Harvest Winds

The desert breeze shifts, in what seems like a moment, from a blaze of heat to the cool breath of a child’s whisper.

It lifts more than the winged, graceful beasts into the air.    It lifts my spirits, the mood of my children, and the anticipation of new Earth souls born near fireplaces and under the gleam of Andromeda, Cassiopeia, and Pegasus.

The air is crisp and wafts of pumpkin, in ovens and on front patios.

The clear, smog less light of midday beckons me to keep driving, trudging on until I find that one special place nestled between base of the mountains and the ocean.  That’s a long drive.  I imagine  surprising Jason and telling him to hop in.  I imagine our girls sleeping through most of it, or watching the landscapes shape shift before their eyes.

Our hammock swings itself in the gusts and later, my husband and I make our way out to nuzzle after the girls have gone to bed.  I notice his face in the moonlight and the way the Palo Verdes sway themselves to sleep.

Nostalgia seeps out of me effortlessly in Autumn.   I pine for bonfires and hay rides and wide open storm doors and my hometown’s Fall Festival and watching the Star Wars trilogy over and over.    So, we host a Harvest Moon Soiree with scents of the season abounding and hot wassail and a recipe for homemade hot cocoa gifted to me by a midwife  (spiked with Peppermint Schnapps for the grownups) and tons and tons of friends as perfect as the moonlight.





(Thanks for the photos, Emily, who is pictured above)

For now, as I let nostalgia spin in my bones,  I cook.  Yeah,  insert sound of record needle screeching.  Yes, me.  Cooking.  Being low on cash flow (in the grand scheme of things, RICH of hand and heart) has lead me to finally let go of my phobia of cooking.  Also, an out-of-service microwave jumpstarted the effort.  We don’t miss it and don’t plan on fixing it any time soon.  And cooking gave me something useful to do during my summer hibernation.

And so I mix the crisp sweet potatoes into the quinoa.  With a wooden spoon,  I stir squash and basil into the soup.    I roll enchiladas and slather them in red sauce, because I know Jason likes it better than Verde sauce.  I bake chocolate mint brownies and grate the orange zest into the cranberry orange cookie batter.    I use up fresh Rosemary in whichever way I can – in stews and on potatoes and lentil loaf – feeling healed bit by bit by the fragrant herb.    We eat lots of hot-from-the-iron waffles and my French toast infused with love and vanilla/nutmeg/brown sugar.   I’ve chopped and diced and chopped and diced tomatoes for garlic-laden bruschetta on crusty slices of bread.  There have been massive fails too, like gooey floppy pancakes and burnt scrambled eggs and a green bean casserole in which I completely forgot the whole sauce/filling (so, it was basically just green beans with some salt, pepper, and French fried onions).   We laugh at the failed attempts and toast our juice glasses to the successes.

Oh no no no, there are still the PB&J sandwiches and frozen pizzas and quick bean and cheese burritos and canned alphabet soup.   These staples are necessary in my life full of laboring mamas and scrubbing crayon stick-figure drawings off walls.



While I write this, my half-naked girls sit and watch beautiful hula dancers accompanied by various hula and coconut knee drums.

I remember being all of 11 years old or so and dancing a hula on stage with my sister and step-mama at a luau in Hawaii.  I can still smell the pig roasting in the imu pit, feet tied firmly on the stick, smoke offering a prayer under its belly.   And of course the sexy, bronzed Hawaiian men and women who draped us in flowering leis.


(me on the far left, my little sis and step-mom on the far right)

Now they are watching an African harvest dance.    And I wish I could visit a land whose heartbeat is that of a drum.  I think of my friend Brooke and how she carried babies on her back during her visit to Africa.  I think of my midwife traveling to Africa soon to share, and teach, and learn from the ways of the people.  I think of my cousin and the spread of food she partook in on her travel to Africa and they way her fiancé named his dog after a sweet boy who followed him around there.

Then I think of how the Dance Queens, MB and Brooke, busted out some African Dance moves at my blessingway when Indigo was growing in my belly.   Wine flowed, booty’s were a’shakin and I sat with an extra 50 lbs on my body just taking it all in.


