Wednesday, May 15, 2013

It's a Mom's Life....

So....blame in on the weather....that's my mantra for this spring 2013 thus far.  I'll take responsibility when its mine, but I also believe in God and acts thereof.

This particular act of God made this particular Mother's Day and the week previous the unofficial first gardening week of this year.  Long hours for macro gardeners (farmers and their vocation) and micro gardeners (those whose love of land is an avocation).  All my energy was directed to our vocation, leaving little time to express any creativity toward another vital vocation, that of motherhood.

But now it is the week after Mother's day and lovers of family and flowers have had their May day. Words may fail when moms are concerned; danger, danger lurks in the sand traps of sentimentality and the hazards of self congratulation.  Taking a slice of real life in the form of photos tells the tale of the vocation and avocation of motherhood.....

Give hugs....
Tell stories
Draw pictures
Give more hugs
Take pictures

Dress up
Take trips
Play toys
Go shopping
Play patty cake
Give more hugs....
Play in the water

Play 'So Big!'
Go swimming
Play catch

Make a gingerbread house..
Go to a show

Give more hugs

Give a bath
Take a ride
Share a snack
Take a stroll
Wipe noses
Give more hugs
Potty train
Give mooches

Thursday, May 2, 2013


This is how I remember it.

Late April, 2007.  The most nerve wracking week of our greenhouse year is upon us.  One day, loading 1000 baskets and 3500 flats, then another 10,000 dollars of perennials and flats on a total of 5 trucks and our two pickups and trailers.  The next day we'd be leaving at 4 in the morning to meet our customer in a postage stamp sized parking lot south of downtown Kansas City.  The year 2007 has its own peculiar twist:  Lee, usually the accountant and ramrod of the loading, is instead restricted to the telephone and the Lazyboy in the office.  She is pregnant with twins, due in May, and only allowed to work at all if she is on her butt;  I am certain any physician but our local doctor, sensitive to her mental well being, not just her physical condition, would have her on bedrest.  We know she is miserable in her waiting, but these babies are so close....

Instead, the lady counting the flats and keeping everyone in line is Ann.  Ann, pregnant as well...expecting new daughter Lizzie, imminently, as in next week. She is stepping in to help, even though she cannot bend at the waist, because she has no waist!  Perhaps this day makes the waiting go faster, but with Aaron at home already, I know this day is her gift to all of us: her sister, her mom and dad and this day of necessity.

It is a warm sticky day.  Or is it a wet muddy day?  This is the problem.  I don't have the pictures to trigger my memory.  I am picking out baskets, carrying out baskets, 4 at a time, 10 to a cart.  I am worried, concerned, on edge on all levels from the most superficial to the core of my being. But this is not recorded...I can summon all these feelings like it was yesterday, not six years past.  But I can see only vignettes in my mind.

May 3, for instance.  My refrigerator, a hand me down from Blake's grandma, has quit cooling.  Each day, I throw something away that I figure has spoiled. Each night of the past week, we stop by Casey's for a quart of milk for our breakfast the next won't be cold by then, but it won't be ruined.  May 3 Blake gets a chance to stop by Lowe's on his way home from a plant delivery.  Matt and Ann spend the evening before the birth of their baby girl in our kitchen, wrestling the old fridge out to the pickup and lugging the new one into place.  Our kitchen is muggy and close; the hum of the new fridge is like the arctic blast of a Coors commercial.  We wish them Godspeed and assure them we will hurry down to Fairfax to meet Lizzie as soon as they call in the morning; business waits on babies....

Elizabeth Carol is born May 4; Blake and I stop by home so I can paint her banner and hang it from the porch for all to see.  She is beautiful from birth, pink, sweet and unmistakably girly.  Her big brother is proud and gentle with her.

And rains. Again, I know how it felt that day:  inches of rain carousing down the driveway, rushing through the greenhouses, running down the side into the greenhouses and floating the flowers.  Mother's Day! The biggest sales weekend of the year is...washed out.  The creeks rise:  Deadman's Hollow rises underneath the bridge to the farm; flood warnings abound.

Lee sneaks away to visit Miss Lizzie at home.  There are a couple of pictures from the brief interval that Lee is still expecting and Lizzie is here.  Family legend has it that Lizzie is whispering to her little cousins: Come out!  I'm here waiting!

Sunday night Lee and Ryan listen to the weather warnings and decide the risk of being stranded at the farm is too great. Giant storms roll through; they pack an overnight bag and try to rest in our spare bedroom in town.

Monday morning, we are all awake early despite the ongoing rain:  it is time to go to the hospital.  But Highway 59 is shut. In my memory, Ryan is silent and Lee is unreasonably calm.  Can this be?  Blake and I slosh our way to the sodden greenhouses; the weather keeps business down but we have had no difficulty using new grand babies as reasons to stay home....

And new babies arrive!  Lizzie's pink banner gets three days top billing before the lime green full sheet declares the birth of John Gabriel and Abigail Louise.  The passing years cannot dim the thrill and thanksgiving I feel each time I relive those days and realize our amazing blessing and good fortune in the midst of the chaos around.  We wend our way through the country on state paved roads and gravel until we find an open route over the Tarkio River. Soggy but ecstatic, we get to meet Gabe and Abbie

. Later that evening, after work, Annie and Lizzie accompany us back to the hospital.  This time it takes us a full hour to travel between Tarkio and Fairfax.  The good folks at the hospital say not a word about our late arrival and let us come in.

Even though in the record books the May 2007 floods will not go down as the worst flooding ever experienced in the Midwest, in many locations May 2007 flooding was in the top three events of all time. More significantly, two cities experienced the all-time record flood levels at their locations. The Tarkio River near the city of Fairfax, MO experienced a record high river crest of 25.78 ft recorded Monday, May 7th.

Another spring: another weather outrage.  As I write, the wind rattles the windows and the rain threatens to become an unseasonably late snow.  The greenhouses, full of beautiful plants, languish as we scuttle like tumbleweeds from shelter to shelter.  Nonetheless, I look back six years and recollect the ephemeral nature of wind, rain, heat, flood and freeze. When the calendar page turns to May, my memory turns to birthdays and the grand scheme of things that wraps ineffable gifts in trials and troubles.