Fun on the Farm

Please imagine that title sung to the tune of “Home on the Range,” which is one of the many songs played by Micah’s amazing walker, and which has the distinction of being my very favorite. With that little bit of housekeeping out of the way, helloooo from your long-lost Pasadena correspondent! It feels so good to be settled enough to write a bit here. We have had the most awesome whirlwind of travel this summer, and I have been so wanting to post about it, but have been suffering from Too Many Pictures-itis. You know, when you have so many pictures that it feels daunting to even choose which ones to use, to say nothing of resizing and exporting them? I know, a silly problem. I have conquered it (perhaps…) by telling myself to just choose five pictures from each big event. I don’t think there’s a lot of hope for me actually sticking to that number, but…if it gets me to open Picasa, then I’ll take it!

Anyway! Enough blathering about the photographic riches of the digital age! On to the travels. (Please, please forgive me for throwing in a Gogolian “Follow me, reader!” It fills my nerdy heart with glee!) So, we drove from Pasadena to Aspen in May, spending three days on the road through Nevada and Utah into Colorado. We spent three weeks in Aspen, with a few side trips on the weekends, and then we drove back, at a slightly more leisurely pace, accompanied all along by our adorable baby. How did it go? Awesome! Just totally shockingly awesome! One million blog posts about this will surely follow.

Two weeks after we got home, we flew out (with adorable baby in tow) to visit Eric’s family on their farm, and my parents drove up to spend the 4th of July with us all. How did that go? Awesome! And that shall be the subject of today’s post. Because when starting from the beginning is too daunting…one must start from the end!

IMG_2102One of my favorite things about visiting the farm is that it’s full of simple pleasures that make me feel so much closer to the earth: frogs singing in the evening, deer snacking on the corn just beyond the window, owls hooting in the trees, wild asparagus springing up by the pond, Queen Anne’s lace lining every road. Here is a small gaggle of baby-admirers heading out to pick blueberries in the sunshine.

IMG_2127Look at this glory.

IMG_2116I had actually never picked blueberries before, so it was my first time seeing this gorgeous riot of shading on the way to ripeness. If I were in charge of naming them, I’d call them moon berries in honor of their pale luminosity.

IMG_2110And there are grapes too! What a wonder it is, as a human, to have the chance to watch something grow, day by day. I have only been to the farm in the summer and winter, but I aspire to get there in the fall and spring too, to see things just starting to bloom and just about to fall off the trees with ripeness.

IMG_2104Speaking of growing, look at these gorgeous robin’s eggs, safely nestled into a corner of the water tank.

IMG_2342By the day we left to fly back to California, they had hatched. Precious, precious, precious.

A few days later Eric’s dad sent me an update. Amazing!

unnamedAnd he sent me a picture of this adorable little snapping turtle he found in the driveway, less than 2″ long. I show you all of this to prove my cliched but true point: on the farm wonders never cease.

IMG_2126-001And there are other wonders too. It would be impossible to begin to describe the joy that Micah has brought us with his toothy little grins, turbo speed crawling, and relentless curiosity about the world around him. However, it is a special treat to see his grandparents join in the adoration too, and get to share with him the things that are so special to them too. If this picture isn’t frame-worthy, then I don’t know what is.

IMG_2134There is also always so. much. laughter. I modeled all my farm chic outfits for Eric. The sound of him laughing is one of my favorite sounds on earth. Dad let me borrow his rubber boots, and this is Eric’s shirt. I bought these ripped-up and faded Levi’s when I was in about the eighth grade…and now they are back in style. I don’t know whether to be excited or horrified.

IMG_2146The second day we were there, my parents arrived from Memphis: woohoo! It was their first time on the farm, and we did it up right. We took them to town for dinner and took a few celebratory shots in the square. Fact: in a photo that includes a baby, it is impossible for all subjects to be looking at the camera. Three out of four ain’t bad!

IMG_2147The next day we came back to town for more exploring. There are some cute shops on the square, and I was taken by this jewelry display. I was trying to frame it so that it looked like I was wearing the necklace. Fail. But a pretty fail!

IMG_2150We all know that Illinois is the Land of Lincoln, but I did not know that Lincoln once practiced as a circuit lawyer right here in town, and that this commemorative painting was done by a distant relative of Eric’s. Cool!

