On Recording Sheep and Stratford

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I’ve been falling so far behind with writing posts about our trip that every time I sit down to write more I’m overwhelmed by the backlog! These photos are from our time in the Midlands near Birmingham, where we visited some dear family friends. The Airbnb we stayed in was on a small farm and they had a lovely little flock of sheep. Kevin was playing with his new field recording toy, and so we spent some hilarious time out in the fields trying to get a good recording of the sheep bleating and munching on grass.

While in the Midlands we journeyed to Stratford Upon Avon, which is just as lovely as I imagined. I was slightly trepidatious about going because Stratford is rather touristy, but I found that I forgot about that in about a second. There were huge bevies of swans gliding along the river, swarming near the banks to snag a bite of bread. The water was shining and the swans were so serene and unperturbed by the tourists on the bank. While in Stratford we visited Shakespeare’s birthplace, which was another touristy place that nevertheless felt exciting and special. There were actors who performed scenes from plays out in the garden, kind of like a Shakespearean jukebox. Visitors would request certain scenes or plays and the actors would be ready to oblige. We had a chance to chat with them about performing, and asked them to perform their favorite scenes. We also visited the church in Stratford where Shakespeare is buried, which was also the church Shakespeare attended when he was alive. Kevin and I sat in the pews for a while just soaking in the feeling of being in the church while they set up for a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that evening. I was so glad we had a chance to walk about in the places Shakespeare walked and to spend time in such a beautiful place.

The last pictures in this post are from Hanbury Church, which was Kevin’s favorite place we visited in the Midlands. The church was closed for the day, so we sadly weren’t able to go inside, but it was breathtaking to stand up on the hilltop and look out over the countryside. In the distance someone was burning brush and we could see the smoke curling upwards from miles away. Kevin and I wondered what it would have been like to live in England four hundred or five hundred years ago when the view from that hill would have looked much the same, if not a bit less developed. The clouds that day were soaring overhead and the churchyard was filled with gently swaying daisies. I loved every minute we spent there.

I’ll try to post a bit sooner with the last portion of England pictures! I’m absolutely dying to get up my Lammas post, so I’ll try for some prompt writing this time. Sending daisies and late summer harvest wishes to all.

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On Travels And Organization

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I drove over to my favorite Harrison’s Yellow rose the day we left, and took a few petals in a little silk pouch on our trip to remind me of home.

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Canterbury Cathedral

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My mom standing by the loo in the “most haunted building in Canterbury.” We loved how short the doorways were.

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I’ve been trying to figure out a way to condense my recent trip to Europe and the U.K. into something vaguely resembling coherent blog posts. It’s difficult to figure out how to pare down an experience into something small and readable, so of course I’ve been avoiding working on it in hopes of a bolt of organizational inspiration! I’ve decided to break it up into smaller more chronological posts just for ease and so nothing is too overwhelming. Hopefully this way it will be easy to read and won’t be too arduous.

The first leg of our trip Kevin and I traveled to Alkmaar / Bergen in The Netherlands for my friend Cassidy’s wedding. We stayed in Bergen, and enjoyed several days seeing old friends and attending the wedding ceremony. It was so lovely to be there to see my friend get married! After the wedding we met up with my friend Chloe in Amsterdam, and enjoyed a day wandering around the city, sipping mint tea, “ooh-ing” and “ah-ing” at the old houses, and sampling cheese. There was something so comfortable about the city, and both Kevin and I were completely enamored. We can’t wait to go back, and are hoping to visit the Anne Frank museum on our next trip.

From Amsterdam, we spent several days in London, which was an absolute whirlwind! We ate Indian food, visited the Museum of Portable Sound, wandered around Bloomsbury, got lost in the London Review Bookshop (there were many temptations), saw some bizarre installations at the Tate Modern, and took a day trip to Canterbury Cathedral. The cathedral was beautiful, yet was filled with the eerie reminder of Thomas Becket’s murder in 1170. The murder spot is marked with a slightly macabre cross made of swords, meant to represent the swords of the knights who slew Thomas. There was also a singular candle left burning at the place where Thomas’s alter used to stand before it was destroyed in the reformation. I was so glad to finally visit Canterbury, especially since I loved reading the Canterbury Tales in college. It was so fun to reach the site of Chaucer’s fictional pilgrimage (even if the pilgrims in the tales never made it themselves!)

