Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Siblings Unrivaled and Family Bonds

by Zinta Aistars


I always look forward to my sister's visits, especially when she comes out for a long weekend to Z Acres, and we can enjoy both time in the country and time exploring nearby places and events of interest. This time, however, my sister came out primarily to spend some time with our parents. It was more of an impulse, so I didn't have time to plan work around the weekend. Still, I couldn't let a chance to see her get by.

Days before the weekend, I worked especially hard to get assignments written and submitted ahead of time. I stayed up late, I got up early, nose to grindstone, fingers to keyboard, getting it done. Saturday morning, I was up at 7 a.m., downed my hot coffee, and got my last article out ahead of deadline, and the rest of the weekend had been freed.

Well, not quite. The grass needed mowing, and with a week of rain behind me and a week of rain ahead, I couldn't let the hours by without putting some sweat into it. Four acres to mow is no easy feat, but in some ways, I looked forward to it. With all that brain work of writing and editing various articles, it felt good to set brain on shelf and put muscle to it instead. It would take me nearly three hours, so off I went, mower puttering, weaving around the house, the various gardens and flower beds, the pond, up and around the barn, up the hillock at the top of the field, until it was done.

I was earning my hours off! Late on Saturday afternoon, my sister showed up, and my folks, too, and we all enjoyed a wonderful evening together. I even found a chuck roast in the refrigerator that I'd picked up the last weekend at the farmers market, perfect for an impromptu dinner. A bottle of wine to uncork, a fresh salad, berries on ice cream, and the dinner was perfect. Guinnez trotted around us in absolute delight, begging for scraps and roast bones and getting them.

On Sunday, the family returned for a Z Acres hearty breakfast: scrambled eggs with oyster mushrooms and green onions on corn tortillas smeared with cream cheese mixed with salsa. Oh, yeah. Tummies full, my sister and I headed north to Grand Rapids to check out opening day of Fulton Street Artisans Market while the folks stayed at Z Acres to enjoy a bit of nature. Mom went out to the garden to enjoy her favorite activity, gardening, and Dad sat on the deck watching and sketching. Guinnez kept an eye on both.

My father on deck
Well, OF COURSE my sister and I had to buy SOMEthing at the artisans market. We were both drawn to the table overseen by a man who works with wood. Daina bought a wooden box to hold kitchen utensils for her husband on Father's Day (he loves wooden containers and he loves to cook), and we both bought small wooden cheese cutting boards. I don't buy frivolous, but I do buy useful, local, beautiful, lasting, and this item qualified. Since I buy only organic block cheeses, this was immediately put to use ... and I wondered how I'd gotten buy without it all these years.

Daina making her purchase
My new cheese cutting board
My sister and I enjoyed a lunch at an Indian restaurant, then headed back to Z Acres to see what our elders were up to. Mama was still on her knees, weeding my huge flower bed ... bless her heart and her hands. She loves getting those hands into the dirt, and I think it's her best therapy and spiritual rejuvenation. I wasn't going to interrupt her ... with all this land under my care and a vegetable garden almost triple last summer's size, I have to pick my battles, and weeding flower beds falls far down on the list of battles. Thanks, Mama!

We pick wildflowers for Mama
So I'm thinking ... watching all of them. Mama elbow deep in flower bed dirt, my sister wandering the back field picking wildflowers, my father moving slowly about with his cane until he and Guinnez find the best spot to sit and enjoy ... this is family. We all have our own, but this was the nuclear family, and the older I get, the more I appreciate all of them and all our visits.

I've spent a lifetime wandering, traveling, looking for the Home that would hold me, looking for adventure, feeding my curiosity, but the wish to wander has almost entirely left me. Sure, I'd still go on certain journeys ... there is still so much I have not seen and experienced in the world, and I'm certainly still open to adventure ... but my oasis is real now. And I love sharing it with my beloveds.

Home, after all, is ever so much about the people with whom you share it, who bring their personal light into it and mix it with yours. We brush off each other's magic dust on each other, and keep it as part of our own. I enjoy, even crave, and need, my solitude here, but I also relish the visits of the people (and often also their pets) who mean so much to me.

Joy is a simple thing. It's brushed with dirt, cheese crumbs, pencil dust, dog fur, rolled in grass clippings and dusted with hugs.

Daina watching the frogs and turtles in the Z Acres pond

Daina shares photos with Dad while wearing the t-shirt she bought for both of us
Guinnez keeping an eye on the family
Mama and Dad share a laugh pondside

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