It’s a rare day that I wake with an energy level of zero, but this past Sunday was one of them. I had no aspirations for the day at all beyond coffee and watching cable all day, and for the first couple of hours that’s what I did. But eventually, motherhood called.
Sometimes as a parent it’s good to have a day in which I am not trying to accomplish a single thing for myself. The rewards of spending an unstructured day with my daughter – at kid speed – are unpredictably delightful. She drew me a rooster, a pig and a horse, of which the rooster was my favorite.
She threw herself across my lap and demanded a backrub. She wanted macaroni and cheese for breakfast. I always make my own from scratch, so that took a little more effort than I really wanted to put into it, but she ate a whole bowl full, plus I had plenty left over to go with pork chops for dinner. I had some myself with a bowl of wilted greens from the garden, and it occurred to me that Swiss chard might be a pretty good spinach-extender. If you remove the stalks, cooked, it has the same color and texture as spinach, and a very neutral flavor. I bet mixed half in half with spinach, a few picky eaters I know would never know the difference.
Then it occurred to me that I might be able to keep spinach growing all year round in my vestibule, which stays cool, but gets plenty of light. I think spinach could be grown in a shallow container ... something to think about. I might dig up a plant this week and give that a try. While standing in the kitchen pondering this, I noticed that our cilantro has developed its first true leaf.
Then my daughter asked me if school was “in session today” – no – and requested that I take her to the playground. I really wanted to stay parked on the couch, but I could not in good conscience tell her no. So I packed up a few juice boxes and off we went. It turns out she was feeling pretty low energy too, so we enjoyed the swings, and the beautiful weather, went up and down the slides a few times, and finally settled into a walk around the school, the town pavilion, and several playgrounds. We talked. We remembered things. I watched a tiny pink spider spin its way all the way to the ground on an invisible strand. I learned that a squirrel can fit through one of the diamond-shaped openings in a chain-link fence. Eventually we paused for maybe half an hour while she played on the ground. She asked me to play with her. Pulling my fingers through the cool pebbles and making trails in the soft dirt was like working in a Zen garden.
We left the playground after almost two hours with no arguments and no crying – always a bonus. And when we got home I found something else to be relaxed and thankful about, that my daughter is old enough to go out in the back yard and play by herself and with the dogs – no Mom required. I considered spending those extra quiet minutes ordering the apple trees we have decided to put in this fall. But shopping, even online, requires a scattering of energy that is completely opposed to the quiet, contemplative mood of the day, so I didn’t do it. But I did remember that I have 14 quarts of homemade applesauce in the kitchen, and that applesauce would go wonderfully with the pork chops I was simmering for dinner.
Most remarkable about the day was that the ladybugs were out in full force. I had no idea that there was a time of year in which the ladybug population exploded. I was reading about this the other day on Paul Gardener’s Grit blog (Growing Possibilities/“Pest Control Handled by Nature”), and it stuck in my head since we have developed an aphid problem with some pepper plants that we were hoping to keep indoors over the winter. My husband suggested a week or so ago, as a solution, that we purchase a few dozen ladybugs to let loose in the room where the plants are to solve the aphid problem.
Um ... you want to turn ladybugs loose into the house that I practically kill myself to keep clean? You want me to clean up after four dogs, a little kid, your fine self, and now dozens of ladybugs?
But then a few days ago one landed on his neck while sitting in the living room, having apparently found its way in from outside. So he scooped it up and took it in to the plants. And I figured what the heck. It was inside anyway.
At the playground they were landing on my daughter and I every couple of minutes. I told my husband when we got home, and he said, “Did you catch them and bring them home?”
Um ... No again. That would feel too much like work.
But later that evening we were watching Nick Jr. and there was an episode of a children’s program on about a ladybug festival. Seriously. And then an actual ladybug landed on the television screen. No kidding. So I caught him and put him in on the pepper plants too. So now we have two. And the sky has not fallen, and the house is no more or less clean that it ever is.
And now I know that in November, Maryland apparently has Ladybug Days. How is it possible that I could not have known this before?
I need to take a day off more often.