ohio

WE BOUGHT A HOUSE + A DOZEN DONUTS

 
rosemary child puts her hands in the soil image by samantha spigos

You know my grandma’s red brick house in town that we have been living in for just under two years? The house where our daughter was born, and where I have a great view of the hardware’s red clog sign? That house. We bought it. My grandmother’s house has become our house, if it wasn’t already. How many years we will live here, I can nary say. The dream of land and farm is hardly gone, but for now our dreams are right here in town. I sense the farm dream is more realistic for buying this house, not less. If you have been following along for a few years (bless you), you know Mark’s and my desire to tend land and livestock. You know that we used to farm together in Vermont, and that we tried and valiantly failed at buying a farm of our own last autumn. So to write with sincere enthusiasm that we bought a house that opens its door onto Main Street and boasts a mere 1/4 acre backyard might seem funny. It is. Life is funny.

new spring growth by samantha spigos
rosemary puts her hands in soil and crocuses image by samantha spigos

On Rosemary’s first birthday in January, Mark was playing with her on the upstairs landing while I sat on the steps below, looking around and reflecting on the hours of her birth. I can recall the exact Aha! moment that I looked up the stairwell and said, “Maybe we should buy this house.” I said ‘maybe’ but had pretty conclusively determined that it was Just Exactly What We Should Do.

The process was smooth and timely, very unlike the fevered rush to buy that farm. (Let me just put out into the universe right here that I think we still might buy that farm, someday, some way.) I want to share everything with you — how affordable this is for us; how excited we are to have the white fence installed (don’t worry, it’s low) and to plant our garden beds; how we are stripping wallpaper and painting rooms to look like spring lilac and golden yellow sunbeams; how two apple trees are soon to set roots in this soil; how we want to grill you dinner and invite you into this small, abundant home that has nurtured us deeply.

We store our wooden spoons in a crock that my grandma painted when she was practicing painting clear cylinders. It’s sturdy and aging with a delicate motif—just like her, just like this house. A blog post hardly does justice to what is a rich storied house that we are delighted to be adding our family’s imprint to. The first property title that we have record of is Martha Haney in 1889. After Martha, every title belonged to one of our family members. We are the fourth generation to own it — surely there will be more to unpack and share on this space. Over time, slowly and without concern for When and If and How the future will look, we’re giving this red brick house a go.

crocks filled with wooden spoons by samantha spigos
buttermilk sour cream donut by samantha spigos
box of cake donuts by samantha spigos

But about the donuts . . .

Mark and I met in Columbus, Ohio during our second year of college. We fell hopelessly in love rather quickly, just a week before school ended for the year and I moved north for a summer internship. A very vivid flavor of those earliest summer love days is the fried cake donut from a landmark shop near campus, Buckeye Donuts. Nostalgia makes anything taste better, but theirs are objectively very good donuts. Having not had them since graduating school, Mark brought home a dozen from his quick work jaunt to the city. Having these around feels an apropos celebration of where we’ve been and where we’re at. And if you are asking yourself, “can they really polish off a dozen donuts before they go stale?” Absolutely we can.


—S

COOKIE DAY + THE CHRISTMAS TREE CHOP

 
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There are a few days every year that I look forward to most, Cookie Day and the Christmas Tree Chop among them. Saint Lucia Day is joining the ranks—I can feel it. This blog is becoming a little chronicle of the aforementioned traditions, and like a creature of habit I look forward to documenting and writing about this year's. Annual days like these mark the passage of time yet maintain the patina of well-worn tradition, and I for one need that dichotomy. In a whirling, swirling season (and year!) surely it's essential that we keep a few things constant, slow, and sacred.

Cookie Day has happened every year for 21 years! Certain years there are special guests who throw aprons on and lean into the spirit of frosting and sprinkles (you will walk away with a blue tongue and a stomachache; it's just a fact, people.). Other years there are just 3 or 4 of us. Ever constant are Fran and Cindy, lifelong best friends and Cookie Day Foundresses. We are trending upwards in numbers as a whole gaggle of children join the Cookie Force. All the little ones present this year are Montessori-educated, which showed in their deliberate care in rolling dough and cutting shapes. (It should be noted that they also deliberately snuck so many bites of cookie dough that I was sure they themselves would morph into cut-out cookies. Self-control is tough when there are 200 cookies on the table.) I would be remiss to not mention my grandma's absence. We missed her palpably. Her dear sister, my Great Aunt Posie, joined us and filled the air with the gentle joy the Engle sisters were decidedly known for.
// [Peek 2015 + whoops, I guess I never posted the photos from 2016]

