Saturday, March 5, 2011

Seeds, Serendipity, and Spring Cleaning

Today we're preparing the house for Spring. No, we're not putting out pretty nests and coloured eggs (yet)! The basement has held a winter's worth of wood, and the bits of bark and kindling must be swept up before the inevitable Spring inundation. I'm's more of a trickle, but enough that we have to use a sump pump to keep the freezer, furnace, washer and dryer well out of the water's reach. The cobwebs also need clearing, the shelves some organising, and the little corners of scariness tidying.

The basement is one of those unpleasant places to clean, especially if you live in an old farmhouse. The floors are rough, the walls are damp; constant vigilance is required to prevent mildew, mold, and mushrooms (I'm not joking). I've read that if the house were a person, the basement would represent our subconsious mind. No wonder they're so often damp, dark, and creepy! Ha! I'm looking forward to creating order in this neglected space. I visit it often each day, to fill the furnace with wood and the washer with laundry. I'm picturing a cold storage room full of bins of potatoes, carrots, squash, garlic, beets, and so on, and tidy shelves of jewel-coloured jars of preserves and sauces. I'm also hopefully planning to try fermenting with the help of a new friend...more on that later.

We're also getting ready to start our seeds. In years past, a dear friend and gardening mentor started all our seeds and shared the gardening work. Since we've moved here, we've had a spring baby that required medical attention, and a garden started from greenhouse (purchased) seedlings. This year I'm starting my own! We've moved a shelf into our kitchen where the south facing windows are, and are taking a look at what we hope will be a cold-storage room in the basement.

The webcam works in a pinch!
If you happen to be in the Ottawa Valley this weekend, please consider stopping by Fellowes High School in Pembroke where the annual Seedy Sunday event will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Vendors, guest speakers, live music, fresh local food, and a kid zone all conspire to entice winter-weary souls into thinking: Spring! I'll be volunteering at the door, performing some music, and selling a few hand-painted cards at a friend's table.
Hooray for the webcam!

And now for the serendipity, that quirky little force that brings good things into your life just when you need them (and least expect them). Some of you are aware that I've had some camera issues lately. I had resigned myself to reducing my normal amount of blogposts, using my mom's camera, and slowly saving up for one for myself, without any expectation of when I might be able to afford one.

Then I got a message on Facebook from a university friend who now lives in Australia. We haven't seen each other in 15 years or so. We've been in touch sporadically. She told me in her message that she is one of those silent followers of my blog, and loves the glimpse it gives her of a life so different from hers. I had no idea she read my posts, and was touched by her words.

Imagine my delight and gratitude when she told me she had a camera to send me! Turns out her dad loves to buy new technology, and sends her his castoffs. She didn't like the idea of me not being able to take pictures of those little daily moments (like yesterday's mental photo of Violet in a too-big, saggy-bum bathing suit and a Santa hat), so is generously offering me one of her dad's cameras!

To say I am touched and overwhelmed by the way life provides is an understatement. So, a shout out to Nikki, away on the other side of the globe, and to everyone who has offered suggestions and encouragement.


  1. I am hoping to start my own seeds soon! This will be my first year having a small kitchen garden. Any tips for a newbie?

  2. Congrats on the new camera! I am also volunteering at Seedy Sunday tomorrow but in Perth. We can't wait for our first real garden on the farm and I'm curious to see what seeds will be there. I too would love to see some tips for newbie gardeners :)

  3. A cold room would be wonderful! My parent had one when I was a child -- it wasn't large, but it held enough to get us through the winter. My favourite cold storage, however, is my grama's 'celler'. She lives in a old, uninsulated farm house on a hill with views of Foymount in the distance. Her cellar is literally a large room dug out of the earth under her house and accessed by a trap door in the kitchen. There are bins for potatoes and onions, and shelves and shelves of preserved vegetables and fruit. It's dark and a little scary down there, but oh-so-full of goodness.

  4. Looking forward to Seedy Sunday. I just hope we can get out of the yard with all this blasted snow!!
    My partner is big on fermenting stuff. It's not my thing but he always has a cauldron of something stinking (well to me anyway) up the kitchen. Presently it is beets, cabbage, peppers, assorted veg. anyway.
    True Friends take care of each other!

  5. I know just what you mean about old farmhouses getting mouldy and damp. How wonderful you were gifted a camera from an old friend - so heart warming!

  6. YAY Nikki! By sending this great woman a camera, you have sent us ALL a gift.

    Stephanie, those hand-painted cards look like collectors' items to me! You are inspiring, in countless ways.

    Blessings and light (all the better for growing seedling with)...

  7. I'm bringing up the shelves too...hope to start some seeds mid month!! I'm so excited at the idea of having something seedlings in the soul is aching for green right now! So glad you'll be getting a camera...
    thank goodness for the kindness of people!

    xo maureen

  8. We are embarking on the building of a workshop/garage in our back yard this summer, so I'm afraid a garden will be too much for this FT working mother to handle. One year, I hope to start seedlings in March. Until then, perhaps I will manage with a couple of tomato plants on the patio and herbs among the flowers.
    Have fun. And I love those cards you made!

  9. oh I am sooo happy to hear your getting a camera. We're posted and I need to follow your blog to keep some sort of roots in the Ottawa Valley :).

    I remember root cellers dug out of old houses too. Several of my relatives had them, and you would open the doors outside the house to get to them, I use to pretend I was Dorothy from the wizard of Oz making my way to the cellar.


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