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Sep. 25th, 2017 06:33 am
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Posted by Brandy

In the misty, moisty Autumn air, 
Summer lingers still through mellow days, 
And light which glimmers gold and fair, 
Is dimmed and dulled by gentle veils of haze. 

I myself can clearly see 
How Autumn, soft and slow, is creeping. 
Summer gave herself to me 
And now departs for winter-sleeping. 

~In the Light of a Child :: Michael Hedley Burton


Landmarks

Sep. 22nd, 2017 05:52 am
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Posted by Brandy

We didn't know it then
But years later it would be these moments 
That would call us home 

 ~"Scent Memory" :: Tobie Wahl & Phoebe Wahl, as excerpted from Taproot 


I have mainly Autumn and Winter memories, I think.  And I have memories that stand out as Golden.  They sparkle, somehow.  I guess we all have these, and they are treasures.  There's that part of These Happy Golden Years where Mary decides to spend her Summer with a friend, and Ma talks about how it will be good for her to remember, years later.  She was right.


We hiked the Rowlands Creek Trail yesterday, with falls as our destination.  I hadn't walked this trail in such a long time that I can hardly remember when it was.  It's near my parents' home, so it was very accessible during my college years and I spent a lot of time on it.  Mike and I walked it together, but I think it was even before we were married.


I have memory of this place: covered in snow and the trees bending under the weight.  I walked it with another love, as we often have others in our lives.  Oh, it was magic.  The woods were so quiet and special and my heart is full, just thinking of it.  I am learning to say to myself that it is okay to have those magic memories and to love them.  They are all part of the path that led to where we are now and where we will go. 


The woods have changed now, as they do.  The hemlock woolly adelgid has killed nearly all of the big trees that once bent under that snow.  They are more open now, as the trees have decayed to the point of falling.  Plants that love sunny spots have taken up residence, like stinging nettle and goldenrod.  Even white pines have again begun growing in this once mature forest.


There came a Summer some time after that snowy walk, maybe a year later, when I walked that same trail to stave off the inevitable heartbreak that followed.  I think I could have walked every trail in the forest and still not found the end, but time passed and my own woods changed.  Now it seems like that life I used to know never happened, or is only a fuzzy memory.


The truth of these trails I share with my children, these walks we take in the deep woods and these windswept hillsides I drag them to, is that they are my life's story.  It has unfolded on these same paths, shaded by trees both old and new.  It has seen the flowers bloom and wither, the berries grow fat and ripe, and the land change while it stays the same.


All this sentimentality aside, we had a great time.  The walk was shorter than last week, a 3-mile round-trip.  We followed an old roadbed and railroad grade, the one that I guess carried out the giant hemlocks that once ruled these forests before the current generation fell to the adelgid.


The falls seemed different to me, less than those of my memories.  I guess little stones had piled up and made the area more shallow.  That, and it's the time of year when streams are naturally lower.  All the same, the children were thrilled with the icy cold waters that took our breath away.  We skipped rocks and made big splashes and sat watching the water as we had our lunch.


There were no snakes this time, except for the gummy candy ones I found at the grocery store.  We saw a toad and a salamander, which was just enough.  The mushrooms were vibrant and plentiful.  There were partridgeberries and teaberries galore.  And these berries from the Spring flowers.


Roan said the trail made him sad, as much as he loved the water.  I felt that way, too.  We came home and read a children's book about forest succession, so I could remind him that new trees will fill the gaps of the old ones.  It was the same story with the great American chestnuts, after all.  We saw some, in one of the forest gaps, still trying to grow.  Like this picture of Willow, our memories grow fuzzy, but we keep what we can and go on.  That is the way, isn't it?



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Posted by Brandy

The golden-rod is yellow;  
The corn is turning brown;  
The trees in apple orchards  
With fruit are bending down. 
 

The gentian's bluest fringes 
Are curling in the sun;  
In dusty pods the milkweed  
Its hidden silk has spun. 
 

The sedges flaunt their harvest,  
In every meadow nook;  
And asters by the brook-side 
Make asters in the brook.    


From dewy lanes at morning  
The grapes' sweet odors rise; 
At noon the roads all flutter  
With yellow butterflies. 
   
By all these lovely tokens  
September days are here,  
With summer's best of weather,  
And autumn's best of cheer. 
 

