Wednesday, January 20, 2010

One year since our arrival

I'm so sorry to have been away from this blog for so long, but my absence is an accurate reflection of our lives toward the end of 2009: too busy to fit in everything we wanted to do. As those of you with small children know all too well, it was just one illness/school vacation/Rob work trip/pick-your-mundane-disruption after another.

But there was plenty of wonder and beauty and joy in all that busyness as well. For example: we got really involved with an amazing group of folks who are starting a cohousing project; I started teaching childbirth education classes in the community; the Baby's First Year support group I started in September developed into a lovely and tight-knit little bunch of regular attendees; Willa went apple-picking with school and we pressed cider for the first time on an antique cider press; our winter CSA of root vegetables and squashes and things began, from our friends Maia and Jacob at After the Fall farm; we trick-or-treated around Belfast; we hosted a locavore Thanksgiving; we celebrated Chanukah as darkness fell around us; I read poetry in Belfast's New Year's By the Bay; I finished my first ever knitting project, a scarf, and took a rug-hooking class; and on and on.

And Jem learned to crack himself up, sit up on his own, and just generally is continually getting cuter and sweeter and funnier all the time. He's a social kid with an easy laugh and an eagerness for fun. He and Willa think the world of each other. When he pulls her hair (and he pulls hard!) or bites her face (and he bites hard! his third tooth is coming in now!), she just laughs with pleasure.

Oh, and I was a participant in (as well as on the committee of) the Belfast Poetry Festival in October--that was incredible. I'll have to dedicate a post just to that.

And jeez, did I really never blog about the Common Ground Fair back in September?! I'm heartbroken about that. I'd love to go back and try to conjure it up, because it really is just about the greatest thing on earth, to my mind. I will save that for another post as well.

Before I go for now, though, two observations about life here in small town Maine: first, the connection to the seasons continues to amaze and nourish me. When the winter solstice hit, wow, was it dark. (Literally, but also metaphorically: it was the second anniversary of our son Day's burial.) Everyone feels the darkness in a deep way. The snow came with it, and basically has not left since. But everyone gets out and cross-country skis and snowshoes and watches the ice on the ponds and it's pretty magical. And even now, in January, people comment on how it's still light at 4:30 PM, and what a gift that is, and how we really only have a couple more months to go, and isn't the snow beautiful, and it just seems like such a healthy and reverent attitude towards the season. Secondly, our interconnectedness with the community continues to deepen. Rob and I were thrilled when we came back from our winter vacation, went to the Co-op, and not only did the woman at the deli counter know us by name, but the cashier knew our member number by heart. We've really arrived!

And with this feeling of true "arrival," we've also started to think, bittersweetly, about our departure this summer. People stop us all the time and ask, "When are you going back? Wait, you're going back? What do you mean?" Today someone said to me, "I heard you're moving to Chicago!" No, I explained for the millionth time: we live in Chicago; we always planned to be here for a year and a half. But it's amazing to feel like our presence is so felt and might actually be missed. You don't really feel that so much in a city of three million people.

One last note: last night I skimmed through Amanda Soule's The Creative Family, which I got for a holiday present (thanks, Margy!). Soule is a Maine mama and blogger, and though the book is sort of a coffee-table thing in some ways (lots of gorgeous styling and photos), I still did find it genuinely inspiring. The slowed-down, mindful, small-pleasure-filled life she strives for--and seems to achieve: her family does things like keep track of "gratitudes" at the dinner table, hang up kids' art and postcards and leaves and things on an "inspiration wire," and use the top of one bookshelf for a seasonally-changing altar of natural, found materials--is one that appeals to me immensely. Maybe in 2010 I'll get a bit closer to it. I do feel like in some ways, for all our hectic pace and Jem's arrival and our never-ending overthinking, I got a little closer to it in 2009. Baby steps.

And here are a few photos for you, too, because I can't resist posting photos of my kids. Many more to come.

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