William has done an amazing job on our garden this spring. He has worked for weeks on this plot.
And our compost pile–he’s been tending these volunteer potato plants for many weeks now.
We have some favorite gardening books we read this time every year.
The Curious Garden, by Peter Brown
This is one of those magical picture books that can be read over and over again (and we have been, for about 6 years!). Liam (yes, he even shares a name with our family gardener) is a little boy who lives in a big, ugly city. Liam is a bit of a loner and while he is wandering around town one day, he comes across a few weeds growing along an abandoned elevated railroad track. He decides to tend the little patch of weeds, and so begins a lifelong project to beautify his world. This book is like a manifesto for our William. 🙂 And the illustrations are really beautiful.
Another inspirational gardening book for our family is
On Meadowview Street, by Henry Cole
Caroline’s family has just moved into a new house on a suburban street ironically named “Meadowview Street.” But of course there’s no meadow on Meadowview Street, and the only view is that of row after row of identical, mowed lawns.
While her father is mowing the lawn one Saturday morning, Caroline spots a beautiful wildflower and asks her dad to spare one little patch of grass from the mower’s blades. That one little patch grows and grows until finally the family tosses out the lawnmower and ends up turning their yard into a nature preserve. Family after family on their street follow their example until Meadowview Street actually begins to live up to its name.
So after we read this book this spring, here’s what popped up in my yard:
The problem, kids, is that if we stop mowing our lawn, it does not look like a beautiful nature preserve. It looks like a jungle of weeds. Like our neighbors down the street who haven’t mowed their lawn for a year and have received two city citations for “grass over 9 inches high.”
So we compromised and gave the kids one portion of the backyard for their “meadow,” as long as they pulled up one particularly annoying and sticky weed.
It is actually pretty there, and I’ve noticed more birds and butterflies in that part of the yard.
For my part, I read two parenting books recently.
The Key to your Child’s Heart, by Gary Smalley
The Secrets of Happy Families, by Bruce Feiler
The Smalley book was written when I was a kid, and the Feiler book was just published last year. One was ultra-conservative and the other ultra-liberal. Neither book was amazing, but I have read a lot of parenting books in the past 11 years and none of them has been really amazing! But all of them have had something positive for me to take away.
The common theme between these two books was that families who make time to have fun together are happier. Vacations, camping, Saturday morning hikes, elaborate family reunions, soccer in the backyard–whatever your family enjoys, make time for it. It’s easier for families who have fun together to deal with the regular stress and chaos of daily life, as well as the occasional but inevitable serious hardship.
It’s so easy to let days or weeks slip away in a mass of chores, errands, to-do lists, work, and emails. Even though I spend almost all my time with my children, I find this is true of me too.
The message in the books I read last week was that if you make time for the things that make you personally happy, you will have more resources to draw on in your regular job (whether it’s running a company or a household). This week’s message is that the same is true of families.
Joining up with Jessica @ Housewifespice for another virtual book club this Wednesday.