Did you know?  My half-naked two year old is potty-trained and can count to ten.  All on her own, without any prompting.  I’m speechless.  And she eats salad and salsa and has a new bob haircut that is reminiscent of Maria from Sound of Music.  How could I forget how much I LOVE two years old?


Did you know? My half-naked four year old knows basic addition, how to write all her letters, the simple concepts of conception and birth, and the beginnings of sounding out words.  All on her own, without any prompting.


And it’s not that they are extraordinary.  It’s just proof that allowing children to be ordinary, while giving them extra (love, attention, time, space), leads to them to take in life and learning at a comfortable and heart-expanding pace.  They are Ordinary, with a little extra.

Did you know that we like to dance on tables and close our eyes and sing at the top of our lungs while listening to Regina Spektor on full blast?  And we giggle to ourselves when Daddy says “Hey, we don’t stand on tables”.  Silly daddy, of course we do.  Come join us (see Video below).

Dancing Machines from Leigh on Vimeo.

Did you know that as a mama, I have a few good weeks:  those full of patience and gentle guidance and kindness and crafty crafts and fresh air and drippy blueberries and organic produce and stacks of books ploughed through with story-telling and no TV whatsoever.  And then I get slammed on my face my two consecutive days of unleashed anger and “C’mon do it MY WAY! RIGHT NOW!” and applesauce with mac-n-cheese and turning on a kids show so I can have four singular minutes alone and crying alone after they sleep in regret for the energy I forced into their space. Our Space.

I find my way back to Our Space – the one where we giggle cheek to cheek and share a singular pulse – with the late night cuddles as they crawl into bed between us.   There are 76 inches of space in our bed.   Most nights, I occupy a crevasse of about 8 inches.  Cramped and stiff, they are the most bodacious 8 inches I could ask for, for I am bookended by perfection.


10 Comments Add yours

  1. Your cooking sounds delicious. Your girls are fantabulous and gifted (but that’s a given). I so agree with this: “And it’s not that they are extraordinary. It’s just proof that allowing children to be ordinary, while giving them extra (love, attention, time, space), leads to them to take in life and learning at a comfortable and heart-expanding pace. They are Ordinary, with a little extra.”

    I love the video of them dancing, and chuckled under my breath at the slow-mo-low-key-volume-knob-power-struggle.

    And I so hear you on the anger-do-it-my-way thing. Crying over my perceived failures. Wondering what in the hell I’m doing? How did I get into this, and why is it that I feel so lost so much of the time?

    I too find my way back. I get lost. Then found. Lost. Then found. Life goes on.

  2. Erica says:

    I’m soooo jealous of the Harvest moon soiree. You are so awesome! And low and behold you can cook! And here I thought you didn’t know the right end of a mixing spoon. *eg*

  3. mb says:

    i love that video! indi is so big…and her From My Heart hand gesture. It reminds me of the Rasta’s greeting one another, One Love, One Heart. so lovely to see them both in action!

    i think you are lying about cooking. but that’s okay.

    love love love up.

  4. janistan says:

    What can I say? I must sound like a broken-down recorder, but I LOVE everything you do, all your words, who you are.
    Blessed to know you. xoxo

  5. Brooke says:

    I wanna be at your Autumn festival, dancing in the light of luminaria and drinking cocoa with schnapps!

    And, I must say, its about time you were seduced by the pleasures of food beyond the mere fact that one must eat to live.

    Booty shakin…oh, the booty shakin. It’s a must! Come with me to Africa again someday and we will dance to drums at the edge of the ocean under a full moon. But first you can teach me the hula.

  6. Rebekah says:

    That was TOO SWEET, watching your beautiful girlies dance around the room.

    And I’d forgotten that you once wrote that you “eat to live” … that makes your awesome yumminess in the kitchen even more wonderful! Woo hoo!! =D

  7. Jena Strong says:

    Hula bootie-shaking someday all of us together. You are such a gorgeous mama.

    p.s. I have those same 8 inches of bed.

  8. New Mama says:

    Leigh, I so wish I could drop by your house and witness the love and energy and creativity and passion firsthand. 🙂

  9. THank you for affirming (to me at least) that there is still so many grander moments full of delicious memories besides the angry ones. I can forget that sometimes…


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