But none of all this beauty  
Which floods the earth and air  
Is unto me the secret  
Which makes September fair. 
 

'T is a thing which I remember;  
To name it thrills me yet:  
One day of one September 
I never can forget.   

~Helen Hunt Jackson, as taken from Enki Grade Two Poetry 
 


As I am lamenting the highs around eighty, I am trying to remember that this really is perfect weather for many folks.  It is, if you wish to avoid air conditioning, as we do.  We shut out the sun during keys times and blow in the cool air at night.  Breakfast porridge is welcome, and we start the day with sweaters, ending in bare legs and sandals, only to cozy up under comforters again at bedtime.

We went up to White Top day before yesterday, to see the sights, and feel some sixty-degree temperatures.  As you can see, the seasons shift at a different pace up there.  The leaves were on the trees scarcely four months before they blew away to their Winter's sleep.  The last of the Summer flowers are still hanging on, like the wee goldenrod, aster, and closed gentian. 

The other scenes are from my parents' home, where we are house sitting again.  It gets me out along the country roads every other day, which is so nice this time of year.  It is clear that things are changing ahead of schedule this year.  Fairwood Valley was certain not far from peak color when we drove to the mountain.  My parents' own little valley is not far off, as much as the warmth hangs on for another week.  The maple nearly bare of its leaves was surprising and the spotted jewelweed has called it quits.

People speculate about a hard Winter, as older folks often do.  I could use it, as I imagine other people could.  Ticks and colds and things like that need a good freezing.  It makes me feel so awake and refreshed to be out in the cold and snow.  I do like hibernating at home, but I love getting out into the wilder weather just as much or more.

Third Grade :: Week Two

Sep. 19th, 2017 06:48 am
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Posted by Brandy

This new school year has a different feel to it. I'm not sure I could say exactly what it is, but part of it is the feeling that the days move along more quickly now. Our pace hasn't increased, but we've been steadily busy and things feel happier.  Last Friday came and it felt like the week had hardly began.  It is so nice to feel like the easiest part of our days is school time, though I know this won't always be the case.  For now, I will enjoy it.


We finished up some house-building by making a very simple wattle structure beside the playhouse.  Many books from Floris books operate on the idea that one has hazel and willow available all the time.  That's simply not the case, the way we do things in the US, so it was a pleasant thing to find a big pile of green branches right by our driveway.  Our neighbors had cut down a privet (evil things that they are) and gave permission for us to take some.  It's always good to ask, even with unwanted things.  We used metal fence stakes and wove the branches to make a sort of fence.  It's simple, but Willow certainly enjoyed it.


This week, according to the Christopherus syllabus, we are doing math review.  I've recently purchased the Making Math Meaningful source book, and found in it the 105 math facts that everyone should know.  Third grade is a good time to practice these, so we have begun with that.  We used these lovely number cards, and we'll probably bring out the base ten blocks today.


Mike attended a music festival over the weekend as a birthday gift from his family, and he had a dozen water bottles left over.  Willow used these to do various sharing and giving away math questions.  She was so happy to do it!  We even had the chance to see what a remainder looks like when things don't divide evenly.  It was really encouraging to me.


And lastly, for now, our multiplication wheel arrived.  I had bought one with twelve points, but it seems nearly all exercises and instruction operate on a ten-point wheel.  So, I traded it in and I am so glad.  It makes lovely patterns, as you can see with the four times table.  I struggled, honestly, with how to bring times tables to Willow beyond Enki's clapping games.  I don't know that we are really "behind" on that skill, but there is always room for improvement.

And with that, another school day will soon begin, so it's time to scurry around before everyone gets up!

First Grade :: Week Two

Sep. 18th, 2017 04:14 pm
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Posted by Brandy

I don't know if I'll be able to keep up with the weeks all year long, but I like using this space for accountability and accounting. It is so nice to have a visual record of what we've been doing in our school times.   Lately, we've finished up our first form drawing block for first grade.


Laurel has joined in with Roan, mostly a bystander, as he has worked.  She has tried some of the forms, though I have not encouraged her, and she can make recognizable shapes.  Here, she's doing the sun, which combines a curved line and straight ones.


The container story from Lavender's Blue corresponds very well with the forms being taught.  It's possible to make an entire picture of the story using the forms--straight, curve, beehive, flight of the bee, mountains, parallel straight line, sun (missing here) and hills.


