By Rachel Womelsduff Gough

RACHEL WOMELSDUFF GOUGH and her family ditched the city for a patch of earth in the Snoqualmie Valley, lovingly named The Birch Path. Cheered on by her husband and two blonde babes, Rachel learns by getting her hands dirty, whether it’s gardening, chicken farming, canning, neighboring, or adventuring with soulmates in wild places. She reads constantly and can’t live without coffee, flowers, and classic mystery stories. She writes at kindredmag.com.

These are a few of my favorite things

egg nog with nutmeg (and rum, let’s be serious) kids eating sugar until they’re delirious meeting under mistletoe for marital flings these are a few of my favorite things red velvet ribbons and garlands of cedar wreaths on the door as a festive guest greeter paperwhite bulbs forced to bloom out of spring these are…

There’s no one here but me

It’s sunny but cold enough to see our breath. I stand behind my two children as we wait for the school bus, and I watch them puff steam from their mouths into the bright air, their towheads thrown back and their lips like funnels. Their backpacks are identical except for the colors. They chose them…

All the time in the world

There are two clocks on the wall of the dimly lit hospice room. Neither of them shows the correct time. There are two beds, but only one is occupied. My grandpa looks old but also child-like, lying there with oxygen cannula in his nose and a blanket tucked under his chin. His wife feeds him…

Group dynamics

When my writing group started nearly seven years ago, it was an open group. Everyone who knew of it through word of mouth was welcome to meet at Shari’s diner on Monday nights for timed writes and sharing aloud. Each week it was a slightly different group as one person decided it wasn’t a good…

Do something unexpected

When my mother was young,  she was a somewhat apprehensive kid, afraid to try new things, on the shy side, easily hurt. She didn’t like to get dirty or touch bugs and animals. But when she was 12 years old, she saw the movie In Search of the Castaways, and everything changed. In the movie…

House plant barometer

Rhythms of work and rest are vital to our physical, mental, and spiritual health, but when you’re a parent there’s no break from the day-to-day care required. Parenting is a demanding job. You have to keep tiny humans alive every day while being nurturing and providing educational enrichment. There’s a lot of pressure on parents…

Better together

When you grow up in a religious family, unless you have parents who actively model and discuss otherwise, chances are you’ll internalize the implicit and sometimes explicit message that men are better suited for leadership, women should be submissive, and all will be well. This is only reinforced by popular culture, but in a religious…

Practices of community

I regretted it as soon as the words were out of my mouth. People started to stare at me, but instead of calming down or apologizing I kept shouting angrily, frustration mingling with embarrassment. Here I was, a grown woman, yelling at a grocery store employee because a sign taped to the credit card machine…

Motherhood vignette

My four-year-old son is having a rough day. His cardboard box spaceship wing broke, and his valiant efforts to repair it with packing tape are foiled when I see the tangled wad of sticky waste and tell him I’ll help him finish in the morning. His eyes fill with tears and his voice gets squeaky,…

Reverse the polarity!

Every definition of the word ‘invest’ involves money, time, or elevated meaning. It’s a rich word with long-term connotations, the opposite of our fast-paced, instant gratification, Altar of Convenience culture and its consequences. To invest is to resist, to rebel against the zeitgeist. And in this polarized political climate, it might be what saves us.…

Make me feel important

“WILL YOU SNUGGLE with me mommy?” my six-year-old daughter calls from her top bunk. “Me first!” says my four-year-old son from the bottom. My daughter always wants me to linger so I crawl into bed with my son. “Whaddya wanna talk about? Dinosaurs?” he asks, his small, strong arms wrapped around my neck. “You go…

Wild mind

“The more civilized man becomes, the more he needs and craves a great background of forest wildness, to which he may return like a contrite prodigal from the husks of an artificial life.” —Ellen Burns Sherman This summer I did three backpacking trips in five weeks. I keep wondering what it is that propels me…

The value of failure

I used to use beginnings as a clean slate, a chance to start fresh and set goals. New Year’s resolutions, a new school year, even the first day of the month would be an opportunity to get my ducks in a row and attempt some new routine, but every time I would inevitably fail almost…

Let us tend our own garden

Recently I met two young women farmers who are the granddaughters of farmers. Their own parents ‘escaped’ from farming with the idea that they were providing a better life for their children, but those children found their way back to their roots anyway. There is something deeply satisfying about cultivating the earth, planting seeds and…

It starts and ends with caring

Some friends and I went camping last weekend, and as we were setting up the canopy my friend’s forehead brushed some stinging nettles. She immediately started to feel a prickling sensation on her skin, but before 30 seconds had passed she found a fern and rubbed it on her forehead. The stinging stopped. The sickness…

Radical locatedness

I came across a striking quote recently: “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” C.S. Lewis wrote those words in The Weight of Glory, and, no matter one’s religious persuasion, it would be difficult to deny that his statement has zing. What would it look like…

Speaking up is costly

One of the most painful experiences of high school came at the hands of my friends. The four of us—two boys and two girls—spent the hot Phoenix summer before junior year together doing nearly grown up things: Eating lunch at The Olive Garden and driving home through the desert at night listening to Matchbox 20…

Adventuring together

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” —John Muir On a rare sunny Saturday in February, my little family sloughed off its cozy winter sedentariness and donned trail shoes and day packs for a hike in the forest.…

Parenting is an extreme sport

After I graduated from high school, my mom shared that she had cried herself to sleep every night during my senior year. I was angry that we had moved away from my childhood home in Phoenix to a soulless suburb of Seattle, and I acted out in typical but relatively harmless ways—smoking cigarettes on the…

Out of the mouths of babes

My five-year-old daughter awoke from her nap still warm and rubbing the sleep from her eyes. She climbed onto my lap as I sat at my desk, trying to muster the energy and creativity to write something. She asked if she could help, so I told her I needed to write something involving the word…