And the Christmas Tree Chop! It's only our fourth year—practically infancy—and I suspect the cost of trees increased at our local tree farm, but it is no less a favorite tradition. Hot chocolate and coffee must accompany, and ten to twenty trees need be deliberated over before settling on The One. Brother Zach always cuts it down, and generally one child cries. It's a little bit chaos, a lotta bit festive. 
// [Peek 2015 + 2016]

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—S

PHOTOS FROM AFIELD | OHIO AUTUMN

 
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bouts
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During our time as Instagram-aholics, it was common practice to fall asleep while scrolling through our own profiles, mindlessly scanning the same photos over and over and over again on small, illuminated screens. Engaging in social media definitely made us more savvy with cameras; maybe we even saw the world with more of an artistic eye. No two ways about it—our camera rolls are chock full of accidental photos of our feet and dimly lit shots of our cat looking ugly. But we read before bed now so, in the grand scheme of things, a junky photo roll ain't so bad. (Sam is reading Mary Poppins, and Mark 1Q84. One of us has pregnancy brain and thus appreciates a book written for small children.)

This collection of photos, taken in Autumn, comes from our phones and proves (to us, at least) that not all artistry is lost in a sans-social media life. Here's a bit of what we've been up to, really:

Leaning deeply into becoming Ohio people. She grows the baby and knits for shim, he does the odd jobs: tending bar at one uncle's island restaurant, re-seeding another uncle's lawn, changing fuses on the archaic fusebox at Grandma's House. We have logged thousands of miles in our aging Subaru driving around the state for work and for school and for play. Columbus boasts family time, old haunts, and illuminating & introspective lessons courtesy of Farm School. (It's been fun—oddly romantic, even—to exercise our academic muscles together, while doing A Very Adult Thing in writing a business plan for our future farm.) Cleveland offers fresh bagels, Thai food, our sisters, and the chance to remark on how there are young people everywhere. It's enlivening! In what is surely an effort to reacquaint ourselves with this mighty state, we hike—slowly, so slowly—around the preserves and wild spaces of our state. So far Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Holmes County have inspired us most acutely, illuminating our proclivity for rolling hills. (Note to selves: find and buy the farm on rolling land.) 

Some days, it feels as though we've been swept up in a leaf storm—pulled in different directions, quite literally, and trying to get our bearings about us. But sometimes the crisp autumn air stills itself, and we can see clearly just how blessed we are to be home again. 

7 months
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—M&S

A DIFFERENT CADENCE

 

The heat broke. After what seemed an interminable spell of humidity and heat for us northern dwellers, the heat broke and a cool wave washed over the valley. Mid-fifties cool. I was jumping up and down for joy in our kitchen, literally, because cold weather energizes me in a way that always has me wondering if somewhere in me there is Scandinavian blood. If it seems like we write about the weather a lot, it's because A) as people managing a farm we spend a huge amount of the day analyzing radars and guessing what the sky will do, and B) weather is everything! To a farmer, at least. And to a pregnant woman, definitely. And I am both. Pregnant and farming; Farming and pregnant; With child; Expectant; and Moving Home.

We have a mere week left, more or less, of this cadence we've known and abided for as long as we can remember. Not quite two years on this farm, but all we can remember. We have lived, worked, slept, awoken, eaten, napped, and toiled together, every single day, for all these months. And for the last several months, we've done so alongside a growing human on the inside. This summer has been a beautiful season in our marriage and our hardest season on the farm. Balancing what I can no longer do physically on the outside with what I am physically doing on the inside has been a game of gratitude, patience, and grace. We are both bewildered with fascination and awe over something as miraculous as this—the creation of another human being, complete with fingernails and veins and and a beating heart—transpiring in our marriage. 

I am having a hard time smattering together a blog post that touches on our new reality of "parents-to-be who are leaving their jobs to move back to the Midwest so they can be near family and hopefully find fulfilling work until they buy a farm but if not then Oh Well because Life Is More Than Work." But, in my head, all I can think is: hot damn, sex created a human that is half-me, half-Mark!?!?! We movin' home! We don't have to milk at 5:30 in the morning and clean out barn floods anymore! We can focus on ourselves and our baby and our families and not the welfare of 200 animals, if only for a time! Our parents can cook us meals again! We can cook our parents meals again! And on and on. Despite the occasional worry that creeps in (you know, the What If This and How Will We That) I am not afraid for our uncertain future. I am cloaked in armor, especially if armor can be a soft washed linen quilt and a bouquet of wildflowers. I wear a breastplate of marital love that entwines itself more securely all the time. My helmet, a big family awaiting us in Ohio. My shield, unwavering faith in a God who I know has got this one in the bag. I am all good. Mark is all good. Baby is all good. 

Cheers to continuing on the journey that never halts. Like a little bumble in a field of dandies: Ever onward!


—S