summer prelude

After a few days of warmth, sun and leaping bulbs, the weather reminded us that it isn’t even spring yet.


The last few days have been cold and rainy-snowy. I am so a four-season girl but every year, around this time, I crave bare feet, dirt under my fingernails, fresh food, river dips, photos without puffy coats. In other words, every March I am a little over it.

Puffy Coat Photo #679, St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Every March we get those few days: the prelude to, not spring, but summer. A few days where all of Missoula bursts outside like dandelion seeds in a passionate gust. We rifle through boxes to find weather-appropriate clothing and stroll around the valley with starry smiles. We might shiver in the shade but in the big ol’ bright sun? Our bodies remember summer.

It is a weird dance for me during those few bitchy weeks where winter shakes her fleshy hips into spring. I want to garden! But the thick mud, frozen ground and spontaneous blizzards make me wait. So instead of turning my interests elsewhere I tend to just meditate on the gardening I can’t yet do. It is annoying annual habit.

Right now, in our mid-Montana March, I can be found wandering our new yard, pausing for long periods of time to squint at blank spots and plan for fruit trees, fences, gardens. I imagine what trees will look like when leafed out and then study the photos I took of the property last summer.

September 2011: south-facing, our backyard property ends where the grass browns

Oh man, I’ve been dreaming about our new homestead transformation. It is one of my favorite things to do, dream.

When we looked at this house for the first time last summer and I saw the big south-facing sunroom and yard I was sold. Andy studied the electrical and asked questions about forced-air heat and while I drooled over southern exposure and mountain views.

Dreamer + Pragmatist = Our Imaginative Happy Marriage.

September 2011: sunroom

September 2011: east-facing deck and grapevines off the living room

We get to move into our home in June, the one we live in, under, in a small apartment. A bit more about that (thanks for your questions, sorry I’ve been so confusing!): See we put in an offer on this house, contingent upon the sale of our other house. The people we were to buy from had an opportunity to rent for six months. They kindly asked us what we thought and we said YES. It sounds awesome to have a few months to sell our house and to move in the spring. They signed a lease with the tenant. We sold our house the next week. So we had to find a place to live until the lease was up. We considered many options but landed here in this apartment, in the very house we bought, under a lovely family.

I mentioned above that dreaming is one of my favorite things. Another favorite thing of mine is making stuff happen that seems impossible at first pass. Like buying this house, like starting seeds in an itty apartment that is literally bursting with animals and people.

We only have room for a few starts. I chose tomatoes, peppers and onions–the ones that race heartily against our short growing season. The rest of my garden is growing abundantly in my brain.

Ruby helped me plant the seeds and then my little curator rearranged all of my markers so the tomatoes will surprise us!


It quickly became clear that we needed to get the starts up away from curious hands and wagging tails.


We (Andy) drilled a few scraps from our Great Wall of Better Sleep into the trim and placed another piece of the rough-cut pine atop to form a sturdy, easy shelf.


So the girls have space to watch deer and jump, the cats can salivate over the birds that gather in the field, the dog can smile at her bff Leroy and the adults have a place to put beverages.

Photobucketwe woke to an inch or so of snow this morning


This morning Margot studied the spaces between her toes while Ruby spun in circles with a balloon from yesterday’s birthday party. Margot said, “Mama, can you NOT WAIT until it’s warm all the time and it’s summer?” Well, darlin’ girl, more or less, yes.

:: :: ::

In this week’s mama digs, I wrote about an anticipated night out with friends that went quite differently than I imagined. I am still learning how to prune my expectations into a manageable shrub or, not prune and be ok with unruly. Click to read ok with unruly.

24 Responses to summer prelude

  1. trbholt says:


    I knew as soon as I read, “So I settled my head a little heavier on the pillow and sang again.” YOU were a goner!…..what a way to go!

    Love you Burb!

  2. Becky says:


    I’m impressed you had full intentions of being out late I feel so old, but 8pm bedtime is like my dream!

  3. Jaim says:


    Ahhh, sleep is sweet and even sweeter lying next to a warm little body. Dancing and shaking your booty will come again but little Ruby will only ask for you to sing again and again for just a short time. Glad you got some much needed sleep.


  4. via

    true true true

  5. Shelby says:


    As you know, life changes, priorities change when we A) get older and B) have kids. When we are younger and kid-less, we sacrifice sleep, knowing it’s ok if we sleepily drag our way through work and life the next day, because this dancing until 4AM sounds like a great idea, at the time…and we can grab a quick nap after work and do it all over again the next night. But sometimes…sweet baby kisses and good nights sleep are all that we need to survive. You did the right think Mama!

  6. Tina says:


    Dude, I so WISH I would have listened to my body on Friday night and actually went to bed instead of going out for my friend’s birthday. Three mornings later and I am STILL feeling it. Mama doesn’t recover from a rowdy night like she used to… I had fun, yes, and deserved a night out, yes… but I’m starting to wonder if it was worth it!

