Sunday, April 21, 2013

Nettled

Stinging Nettles and Red Admiral chrysalis. June 19, 2012
Last year I harvested nettles and found this chrysalis on the foliage. Nettles are a host plant for the red admiral caterpillar. 

Once our son was asleep for the night, Jared remarked, "I'm so glad we don't have a 'bad' kid. I don't think I could do this every day."

Amen. Today was rough. Today always starts with yesterday's events - a two hour nap lead to a 10:30 p.m. bedtime last night. And so:

 This morning's wake up call is a full diaper and a very whiny child - perhaps because of the full diaper which I smelled before dawn and was unable to rouse myself to do anything about except note the smell and fall back asleep. Whining continues through breakfast.

After chores, we drive out to Hunterdon county. We pick up dumplings in Sergeantsville and head to our nettles picking spot. Jared takes the pork bun and the cranky kid to the creek, while I pick nettles. They sting my hands - a sort of burning feeling that will give way to an icy-hot feeling an hour later. Several hours hence my hands will itch. And then, they tingle as though tiny bees roil beneath the skin's surface. A day after nettles picking, I might have small, painful blisters than form beneath the skin. Jared calls me 'macho' about picking nettles.

Along the trail, Beren picks up sticks, which he called "hoses" and used to spray "pants" (plants). He charges around the preserve, a bit hell-bent, a bit of a bad listener. He reels into patches of poison ivy and nettles.

Jared points out nettles to Beren, and says, "They sting. We eat them cooked. Those are the herbs Momma tells you to sprinkle on your bagel. Momma picks them. Only Momma knows how to pick them." He's right, I am macho about the stinging, but nettles are a preventative for arthritis, which runs in my family. Nettles have formic acid, histamine, and serotonin. Sting away. Well, sting me, but please leave the cranky kid alone.

We provide ample snacks and a new (hand-me-down) book for the car ride. We visit multiple bodies of water, including the Delaware - at which we see a boat embark and disembark. One even features a dog. Nothing takes the edge off our tired child.

We stop at a high-end artisanal market and met a family we knew. "We're in search of a treat. We have a cranky kid," I say.

"Yes, we have one of those, too. Sleepover party last night," the father says. Their son, obviously bored with the adult conversation, turn a cellophane wrapped brownie over and over in his hands.

We roam the market and settled on ice cream and sorbet. We purchase one cup to share - a healthy and delicious serving costing five dollars.

On the ride home, Beren requires a parent in the backseat. I read stories to him and chatter away. Like a native speaker to a foreigner, I turn up my volume when he protests his seatbelt. "Out, out!" he cries. "Oh! Look at that TALL TREE. BEREN, LOOK AT THE STREAM OUTSIDE THE WINDOW!" I nearly shout.

Once home, Jared leaves to bring tea and soup to a sick family member. He has been making daily, sometimes twice daily, visits since Friday. "I'll be back by 5:30," he says. The ride is 30 minutes each way. He'll stop at the greenhouse. He'll brew teas, feed the dog and chickens, and comfort his sickly charge. No way he'll be back that soon.

I turn to Beren who is sprinkling Cheerios on the carpet. I let him know it's not ok. To bridge the difficult late afternoon into dinnertime hours (always the worst with a tired kid), we vacuum and bathe.  Beren slips on the bathroom floor. He lands on his back.

He's now hungry. Dinner is leftover chicken, miso soup, and noodles and spaghetti sauce. He sits on my lap. Hummus and carrot sticks are also on the table. Carrots end up in Beren's cup. Soup splatters down his chest. He pees on my lap. No diaper, my fault, but we're reverting here. I run to the bathroom, and he dribbles a bit into the potty. Not a total reversion.

Back at the dinner table, we extract peas from the soup and dip them into the spaghetti sauce. He migrates to his own chair. He falls off his chair onto the side of his head. He cries. I murmur comforting sounds. We eat chicken. When is Jared coming home?

Dinner is finished, and so we play with animal figurines. Beren pees on the floor and stomps in the puddle. You might wonder...but, have you recently diapered a tired, cranky two and a half year old with a truly independent streak lately?

We read stories. Beren asks to nurse. I ask if he can wait until bedtime. He asks again. I ask again. He nurses. When he breaks his latch, he tosses his head back and hits the edge of the side door with his temple. He asks to nurse again. I rub his head. How about another story?

Jared bumps down the lane at 6:30. He is hungry, so I scrape the remainder of dinner onto a plate for him. "Did you guys eat? Is this all for me?" he asks.

That's how nettley today was.

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