We’ve decided to homeschool again this year. (We homeschooled for three years when the girls were younger, and they’ve been in public school for the past two years.) I can barely contain my excitement! Seriously, I have to keep pinching myself.
But I have moments when doubts creep in. There are things school can provide that we cannot. The teachers are so experienced and the children have a whole community surrounding them at school. Our girls have gained confidence at school simply by learning within a bigger group. Will we be “holding them back” by keeping them home?
We have plans, of course, for choir and piano lessons, nature school, friends, extended family, and homeschool groups. So, that is one sort of answer. And when I have doubts, it helps to remind myself of our plans.
But, there is a bigger reason for our homeschool decision. There are things that we can provide that school cannot: family closeness, days outside in wild places, hours reading aloud together, and the space to pursue creative projects. And let us not forget this baby here. We have him. We have this moment in time, this chapter of life, to be together. Our girls have years and years to be in school. But this little boy will grow up and won’t be happy to bounce along on his sister’s back for much longer. So for now we’re at home, together. And I am so grateful.
His sense of humor is pretty much the best.
As August draws to a close, we gather a rainbow of vegetables from the garden, and I take stock and give thanks. For the abundance of this little patch of earth we call home, we are so very grateful.
Our box of seeds arrives in January when the world is white and dark and cold. We plant the seed babies when summer still feels very far away and nurture the seedlings along with special care during those early weeks. We transplant them into the ground, covering them with plant blankets and hoping for the best. At first they look so fragile and so small. But then, often overnight it seems, they burst forth into fullness and surpass our garden dreams.
We give so little in comparison to what they produce. Every single year this amazes me — just to watch them grow.
I’m looking at this beautiful wild land from the road, noticing how it stretches out and turns into forest, effortlessly. This is a farm, farmed so thoughtfully as to allow the natural world and the cultivated world to coexist side-by-side. Our farmer friend, Ben, has taken time to come to know this land and raise animals here with sensitivity.
We are grateful to be one of the families nourished by this place — nourished by the food Ben raises and also by his ethic in caring for the land.
Oh, Sally, it is so good to see you.
The way you talk about babies is so refreshing and life affirming.
“When babies look at you, they really look at you. And then when they smile — well, that is just about the nicest thing there is.”
My favorite part was walking back together, through the woods, in the deep darkness.
I see you sitting
in a tree
and calling out to me.
You want to be sure
I see you —
and I see the place you have reached.
You want to be apart
* * *
Now you are far away.
I cannot see you
or the tree in which you’ve built your nest.
I hear only stories
You say you have found
someone to be your witness there.
But I hear a voice telling you where to place each foot,
directing you so loudly —
the sound travels across the continent.
And I remember,
the way you knew how to find your own way
into the tree tops
as a child.
* * *
Your tree still grows
and you will find your familiar seat,
deep within its branches.
Illuminated by pink clouds.
They are playing in the swampy edge of the dune pond where the pollywogs live.
It’s bedtime but they don’t want to leave.
I don’t either, really.
I want to stay in overcast August evenings on the beach
with the smell of white pines and summer sand,
and the sound of our children
completely immersed in the wild.
Painting in our nature journals has become a treasured weekly ritual. This focused hour or two of gathering, sketching, and painting slows me down. I find myself noticing not only the details in the plants, insects, and other bits of nature we collect — but also noticing the girls and their patterns of learning.
It is such a simple exercise: sketching and painting what we find. But, not unlike my 365 project, the intention that I bring to the work makes it something greater.
“Sometimes the actual depth of your approach to a thing will be what coaxes the thing to honor that depth and yield more to you.” — John O’Dononhue