    Love what Jaim said above about Rubes only wanting you to sing again and again for a short time. So true… makes my heart swell a few sizes.

  7. ctb says:

    oh we woke to snow here this morning as well. i also feel that… pull for spring.

    i so cant wait to see more of your house, garden, and all that awaits you ‘upstairs’!

  8. Bikini By 30 says:

    We’ve had amazing weather in Chicago! Chives, oregano, and mint are all sprouting up, enticing us to plant tomatoes early, but we’re fighting it. May is safer, we know it, but it’s so hard!!!

  9. Catherine says:

    You write so beautifully (It is a weird dance for me during those few bitchy weeks where winter shakes her fleshy hips into spring). It feels really weird to not experience spring this year since we are in Costa Rica for the whole winter and spring, but it sure feels so real when I read your beautiful posts! Thanks for that!

  10. Susan S says:

    Hey Nici!

    How ’bout a cold frame or two? Slap together a frame with some boards or even hay bales will do, toss in some good soil, put a used shower stall door or an old window sash on top. Position it all against your south-facing wall to get the max heat conduction, and voila! Loads of extra room for starts!

    Hooee! The fun begins in just a month or so. Many, many congrats!

    Hugs to you and your family,

  11. Jean says:

    I can’t believe that’s Ruby holding up a tray of potted seeds!

  12. That list pic..adore! And that sunroom, those windows…beautiful. Can’t wait to see more. xo

  13. Lizzy says:

    Love, love this post. I, too, want to get my garden going (now that the hubs and I will be in town for more than two weeks at a time this summer!). But the Minnesota weather is always a bit unpredictable (severe thunderstorms tonight).

    We started a lot early, but mostly tomatoes and peppers…so excited!

  14. Ellie says:

    Have not read the mamadigs yet, but just wanted to say that I LOVE that first picture of Ruby bending in the silvery grass.

  15. Amy says:

    I so *get* this – when the rainy snow hits, I am ready for it all to be gone. For no more jackets and a little vitamin d. Up here, when the temperature gets above zero, those that are brave (read: Canadian) enough bust out shorts and sandals. Its funny and crazy at the same time. It’s also funny because its true.
    The gardening pictures make me ecstatic – its coooooooming!!!

  16. Hazel says:

    I hear you. Although a Tasmanian winter is nowhere near as harsh as a Montanan one, the lack of light gets to me, every year I start to count down to when it will be light when we get home, then to when daylight savings starts. It’s fantastic in the peak of summer as it’s light til almost 10pm. But June is hard.
    Our vegetable garden is the last thing for us to do now, the hardwood timber has been cut to size, so as soon as it’s delivered we’ll put those 13 beds together and get planting. We can overwinter some vegetables, but hopefully we have some warm weather in April so that they get started.
    Rob has worked tirelessly on preparing our gardens, he moved tonnes of top soil that resulted from the earthworks from our big driveway and the hut site. He terraced our 16m x 36m garden with a shovel and a wheelbarrow.
    I just hope that very soon, he can relax a bit, and enjoy the harvest from all that hard labour!

  17. Kelle says:

    I am so excited about your home…to watch it slowly breathe Holt/Cline life. xo

  18. Kelly Cach says:

    You have good dreams; thanks for letting us in on them. I am a 4 seasons kind of gal, too. But I really do like your puffy coat photos…this one especially. I take note of the little things–like where your hands and fingers are……wrapped around little legs and entwined with tiny fingers. Sweetness. Now I must go do the same with my sweetie babes.

  19. Daniele says:

    Wow that sunroom and deck look amaze! We have had 80 degrees here for a week solid in Chicago! It’s going to be hard to go back to real life temps soon enough…makes me want to start planting something too but the rule is I have to wait till Mother’s Day weekend 😛 That’s funny you fell asleep but it’s true that your body knows what you need and when!

  20. Allison says:

    OMG…the views from your sun room and deck are amazing!!

  21. @Kelly, Yep, the hands and my feeling in that moment (that I didn’t know Andy was capturing) are the reason I picked that photo. :)

    Puffy coat photos are fab, can’t wait for bare arm photos!

  22. Love that you number your puffy jacket photos!

  23. Jaim says:

    Your new house looks so AWESOME! The sun room looks dreamy and I bet Alice will LOVE the sunbeams. It will feel like a palace the second you move in and claim it as your own.

    I really feel that March is a month that I could skip. It has been SO windy here which keeps us in, when I want OUT! Sometimes when I’m stuck inside I’m so cranky and knowing that a simple walk outside would help makes it worse. Then I close my eyes and dream of warm weather, swings, sand boxes, hide and seek(outside) and no wind and I know it will come and it helps.

    Here’s to some warm weather booty shakin’.

  24. FinnyKnits says:

    Oh Ay-men! I can’t wait for it in Norcal and we just have dreary rain. Soon – river dips! That sounds so awesome.