Perhaps one of the most enjoyable parts of our whole trip was seeing a production of “As You Like It” at the Globe in London. I had been to a play at the Globe when I was studying abroad, and it was just as magical this time. We saw a matinee, so the stage was lit with natural light, and the actors performed without amplification, so it’s just as it would have been in Shakespeare’s time. Highlights include: actors dressed as sheep, false identities, amazing costumes, lots of singing, and a group dance at the end. It was a fantastic show, and we all left with huge smiles on our faces – and an ice cream cone for me! I wish I could snap my fingers and be there again.

The last pictures in this post are from the village of Stowe-on-the-Wold, home to St. Edwards Church, which we visited on our way from London up to the Midlands. Supposedly, the door flanked with yew trees inspired J.R.R. Tolkein in his description of the Doors of Durin. The church was cool and quiet, and we wandered around the churchyard, admiring the daisies that were growing among the graves. It was a helpful moment to slow down after all the activity at the beginning of our trip, and I was so glad we had a chance to visit this lovely place.

There are so many more things I have to share from this trip, and so many ideas and thoughts I’ve had about travel and folklore and writing all wrapped up together. I’m trying to catch up a bit since we have holidays looming on the horizon (Lammas is only a couple weeks away!) I hope you’re all enjoying these long, sunny days, and are finding ways to stay cool.

Sending summer cherries and sunshine!

Elk Songs

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This post has been a long time coming — please excuse its tardiness. Life is so full and messy and wonderful and busy that sometimes I forget to take a step back to reflect and work in this space. So here’s a post about our trip at the end of September.

In the autumn, the elk sing at night. We went up north to hear them this year, and I’m always filled with wonder to hear them calling to each other, their song echoing off the mountains. For me, elk song is a symbol of the turning of the year, a reminder that the nights are growing colder and longer, but are still filled with so much magic. The moon and stars seem brighter too as the nights grow longer. My cousin and I found Cassiopeia, Hercules, the Pleiades, Taurus, and the dippers one night while stargazing. At the end of the road to the west we could hear elk by the river, and coyotes howling and barking to the south.

While we were in Jackson, my grandpa passed away. It felt peaceful to know we were in the valley he loved so much, surrounded by the mountains and sagebrush. That afternoon, two buffalo wandered down the road and stood behind the cabin watching us. The herd was up in Yellowstone still, so these two travelers were the only bison we saw in the valley – magically appearing that chilly afternoon.

After seeing them, I read about how buffalo represent abundance and prayer. Buffalo’s lesson is also that of arriving at a goal or destination at the time that is best for you. Buffalo never hurries or cuts corners, but takes the time to complete the entire journey from start to finish.

I thought about how my grandpa’s life journey led him to this beautiful place, and how the roots he created here allowed my family to share a part of this land. I will always be grateful for his love of this beautiful valley. Standing on the deck of the cabin and looking out at the two buffalo in the grass, I felt they had stopped here to rest, just for a little while, on their journey north.

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Up in the North Country: Pt. 3

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Here’s the last smattering of pictures from our trip. It was joyful, restful, and filled to the brim with amazing wildlife. Aside from the previously depicted chiselers, grizzly bear, buffalo, elk, moose, bluebirds, goldfinch, and antelope, we were fortunate enough to see a Western Tanager on our hike up by String Lake. My mom always says they look like a roll of lifesavers, a bright and cheerful bird among the soft colors of this landscape. We also saw a hawk hovering in our backyard one morning, no doubt hunting. I was lucky enough to catch him in a moment of poised searching before he swooped away.

