The smell of pink, soft skin smells pure and innocent. Perfect and without the defect of adult years

Her megre legs and arms are being fed and made fat by my own body

Slow and intentional blinks. Her eyes fill with the whole world, ingesting her new life.

Sylvie. A pink sea shell. Plumeria. The warm, salty ocean…

She is finally here!

Inspiration from children’s books

As I wait for another presence to come into our home I’ve been getting settled into our new community and that includes checking into our library system. It’s summer and I’m finding books to read to the kids that infuse them with the topics of summertime, the outdoors, life by the water and what animals lie in that water. Our current surroundings are the elements that are guiding my book selections.

I recently checked out the works of Robert Frost which are illustrated for children. Reading his poems makes me want to spend all day walking in the woods, or maybe it transends me into the woods while I read, I’m not completely sure. At any rate I’m finding a lot of inspiration from the books I’m reading to my kids. It’s funny how children’s literature can uplift the adult soul. There is one book that I read and re-read to my kids on a regular basis. It’s sweetly poetic and charmingly illustrated. I love the layers of colour and the images on the pages. It’s a book about the changing of seasons and I found that I can appreciate, even while living in the bitter winters of Wisconsin, the change from fall to winter and I can even appreciate it’s beauty.

This morning I read to the kids about sailing ships in far away places and the nature of adventure and risk for a small child. I’m not saying that reading Barbara Kingslover isn’t inspiring me but there is something special and foundational about the adventures that children have which make me want to play outside, eat a sandwich mixed with sandy bits and breathe the sea air.

Here are a few gems that I’ve found

– Red Sings from Treetops: a year in colors by Joyce Sidman

– Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain by Edward Ardizzone

– The Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

– Anything by A.A. Milne

– The Sign of the Seahorse (poems about life under the sea) by Graeme Base

Enjoy the summer sun!

A new world

Matt and I took the kids to the beach a few days ago just to explore the water and the tide pools. I grew up going to summer camps off the Puget Sound and the staff would take us down to the water to search the tide pools for starfish, clams, crabs and other creatures. I’d occasionally see sea cucumbers and other little fish in the larger pools and it always amazed me to touch, poke and handle life in the water. My family would go clam digging or crabbing and we would bring our food home and eat fresh sea food for dinner. As we have lived in the Midwest for 10 years the past few have been a heaviness about my kids missing out on this type of discovery that I had growing up. I realize you can make your own treasure wherever you live but I longed for them to see what I saw growing up and, knowing my children and their exuberant wonder, I knew this place would never stop being fascinating to them in their young life.

Moving back here has been busy nearly every day as we try to get out and explore before baby number three comes. We’ve been to the forest, the beach, trails, back to the beach and to more beaches. Last week we went to Fox Island and stopped while the tide was out to watch some locals catch crab. My son was mesmerized! He ran up to a man with a bucket of crabs and the gracious man gave my kids a lesson in aquatic life that made me smile and sigh with relief. “We made it! This is what I wanted for them.” I said these words inside as I sat on the rocky beach just watching them explore this new world near the water. We stayed at the beach over an hour lifting rocks to search for crabs. I got a kick out of watching Matt explore the beach with the same wonder as our kids. He was fascinated with the crabs, shells and the sea life. It was really sweet.

By the end of the day I realized how rich I’ve been growing up here; the mountains, rivers, streams, green trees all year round. The ocean, clams and salmon, cherries on the side of the road during the summer ($1.60 a lb!), berries that grow all over town, the smell of salt near the bay and 9pm sunshine in the summer. This is home!