It occurred to me to re-introduce myself for anyone who hasn't been able to cobble together who I am or some of the circumstances surrounding me. If you see mention of “Logan” on this blog, and wonder who I am talking about, Logan is the two-year-old son of my older stepdaughter. When he was just a few months old, he began to spend time here—overnight visits that increased in frequency so that when he was barely over a year old, he lived here most of the time. The conditions under which that took place are a cliché in modern America: grandparents raising children whose parents cannot. For all the reasons you don't want to hear.
The short story is that I am Logan's Nana. I spend more time with him than anyone else on earth, and even though we have no immediate genetics, one of the ongoing delights of my life is that people constantly think I am his mother and say we look alike. Our eyes are a lot alike: the only two green-eyed people in our entire extended family. And who wouldn't want to look like family to this sweet boy?
(Most of these photos are from his earliest farm visits in 2005, which you, clever reader that you are, will be able to separate from the recent ones.)
Happily, Logan’s sunny company made doing this job easy, and we have adapted to whatever it has taken to incorporating his life into ours. When I started this blog, it dovetailed beautifully with all the extra daycare I was suddenly, and without any kind of recompense, having to provide. Solution? Take the boy to the farms with me. (He's getting a goat kiss good-bye at Claravale Farm in this photo, above.)
(Pictured here on a tractor at Dirty Girl Farm in Santa Cruz. No, it wasn't running.) Initial contacts with farms new to us always included the request that I could bring a toddler—a well-behaved toddler interested in farms. And so the farming community has embraced this boy, who is affectionate and loving and helpful, and whose manners bring compliments from people who do not necessarily have the opportunity to bestow such compliments with frequency.
As Logan has grown, the amount of love he enjoys has grown. (He's out at Ranch 101 here, the serene leader of a poultry cult, it seems.) Visits to farmers markets are punctuated with manly High Fives for some of the farmers, and kisses and hugs for others. The gender of the farmer in question plays no roll in this, I am happy to say.
On the homefront, he has also grown. This summer, at the tender age of two-and-a-half, Logan was able to water the entire garden, appropriately, with only minimal supervision or interference. When he harvested the first corn, he squealed with glee, "I HELPED GWOW DIS!" (He has the lisp that prevents proper pronunciation of L's, R's, Th's, and even Y's. So he YUVS me YACHTS!)
The men and women we know who farm have taken Logan under their wings, which gives me more hope for his abiding happiness than I have the power to say. For example, this picture is inside the chicken pen at Love Apple Farm, where I think Cynthia Sandberg and I cemented a friendship that had already showed great promise. She was impressed that I didn't try to keep him clean. Are you kidding me? A dirty boy is a happy boy, and bathtime is the time to recount the fun day. Her chickens were so cool: they weren't afraid of the loud toy in their yard. He, however, was about to bust a spring. Naptime was good that day for Logan.)
He is touching so many people in this county and beyond, and he had brought me new friends who flat out amaze me in their dedication, devotion, and commitment. Not just to growing food sustainably, but in living sustainably by cultivating relationships that are based on mirth, hard work, generosity, and forebearance. They bring all of themselves to work that is perhaps the most honorable in the world—is that disputable? Not to me. And they bring all of themselves to whichever communities they inhabit.
You think CLEVELAND rocks? Santa Cruz rocks. (Ask Chairman Kaga here. NOTE: that is a candid photo. He watches Iron Chef now but no way could I have asked him to pose. That's just a strawberry from our garden. With more intensity.)
Today, Bob (aka Logan's “Poppy“) and I had a certain small legal victory that I can divulge more fully in a few weeks. But it strengthened our ability to protect him from anything that might darken his eyes. Bob and I lived through quite a lot of darkness as children—not so much as children whose countries are being bombed, not that.
But there are a thousand things that can hurt a child, and we are doing the simplest things we can to protect him. Absence of profane and nasty hip-hop, for one. Absence of cigarettes and MTV and hey, absence of television commercials, period. (Yes, we have a television in the house. Yes, we are that shallow.) Absence of violence, absence of Barney the Dinosaur. Absence of screaming parents. Absence of “bling” on his little toddler's clothing. (Seriously, the only word he's got on a shirt I bought him is RRAAWWWRRR! on a little red four-armed monster t-shirt.)
The presence of: footie jammies, steel cut oats with cinnamon and milk and butter and sugar, yard work, crayons, books to be read aloud (by Nana of the Thousand Voices), watching Nana cook eggies and toast and special dinner, and all kinds of other things that we deem Wholesome. (Are you wondering why we let him wear these jammies with the holes in the toes? Because I had a pair just like it: I grew so fast, and one toe worked its way out, and the next thing I knew, I was trying to get my whole foot out. He had fun, believe me, watching himself outgrow these 24M jammies. You gotta outgrow your footie jammies!)
I wish there were such a thing as an Andy Griffith primer that I could just show these jaded hiphopping low-lifes who haven't the first idea what a child needs to grow up whole. (Hey, if you're a wholesome hiphopper, you're cheating somewhere. And pull your freakin' pants up, please, before I go spank your mother‘s hand.)
Logan is very much immersed into knights, only he calls them "knife guys." He is forever and ever putting the Bad Guys ON DA GWOUND, as well as wescuing da princess and taking care of da dwagon. He loves Shrek and Knight’s Tale equally. When I got him this little suit of armor, he left it on for eight hours, and walked around like Russell Crowe with his sword in the air. His eyebrows can work like Jack Nicholson or John Belushi, seriously.
And if he wants the Beebee (binky, pacifier, call it whatever), he wants the Beebee. He's had enough stress in his months on this earth that I do not consider it a personal failure that he needs a little something to suck on. Perhaps gratifying these urges now will keep the cigarettes out of his mouth later.
Despite the Middle Ages costume, we hope we're raising a farmer. (“We” meaning the farmers and I, frankly. Bob and Logan's mother don't have an agenda, but we share the prayer that he will simply realize his purpose and attain it, for his happiness. He's showing already that he's got what he takes. He likes hard work. He likes to make things grow. And he loves with his entire being. He even likes to get up early. (Woe is me.)
I am younger than I was two years ago. I wake up laughing every single morning that he is in this house, but I am not a bliss ninny because I also find my teeth grinding when he has a major meltdown because it's time to brush teeth.
So that's a little more of the backstage action here at I Heart Farms.
I am Logan‘s Nana, and that rhymes with Tana Banana, because that's who I‘ve always been.
This Thanksgiving, Bob and I will be together with all three of our daughters for the first time in a very very long time. And Logan will be there, in the company of not only us, but cousins he's met only once, and adored. I will be biting the bullet and eating StoveTop Stuffing, no doubt, but into every life some rain must fall.
We have a family.
Next year I‘ll pig out (literally) with the pastured animals and the people who raise them, and who cook them to perfection.
God willin‘ and the creek don‘t rise.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “Give me the damned baby.” — The Butler/Parker/Anderson/Turner/Mitchell/Churchill family motto
That would be us, dear reader. My clan. Our other collective belief is that goofballs are good. And oh, can we tell a goofball from a square.
Thanks for visiting.