Roan's drawings have a very early first grade feel to them, as they should.  He had no interest in drawing for the longest time and very little interest in writing.  He shows great patience with both tasks, with a little encouragement.  I know he has felt so proud after accomplishing each picture.

I'll be back later with third grade things.  We're off to the library!
[syndicated profile] a_blessed_wilderness_feed

Posted by Brandy


I like to call long walks "expeditions" because there is the implication that we'll be in for a big adventure. I think that was the case this time!  We walked from my beloved childhood campground, Raccoon Branch, to the site of an old fire tower at 3,649 ft.  I've done this hike once before, the week that Hurricane Katrina made landfall twelve years ago.


It seems there are differing opinions on the length of this out and back trail.  My official guidebook says it's 2.3 miles one way, but I have read as much as 5.5 miles for the whole trip!  It felt pretty long to us, with the continuous climbing and the three snakes we saw sunning themselves.  I told the children this must be The Year of the Snake, as we have seen quite a variety.  I went years, maybe a decade, without seeing any.  We've had numerous conversations about safety as a result. 

We were so glad to make it to the top and settle in to cook lunch on my little Snow Peak GigaPower stove.  Ramen it was, of course, as that has been the family backpacking food for decades.  My dad would occasionally pack in steaks or Spam and I splurged on freeze-dried food, but Ramen has always been carried.  We had raisins, dried peaches, and Little Debbie fall cakes, too.  You have to have something like that to keep going, you know.


It was nice to rest on the ridge and, thanks to the wonders of modern living, you can see what we saw in this video.  The trail has had some improvement since then, but it is basically the same.  I love to imagine what the fire tower would have been like in its heyday.  There is a road to the tower and I would love to take it down (or up) some time to see what it is like.  I have tried to find it on maps, and I think I found it here (filing for my own records).


We took it to meet the trail at the saddle of the ridge, instead of skirting it and meeting up with that garter snake again.  The old road was luxuriously carpeted with moss and made us all so glad we had made the long trek to the top.  We sang songs on the way down, to keep up spirits, and we all admitted we were pretty tired and looking forward to sitting down.  Laurel, at three years and ten months, was the most intrepid of the hikers.  She said at one point she wanted to go to sleep in her carseat, but she took short rests and we made it down without any trouble.


Signs of Autumn were everywhere as we walked.  Goldenrod grew and bloomed in the sunny spots on the trail.  The wind howled around us as we crossed over ridges, and colorful leaves littered the ground.  There are still countless leaves waiting to fall over the next month, but we enjoyed picking up our favorites.  Acorns were everywhere, along with the occasional hickory nut (the bacon of the nut world), and dried oak galls were a dime a dozen.  Mushrooms had appeared at every turn, thanks to the rain we've had.  I guess those snakes were enjoying the perfect weather, too. 

Crafting On and On

Sep. 12th, 2017 05:26 pm
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Posted by Brandy

Oh, boy. I think I've been a little busy lately. Well, here comes the cavalcade of crafting!


Laurel got a new nightgown out of some really soft pink flannel.  I used Simplicity 1569, as usual, and added elastic cuffs.  It suits her so well.  Her face, well, I'm just glad she's not doing her usual withering stare.  Willow got a new nightgown, too, made out of a couple of king size pillowcases and one that was standard size.  The prints match pretty well, and she is pleased.  I am, too, since it felt very thrifty!


I completed a very special project and got it off in the mail today.  This sweet bunting doll is for a dear friend whose baby was born still earlier in the Summer.  She is meant to be a comfort to her four other children.


She has a small rice and lavender bag inside to give her some weight and a sweet smell.  I modeled her after this doll from A Toy Garden.  I'd been saving the velour for a special project and this was it.  We all gave her a hug before we sent her on her way.  She is so very huggable.


Lastly, some yarn things--that blasted bunny hat, as I have come to call it.  I crawled through the bunnies, sometimes just doing a row a day.  There are only fifteen rows!  I feel so silly.  Oh, well.  I'm going to get it done and feel better about it.

I've also started a giant granny square in Mandala, which is quite the craze in yarn, I hear.  I picked it up on a whim, since the colors are nice.  This will be for Laurel, I think, ever how big it turns out.

And with that, a roasted chicken will soon be calling my name.  For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams.
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