Last but certainly not least, Kevin and I were lucky enough to see a red fox on our last evening in the valley. We were just returning from a pre-dinner drive when we stumbled across the fox dipping in and out of the sage near the road. A nice family pointed her out to us, and as she hopped in and out of the brush she looked almost like a dolphin cresting waves in the sea. Foxes are my favorite animal, my “spirit animal” if you will, so of course this last special offering from the valley seemed extra meaningful as we prepared to leave the next day.

Homecomings are always a swirl of various emotions. I’m always sad to leave, but there’s something comforting and calming about returning to a daily rhythm. When we go away to travel, we gather new experiences and perspectives and bring them home with us. I feel so lucky I gathered these lovely memories to bring home with me!

Up in the North Country: Pt. 2

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When we return to nature, we come closer to a part of ourselves often forgotten in the hubbub of daily life. The stillness of a mountain lake at midday, the whir and warble of birds, the slow deliberate grazing of moose or elk, remind us of the need to slow down and exhale. There’s no posting or updating or checking “just to make sure” on the trail – there’s only sky and pine and dust. I think I needed this reminder. How magical to see a moose so close up by Jenny Lake, and how amazing to see an elk in velvet antlers.

At night, we looked at constellations in the sky: Orion, Cassiopeia, Taurus, the dippers, the milky way. The air was clear and cold, and I snuggled down under layers to look up at the frozen stars. Later, we had peppermint tea to warm us up. How special it feels for us city folk to see the stars, and how bittersweet too.

 

This Lovely Month of May (and embracing minimalism)

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1. Some pretty yellow flowers at the Denver Botanic Gardens. DSCN1731
2. Tulips blooming in lovely rifts at the DBG.DSCN1714.JPG
3. Welsh Onions at DBG! (I didn’t realize these existed…)DSCN1712
4. My friend Timmy (and Kevin too of course <3) looking at the flora.unnamed
5. Timmy and Jake (left to right) out for a night on the town with Kevin and I!DSCN1768
6. A surprise late April / early May snowstorm! The tulips got a shock.DSCN1783.JPG
7. A sweet house finch in the snow.DSCN1822
8. Red-winged Blackbird.DSCN1816.JPG
9. A “teenage” Red-wing.DSCN1870
10. Part of a huge flock of Barn Swallows – at least as far as my identification knowledge goes! DSCN1919
11. One of Kevin’s squirrel friends!DSCN1929
12. An orange poppy and a little visitor to the right.DSCN1930
13. One of many seeded dandelions waiting for wishes.DSCN1960
14. Our local goslings with mama.DSCN1942
15. Pelicans at Grasmere Lake.DSCN1965
16. A pelican with a black cap on his head. I can’t seem to find anything about this type of marking online, perhaps a more immature bird?DSCN1944
17. taking the dive for some fish!DSCN1975
18. A duckling swims against the tide in the “City Ditch” at the park.DSCN1982
19. A shy snowy egret from across the lake. DSCN1999
20. My lovely mom enjoying her mother’s day breakfast.DSCN2016
21. Anemone and ranunculus! What could be better?DSCN2002
22. A little pollinator visits the garden!DSCN2003
23. My dad and I built my mom an herb garden for Mother’s Day using cross-sections from old aspen timber we had removed from our yard a few years back. We decided on a whimsical curvy wall to add some fun to the space.DSCN2017
24. Last but certainly not least – the Harrison’s Yellow is beginning to bloom!

What a busy vibrant few weeks it’s been! I feel like each day is packed to bursting with fun and things to do. I decided to caption all the pictures in this post, since there are so many! Hopefully it’s a helpful way to glance through my last few weeks.

Earlier this month, some dear friends from college (Timmy and Jake pictured above) visited us, and it was so lovely to show them around the city, cook dinners, and go for late night pizza! They are such wonderful friends, and I feel so lucky we’ve stayed connected after graduation.

At the park, the local wildlife is thriving! The pelicans continue to astound me. As they fish, they swim in graceful formation to dip under the lake for a bite to eat. We’ve also seen quite a few Red-winged Blackbirds around the lake, singing their warbly song and flashing their scarlet wings. Of course, the baby ducks and geese are too cute, and I’ve been playing the delicate game of getting close enough for a picture without alarming their mamas too much.

