seem to show up within a few minutes! My own little Mary Lennox moment, and I just love them.

I feel so very behind on everything. I can't get my chores done and I'm stressed, so birdwatching feels desperately necessary but also crazily indulgent somehow. Summer at home with a little kid is seriously chaotic. There are so many things that I want to write about and talk about and think about, but I just won't have time or brain or breath until preschool starts again and I have a few more unengaged hours. And there aren't enough kids home during the day in our neighborhood to make it easier. I mean, there are no kids at home during the day in our neighborhood. Back in My Day, everyone was home. Everyone. We played outside or at each other's houses on the block every. single. day. To the point of utter, complete, blissful boredom. Sigh. Sometimes I worry. Where is everyone?

Nevertheless, in spite of having a scant amount of free time/me time, I checked five of the books on last week's book list out of the library, even though I'm only halfway through Coming Home (by Rosamunde  Pilcher). The librarian said that the damage I did to the book wasn't even worth noting, so that was a nice surprise. I renewed it, because it's taking me forever to read. That book is enormous! But it's really nice to read. Sort of slow, with a mildly remote protagonist (which is, oddly, relaxing). But it also just feels measured and capable and . . . professional . . . I need not worry . . . and that alone is chillaxing me down to my toes. Also, her descriptions of place are so on-point I sometimes read them twice. I mean, this:

    August, now, and a wet Monday morning. Summer rain, soft and drenching, streamed down upon Nancherrow. Drifting in from the south-east, low grey clouds obscured the cliffs and the sea, and heavy-leaved trees drooped and dripped. Gutters ran and drain-pipes gurgled, and the weekly wash was postponed for a day. Nobody complained. After a long spell of hot, dry weather, the sweet coolth was welcome. The rain fell with relentless steadiness, and thirsty flowers and fruit and vegetables absorbed the moisture with gratitude, and the air was filled with the incomparable scent of newly damp earth.   
    Loveday, with Tiger at her heels, emerged into the outdoors by way of the scullery, stepped out into the yard, and stopped for a moment to sniff the air and fill her lungs with this sweet invigorating freshness. She wore gumboots and an old raincoat, pulled over her shorts and a striped cotton sweater, but her head was bare, and as she set off in the direction of Lidgey Farm, the rain descended upon her hair, causing the dark locks to curl more tightly than ever.
    She took the road that led towards the stables, but turned off before reaching them, following, instead, the rutted lane that led up onto the moors. Here the ancient lichened stone walls were divided from the lane by a deep ditch, now running with water, and gorse grew in prickly thickets aflame with yellow flowers smelling of almonds. There were foxgloves too, in profusion, and pale-pink mallow, and tangles of wild honeysuckle, all the way up the lane, and the dark granite of rock wore velvety patches of saffron-colored lichen. Beyond the wall were pasture fields, where Mr. Mudge's Guernsey milk cows grazed, the grass a brilliant green between the random whale-shaped crests of hidden boulders, and overhead gulls, flying inland with the weather, wheeled and screamed.

How pretty is that! By typing it out I'm attempting to conjure a rain spell, because we haven't had any in over fifty days and last week our temps were over a hundred degrees.

How are you guys? How's your summer? How's it all going out there, anyway?

 

***Mimi just found this picture floating around somewhere in our bookshelf (I have not seen this one in years!), and I realized I forgot to say thank you for all of your incredibly sweet anniversary wishes. Thank you very, very much. We really appreciate them! You are so kind. Thank you. XOXOXO

P.S.: I made my dress from a Style sewing pattern but I can't figure out what number it was. It was really fun to make and is one of my favorite memories from being engaged.

Wedding

75 comments

I think we have been getting all of your rain here in Ontario, Canada. It has been a very cool, rainy summer so far with only one day over 30 degrees (90 degrees fahrenheit). When we get rain, we get drenching downpours instead of sprinkle showers. Everything is so lush and green, but farmers are suffering because of wet fields, and all the gardens are delayed because it is too wet. This past weekend felt like a fall weekend, as it was much cooler, only in the low 20s. I'm watching a beautiful sunset out of my window as I write this. A sky filled with clouds that are all tinged with orange and pink and glowing from within. Happy summer, Alicia!

Love Mondays! Seems the day all my favorite bloggers post...thank you. It's been really hot here as well, but now...we have rain and cool temps. I feel for you, I am NOT a summer heat person. 100+ heat and I'm crying!!! Lovely pictures and enjoy that quiet time with your birds.

Reading those words makes want to download a Rosamunde Pilcher book on my Kindle right this minute. Her books are so wonderful. It's a delight reading them.

sue in seattle says: August 07, 2017 at 06:14 PM

I'm in seattle, so we've had the same string of hot, dry weather. I've followed you since just before A was born, I love to get your posts, just takes me back to a simpler time. Thank you for sharing! I am not able to stitch & knit right now, due to a herniated disc. (My arm and hand are numb) but I'm living vicariously through writers such as you! :-).

💙 The sweet coolth was welcome💙 - and - Clover Meadow resting her head on a Gingham Pillow 💙

What a great post. Love your dress! Thank you for sharing.

we had rain today, here. It's so odd how some places have too much rain and others much too little. if only things could be in proper proportions. what a beautiful picture of your wedding and the dress you made! how very lovely! I find it really sad that society has changed so much that kids are not around to play. Well, we do what we can, right? I think you would love Elizabeth Goudge and also the biography about her, esp the beginning that speaks of calm and quiet.