IMG_2165There is an antique shop on the square in what was once a pharmacy (and before that a grand hotel). Dad remembers going here as a little boy. It is all kinds of beautiful inside, truly. Look at those cabinets! And the ladder! And the old pharmacy bottles up top! And the ceiling tiles! I would be happy to move right in, or at least house a very esoteric-looking library here.

IMG_2166This picture is kind of blurry (lame), but I wanted to include it because you can just barely make out the little enclosed alcoves in the back, where I assume the pharmacist once mixed prescriptions. So awesome.

IMG_2169After our foray through the antique store, where, sadly, the gorgeous cowboy boots I tried on were just a hair away from fitting, we went to Refuge, a great coffee house. The way the tacks were placed to hold up this little deer made it look like they were earrings, so, naturally, I found this worthy of a picture.

IMG_2170I was actually just there with my parents, and it was such a sweet time with them, a time to remember that I’m their baby too. But I was kind of sorry that I didn’t have my baby with me because they have this incredible play room for kids!

IMG_2175Including a nursing and changing room?! What is this, mom heaven?!

IMG_2176I made friends with a group of ladies who were knitting, and who were so impossibly kind to me (like everyone else in this welcoming little town). When I lamented that I didn’t have any knitting to work on, one of them offered to let me come to her house and borrow some yarn and needles. Ah, the sweetness! And then my mom let me work on her knitting so she could finish a letter to Ellen. True generosity.

IMG_2177Me and my sweet daddy.

IMG_2181That night we went down to the winery where my parents were staying for dinner. I really try not to put up too many pictures of my baby, but…look at my beautiful angel.

IMG_2194Annnnnd look at him again. He truly is the sweetest and happiest little tiger I have ever met. I took about 10 shots of him smiling with his daddy, and my finger is in every single one of them. Small price to pay for this extreme cuteness.

IMG_2211The next day we were back on the farm for the annual 4th of July pictures in the field. Eric’s family has been doing this since before he was a twinkle in their eyes. We were so happy to be there for it, although, alas, I don’t have the pictures we took with his family on my camera. But they do exist! (And, in case you’re wondering, yes, farm chic outfits are good for more than one wear.)

IMG_2219We also got a farm-style pick-up ride! I told my mom I wasn’t going to let her ride on the side like this because I am the world’s most overprotective daughter, but eventually I had mercy and relented.

IMG_2242We gave Micah a little practice birthday cake, which was hilarious and adorable.

IMG_2238And then we gave him a bath. And then he played the piano with his daddy. Sweet fuzzy head.

IMG_2260My dad was basically in heaven on his tractor lesson. Adorable!

IMG_2276And mom had her turn.

IMG_2277And I did too! It was serious fun, I must say. And not too hard!

IMG_2308We stayed the night with my parents at their cabin and then bid them a sad farewell in the morning before we headed back up to town for church, where Micah got to meet some of his cousins and made very good friends with the man sitting in the pew behind us. The next couple of days were a whirlwind of happy visits with family and friends and two, count them, TWO, dates. Thank you, grandparents! Here is Eric with his breakfast horseshoe at Jubelt’s before we took a quick spin through Rural King (looking for tiny John Deere shirts, of course) and went to the movies. Dinner and a movie! We haven’t done that since…I was pregnant.

IMG_2310One of the coolest things about Eric’s part of Illinois is that Route 66 ran right through it. I am nothing if not a map nerd and amateur travel historian, so this kind of thing is a thrill for me. Lots of people actually fly to Chicago, rent motorcycles, and drive the entirety of Route 66, bringing them right through Eric’s town. I think that is so awesome. This is a new Route 66 Museum in the town where we ate dinner. And this picture is for my dad. We didn’t get to go inside, but it would be fun to do on our next visit.

IMG_2314We also got to see the famous Ariston: sadly, closed on Mondays, but we will be back! This place is extra special because Eric’s parents ate here the night they got engaged. It’s so fun to me to keep discovering new places every time we come to visit.

IMG_2327But what I really carry with me are the little things: Micah smiling on the swingset, Eric’s mom laughing with us at the table, Eric’s dad waking up bright and early to play with us every morning, fireflies filling the summer air, martins and swallows swooping, frogs singing every evening. We all were so excited for Micah to experience all of this for the first time. I think it’s safe to say he loved it as much as we did.

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