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A note for all of you (readers, that is): I’ve been woefully absent from the blog for a long time, and I appreciate all the e-mails asking after my well-being (and also asking when-the-hell-are-you-going-to-start-blogging-again?!). This hiatus began as we ramped up for our big move (and downsizing) from house to loft, and it’s extended to post-move for the simple reason that I’m feeling the need to get settled. To find the zen I was seeking when we hatched this plan last August. I’m not delusional. I’m Type A, so zen is relative. But there’s definitely been a shift in the way I view life, time, being, doing. So I’m going with that a bit longer and seeing where I land.

For the rest of the summer, I’ll post as I can and stay active on the Spoonfed Facebook page, but I won’t resume regular posting until after school starts. At that point, though, watch out! I’ve been percolating a whole lot of thoughts and posts while we get settled. (Apparently shedding most of your stuff frees your brain for other things.)

One thing I have made time for amid the move is gardening. Or at least my new version of gardening. Planting our balcony was a priority even as I dug through boxes to find my underwear. So I’ll share here a piece I just wrote for my “Rooted” column in the Upstate Gardeners’ Journal. Thanks, all. Happy summer.

Garden with a view

Garden with a view

When we traded the big house and yard for a downtown loft, everyone asked about the garden. What would I do without a garden? I’d thought about that when we’d decided to move, thought about the many years and countless hours and endless pleasures I’d found in my gardening life. But also the many years and countless hours and endless work. And it was all good.

And now that we’re here, it’s still all good. Our balcony is planted with tomatoes and herbs. Lots of herbs. I couldn’t resist when visiting the markets and the old instincts kicked in, so I bought another railing box to accommodate the extras. There are four now, plus the two big tomato pots. And a small pot of nasturtiums. And two other pots waiting to be filled. Visitors marvel at the abundance in such a small footprint. (And I could go vertical still.) But this is exactly how I envisioned it. Life against the brick. Green amid the urban. My gardening fix without the stress I’d begun to feel in recent years.

Yet as much as I’ve felt the burden lift, I worried about our daughter. Tess is 8. She’s grown up with a big yard, big gardens, lots of space to plant and play. Tess was excited about the move, enthusiastic in the way that kids are when they’re getting a new room and stuff to go with it, but also excited because the loft would give her a (shared) rooftop deck and a view in the spirit of the big cities she loves to visit.

Of course the anticipation of moving can be different from the reality, so I feared a backlash. Or at least a lot of sulking. But Tess has embraced loft living, the newness of it and the fun perks, like mud puddles in the parking lot and riding the elevator at whim. And gardening on a small scale. Her scale.

There’s a terrarium on her windowsill. And seeds sprouting in the kitchen. She picked out pots for the balcony (but is still deciding what to plant). She did lament the loss of trees right outside her window (the better to see squirrels up close), but she plays in nearby parks and communes with the birds and butterflies that find our balcony and windowsills.

Our move puts us within walking distance of both our favorite (producer-only) farmers’ market and our favorite natural-foods store — both urban as well — so local eats are within easy reach. There’s talk of a garden on the roof, and we’ve already started u-pick rounds for the season.

Things don’t feel all that different. And yet they do. In that simplified, more time, less stress way that we craved when we made the move. Boxes remain. We’re still settling in. But there’s a calm I haven’t felt before. When a worker in our building questioned my T-shirt with the words “Farm Girl” — “Did you grow up on a farm or something?” — I answered no, I’m just a girl who knows and loves her local farmers. And is thankful that they do all the work. So I don’t have to.


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