Hi from a mountain in WV! I've read your blog for years, long before I became a mama, too. Love what you share, and enjoy reading every post. We went to the library today and as I ventured over to the grown up section, I saw your book on the shelf!! So uplifting to know the love and care stitching up this world--souls like you are doing so much good. Enjoy the rest of summa!

Beritbunny says: August 07, 2017 at 08:12 PM

Loved the book excerpt--and very like our day here today! (if only I hadn't left one of the car's rear windows rather open...) I have that same thought every Halloween--"Where is Everybody?" :/ I wonder if we'd be friendly if we were neighbors--seems everyone just hates Other People these days. Ah, well; I'm going to look into that library book—the distant protagonist does indeed sound restful.

Dolores Tanner says: August 07, 2017 at 08:28 PM

It is such a joy to see this little girl grow up, such a cute little lady. Don't you just Love Rosemond Pilcher!!!???

I absolutely adore your wedding photo and dress. This is my favorite photo you've ever posted.
My aunt made my mother's wedding dress around 1950, and I remember seeing the pattern she used when I was growing up; but, alas, I think the pattern was eventually tossed out. In high-school I used my favorite Simplicity pattern to sew my sister's graduation formal. Several years ago, the same pattern was reissued as...Vintage. ^ ^
I also loved the robins and Mimi's graceful dance poses!

Your garden looks great! And I love your book list. All book lists, but we have a lot of overlap.

I too have a daughter with a name that begins with A-one who is now getting married in May of 2018!

She is a dancer/choreographer/graphic artist, and will be walking down the aisle to Elton John's "Tiny Dancer," played on acoustic guitar by her twin brother.

Seeing your Mimi on her toes, I immediately thought of that song,and had a verklempt kind of moment thinking how it seemed just a short time ago that my girl was wearing her tutus and ballet pink leotards, jete-ing across the kitchen floor, dancing to everything, learning French so she could immerse herself in the dance world...as they say, the days are long but the years are short. You are a lucky little family! Thanks for sharing with us.

Arrowhead Gramma says: August 07, 2017 at 09:41 PM

You absolute have to read Rosamunde Pilcher's Shell Seekers. I have read most of her books and it is still one of my very favorites.

Jan Richards says: August 07, 2017 at 10:37 PM

I love your blog! Our daughters are 42 and 44 years old. I would love to get to do a do-over and attempt to create the life you live.
I would relax more and chase around less hauling them to playdates, lessons, etc You and Andy help create a lovely life for Amelia in a
loving and calm home. Your garden is a peaceful and charming setting. Enjoy these times for they fly by so very quickly. We celebrate our 50th Anniversary at the end of this month and now the decades fly by too.

Coming Home is probably my most favourite book in the world, if I could only take one book with me if I was stranded on an island it would be this one! So glad you are enjoying reading it as much as I do!! You will love her other work too, but this really is her best book in my view. Do read the others too though! September is great as is Winter Solstice.

MELAINE C LEBOEUF says: August 08, 2017 at 02:31 AM

Hi, you definitely have a tree that hides robins! The colors are amazing, how much they match. I suppose it makes it a safe haven from preditors. Maybe give it some TLC, mulch around the bottom and tree spikes for food (in the fall). Your pictures are lovely. Here in Upstate NY it is sometimes hot and humid and then cool and breezy with a hint of fall. Lots of rain too. And your wedding picture: Lovely.

What a gorgeous wedding photo. And lovely pics of the river as well. I love that early morning time too, it has its own quiet magic. The book sounds subliming relaxing. I have much of the same summer frustrations here. not enough time! No work done! Going too quickly! We do have plenty of rain though, and I shall send you some forthwith. CJ xx

Coming Home is my "comfort reading." I noticed the same lack of kids in the summer when my kids were growing up (now 17 and 20). Most were in camp as parents went off to work. I think you have our usual Ottawa, Ontario weather. I (some are not) am enjoying a cooler and wetter summer.

Lynn Marie says: August 08, 2017 at 05:13 AM

LOVE the wedding photo! I totally agree with the no kids around. When I was little, it was day after day of running to and fro throughout the neighborhood to each others house until dark. Playing "kick the can" and collecting fireflies in glass jars. I feel that kids today are really missing out by I guess they don't know that they are--this is their norm.

Dawn Andrews says: August 08, 2017 at 05:42 AM

I LOVE it that you made your own wedding dress!

Beautiul girls:) And Andy is too:)

Hmmm, it seems that Robins are a completely different species in the US. Here in the UK they look like this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_robin

Also, while I'm here, I've been meaning to let you know about Lewis and Irene fabrics. Do you know them? Every time I see your CaliCozy quilts I think of them, especially the line called Flo's Wildflowers. But please don't tell everyone - I want to buy some more for myself before it's all sold out!

In the quest to "have it all", I think kids get the short end of the stick. We do the best we can, but, like you, I have noticed that parents are working and kids are absent in my neighborhood--all day long. What a shame! It's a privilege and luxury now to be able to stay home with your kids and rare. I will look for that book as it sounds wonderful. I, too, rise early and spend a little time in the yard we have created with much toil and love. The birds are amazing--we have a Northern Goshawk family that have chased most of the song birds away this summer but it's been pretty cool to see these large raptors in our birdbaths. Cool and rainy here in Colorado but I love it this way. My heart is in the Pacific Northwest and someday soon, we will move there. Love reading your blog and thank you for taking the time to write so often. You and Andy have created a beautiful life for that precious daughter of yours. Pat yourselves on the back and celebrate as life moves fast.

The writing in that passage you quoted reminds me of your own writing. Just lovely. :)

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About Alicia Paulson

About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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Photography

Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.