Last weekend we planted herbs in the garden (chives, basil, sage, and rosemary) and created a new garden space and border wall. I was reminded yet again how satisfying and good it feels to work outside – especially when making such tangible progress. I also sprinkled some “flower fairy” seeds around, and am hoping to see some emerging shoots in a few days. We are planning on planting tomatoes, bush beans, (hopefully) tomatillo peppers, and carrots in that plot as well. We still miss the grand old apple tree that used to stand there, but I must say all this new space for extra flowers and veggies is a lovely silver-lining.

As for minimalism – I feel a bit chagrined mentioning the concept after such a maximal post! I should have only included a simple picture of a blossom instead of an excess of such colorful images (just kidding). Minimalism doesn’t mean having no pictures in a blog post – what I’m talking about is the impulse to live more simply. I watched this documentary about minimalism and combined with reading this absolutely lovely blog I’ve started work on the ongoing project of living a more simple life. I started to wonder why I had so many things I don’t love and don’t use (this harkens to Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which I haven’t read but am interested in investigating further). Three big bags of clothes, a bag of books, and another of jewelry + knick knacks later, and I feel like I’ve barely made a dent. Let’s just say there’s always more tidying one can do! After watching Minimalism I will say I had reservations about how sparse and unfriendly many of the minimal spaces appeared. This is where Homesong fits in so well, as she discusses the benefits of having a minimal space but never at the expense of that space being cozy and welcoming. This is something I can wholeheartedly get behind. I’ve pretty much completely organized and tidied my room and now I’m on to the more daunting project – the basement. I think I’ll have to have Kevin on hand for spider wrangling. Yikes!

We are preparing for another spring snowfall this weekend and my heart contracts when I think of our poor little cherry buds. Take time to smell some of the roses before the snow comes!

xx T

Here’s the url for the Minimalism documentary again. I watched the film on Netflix.
https://minimalismfilm.com/
Read more about “the minimalists” here: http://www.theminimalists.com/
Also, here’s a more specific post from Homesong about their minimal lifestyle:
http://www.homesongblog.com/spring/homestead-tips-on-maintaining-simplicity-and-joy-at-home/

Compromise

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A little green shamrock plant for St. Patrick’s Day.

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Pardon the blurriness – but I thought I should include this photo anyway.

This week I’ve been meditating upon compromise. Originally, I’d planned a big celebration for St. Patrick’s day (Irish beer, soda bread, fairy stories, and our very own Clootie Tree in the garden) but for reasons out of my control almost none of those things came to fruition. Kevin didn’t get the night off work and it seemed there wasn’t much energy to continue the celebrations, especially since Kevin and I had planned most of the merrymaking. So I had to compromise, accepting the change in pace and letting go of the evening I’d envisioned. Of course I was disappointed, but sometimes compromise is okay.

The pictures above are from Kevin’s birthday! We went to the botanic gardens and marveled at an apricot tree, which was blossoming and smelled heavenly. We also had fun walking up and down in the Orangery – there were ripening Meyer lemons (pictured above) as well as grapefruit and blood oranges. For dinner, we ate salmon, grilled asparagus, and leeks in anchovy butter from this recipe. To top it all off we enjoyed hot chocolate cake and a rollicking game of cards after dinner.

Now that we have entered Spring (or at least almost – tomorrow is the equinox!) I’ve noticed how much lighter the evenings are, and how many more flowers are blooming in the garden. We have one little red tulip starting in the garden (I’ll try and get a snap for my next post) and the trees are becoming greener. Additionally, I’ve been trying to incorporate springtime foods that nourish the body into my diet, and therefore have been experimenting with leeks! As I mentioned above we made a gorgeous leek with anchovy butter dish last week, but my mom and I also made a wonderful leek soup. We used this recipe from the New York Times cooking website. It was delicious!

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Once the leeks are cooked, they are blended with raw spinach making this soup bright green!

I hope everyone is out and about enjoying the springtime. Here’s a little picture of St. Patrick from the Nuremburg Chronicle.

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Image sourced from Wikimedia.