We’ve been moving for the past week and a half. I have brown paper boxes dancing through my head at night. Flip the top, peer inside.
At first, I was very good and labeled everything, but that was when I was packing the easiest of things: books and books and books, fabric, yarn. Stackable things. Bricks of food: cereal, canned soup, sacks of flour. These things were easy to unload too; as long as order was kept going in, order was kept going out.
We’ve now reached that terrible part of moving where the sofa and beds and the like have been moved out, and now we discover all the little trinkets that were scuffed beneath. We have two large dogs, and two large dogs leave behind large dust tumbleweeds, ones we could felt together to make a comfortable pouf. Our garage and basement look as if, perhaps, an earthquake jumbled up all the contents without damaging the surrounding structure. Moving while maintaining two mortgages is a bit more leisurely, but probably inadvisable for a number of reasons, most of which involve those terrifying dollar signs, but also have something to do with puttering and goggle’d eyes.
The past two days have been mostly about throwing things into emptied boxes and getting them out. So now I open one up in our new home only to shut it again. No, I don’t know, can’t face it. The first few days in the house, we had moved the most important things, the things that make up the centers of us, so things unfolded fairly neatly, and now we’ve got the little extra bits, the mismatched socks, but it’s good for the soul of the home to have a good shake-up like this. Eventually, things make their way into the donation bins and the house gets trimmer.
Before anything was moved into the house though, I wanted to move some of the most important symbolic objects we have: in my hands, in the above photograph, is a repotted seedling from the maple tree we planted in our backyard not too long after we moved in. That maple was to replace the one our dog gnawed a ripe wound into, and this one stuck. And grew and grew and grew, and our daughter loved, loved climbing in it. And for a girl who isn’t always as graceful tethered to the earth (she shines in the air and water), a good climbing tree is awfully important. So we gathered this one, and later, two more, of its babies and planted them in three spots in the front yard, and I hope one of them takes. It’s a tough time of year to transplant, especially little twigs like these, but we’ll pack some oak leaves around them for warmth, and hope for the best. We also transplanted my grandmother’s hostas, and they looked awfully unhappy at the uprooting, so I may have made the wrong choice in bringing them along this time of year, but when her dahlia bulbs refused to push through the earth this summer, I had to bring this part of her with me.
She’s gone now, about a year ago this time. We went to her home on the lake every year for Thanksgiving for a good while, and this is our first we stayed in Minnesota, and the first we ever hosted. The first thing we cooked in our oven was the turkey!
I started to keep a kitchen journal this past weekend too. I was inspired by another maker’s recipe diary, in which she kept notes of things she’d tried and adaptations, and I thought, with my narrative urges, why not make it a little bit more journal-ish? Before my parents left this evening, they wrote a little something on the menu page, and my daughter drew a turkey and some corn and a pumpkin (which reminded her of a tiger, so she drew that too, along with a seedling being watered), and we have our first entry towards more purposeful consuming in this home.
Since losing my grandmother, evidence of life—handwritten notes, knit objects, recorded music—has felt so central to me. I started keeping a diary again, writing my way out of a dark period in my life and into new hope, which has included a new career and now this, our new home, a building that we hope will be the place my children become young adults and we will grow just a bit older in.