Every spring one of the big trees in our front yard produces beautiful pink-white blossoms. It’s quite breathtaking and one of my favorite things about the spring. Then comes summer and all those beautiful blossoms turn into thousands upon thousands of crabapples. I am not exaggerating! I would estimate a million crabapples are in the process of collecting on our roof and littering our yard. Getting crushed on our walkway, food for busy bees and squirrels, and a very fragrant addition to the compost bin.
Unfortunately for us there’s not much you can do with crabapples. Now, when life gives you lemons you can add some sugar and make lemonade, but what if life (or your tree) gives you crabapples? My neighbors have been stopping by as this year’s crop of crabapples has been pretty amazing and the topic of a neighborhood brainstorming session. The best we’ve come up with is crabapple jam and possibly cider (that could be a winner). Both options would require a lot of work. Lots of planning and steps required for both projects, lots of patience and lots of time. When remedying life’s crabapples you have to dig in and prepare for hard work, some planning and patience.
One of the positive sides of my abundant crop of crabapples is they have turned into a family affair. We’ve all taken our own role in helping manage what covers the ground. My children can earn $5 for every big, orange bucket they fill and they come up with some creative ways in filling that bucket – like using a rake to knock apples out of the tree and hoping they land into the bucket. I usually rake my crabapples into nice, tidy piles all over the yard. Then, with the help of my husband or children, we take turns raking them into a snow shovel and dumping them into the compost bin. My husband spends a couple of hours getting every last crabapple raked into one big pile and loaded into the bin. Many times, life’s crabapples can be too much for one person to handle and require the help of a partner, friend or family member. Just don’t be afraid to ask someone to hold the snow shovel for you.
The other lesson I learned about dealing with crabapples is to not let them build up. I found that if we worked on maintaining our crabapple crop every other day the job is shorter and more manageable. When I wait a week or even a few days, the apples are just way too overwhelming. They cover every inch of our yard and take me hours to rake up. When managing life’s crabapples it can be better to tackle them as they come instead of letting them build up. More manageable, less time consuming and a better peace of mind can help ease the pain of big problems.
When I am out raking I’ve noticed one last thing about our crabapples. They attract well-meaning spectators, advice-givers and helpers by the dozen. I’ve had people pull over in their cars and give me some tips on ways I can keep the crabapples from growing (hiring a company to spray a chemical) and neighbors have kept me company by sympathizing with my crabapple ordeal as I rake. And, then there are the helpers. One neighbor brought his own rake over and just jumped in and took over for me. We’ve even had a cheeky squirrel throw half-eaten crabapples on the ground as we raked, which provided us with giggles and smiles. There will often be the advice-givers and the spectators when life gives you crabapples but it’s the helpers who really make the ordeal seem not so bad.
And, let’s hope there’s at least one cheeky squirrel who can make you laugh through the pain.
OK – hear me out. This is not being written from a die-hard, tent-loving, “happy” camper. In fact, I really, REALLY prefer to sleep in a bed…in a house…with a shower…and, without bugs. So, every summer it’s with a little trepidation that I go camping. My extended family has been putting up tents and parking trailers at the same camping site since I was little so tradition summons me out of my comfort zone (literally) each year.
Now that my kids have joined the annual ritual, the expectation is as long as the ever-growing camping supply list. Which is where I will start on why we women need to go camping. If you fall in the uber-organized, ‘to-do’ listing category you are going to meet your match in preparing for camping! If you go for one night or for a week, you still need a carload of the same stuff. There’s the usual characters in a camping trip – you’ve got your tent, your sleeping bags, your bug spray. But, what if rains? What will you cook on? Wait, what will you cook? Oh, don’t forget the s’mores or the firewood or the toilet paper or the bottled water or the cookware. Oh, camping is to-do list heaven.
This last camping trip, I was so unorganized and way unprepared. I remembered to bring the blow-up, queen-size, air mattress and I remembered my little travel-size, make-up remover wipes but I didn’t bring a single thing to cook food on. Good thing I had my family to fall back on or we would’ve starved…or driven 20 minutes to McDonalds. Either way, as a Type-A planner, I was not planning for being unprepared and it was weird. I kinda felt that maybe I could survive even if not every detail was planned. Looking back at all of my “huh, how did I forget that” items I feel a little liberated. I feel a little more relaxed even. It was actually really great for me to be caught off guard and to have to just wing it.
So, here’s where I am going with why women should go camping. Now, I hate to stereotype women because we are all so different. However, almost every woman I know is extraordinarily busy. We all have responsibilities and activities that keep our days pretty crazy, and we all have varying ways we organize and plan to keep our sanity.
Camping provides a wonderful and unique opportunity to become unplugged and unorganized. For that span of camping time, showers become a luxury of your other life, as do toilets, and your entertainment is real conversation with campmates, a crackling campfire and the stars. No technology. No to-do list distractions.
And, camping gives us the rare chance to be creatively spontaneous. Because even if you think you’ve planned for everything Mother Nature has that way of keeping you on your toes. No list or spreadsheet can prepare you for a day of rain that strands you in your tent with only a pack of cards for entertainment. Being able to let go, embrace being unprepared and forget about your list of to-dos can be a real challenge for many women, me included. Every year, whether I love it or not, I am pulled away from reality and thrown into a bit of chaos. And, it’s wonderful.
Vela is all about fun and adventure!