A Box of Old Letters

Rainy day.

I’m feeling nostolgic about how I used to communicate with far-away friends.

Also, I’m dreaming about writing a book based on correspondence. Letters. But would people actually be interested in reading letters written back and forth from two homeschooling mothers twenty years apart in age . . . ?

Conflict

The girls are helping me to create a photo for a friend who is working on a poster for a lecture about “Resolving Conflict.” As we are experimenting with silhouettes and expressions, I realize how much simpler it is to depict “conflict” than it is to depict “resolving conflict.” I’m pondering this as I edit the photos and send them off.

The following morning, the photos I have sent cause a conflict which follows me around the whole day. And I am left considering layers and layers of conflict.

Robin Mapping

It started with a question: how much territory does a pair of nesting robins like to have?

We came across the following information, and today Amabel started making robin map!

“Somewhere out there, a robin ‘calls’ your backyard its home territory. A robin’s territory — the place where mating and nesting occurs — is usually less than half an acre. Territories often overlap, perhaps because of the feeding grounds that neighboring robins share. If you think robins are everywhere, you’re probably right!

Robin Squabble Story

One summer a Minnesota woman had a pair of robins nesting in her backyard. A pair of robins also nested next door on one side of the yard and yet another nested on the other side of the yard. A fourth pair of robins nested in the yard behind hers. After a few territorial squabbles, the robins pretty much kept to their own yards for feeding. But this woman had the only birdbath on the block, so two of the neighboring pairs of robins started sneaking into her yard for drinks and baths. At first, the male and female robins who “owned” that territory spent a lot of time chasing the intruders away.

But when the female started incubating her eggs, she stopped chasing off the other females. The male chased off the other males until the babies hatched. Then he had to spend so much time searching for food for his nestlings that he stopped chasing off the other robins — unless they started exploring beyond the bird bath. As long as the neighbors flew directly to the birdbath along the shortest possible line from their territory, he left them alone. But if they veered off that path for just a few seconds, he charged the birds!

For several weeks, the woman observed where each robin spent the majority of its time. She noted where each robin could range and be ignored by the others, and where each was when disputes took place. This information gave her a clear picture of each robin’s territory. She could have drawn a simple map with each territory outlined.

Activity: Map A Robin’s Territory

Observe your own robins and see if you can map their territories! Here’s how:

Begin by drawing a map of a small part of your neighborhood. Mark in the trees, bushes, houses, fences, and other things that robins might notice. Mark any robin nests you find.

Use this map to study the robins in your neighborhood for a week or two. Give each robin a letter, number, or symbol. See if you can start to recognize different individuals and notice where each spends its time.

Mark a bird’s letter, number or symbol in the right spot on your map every time you see that bird. Do the robins spend more time in some areas than others? Can you draw territorial boundaries on your map based on where the various robins spend their time?”

(All information from: www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/robin/TerritoryStudy.html)

Beautiful Dreamer

Our beautiful dreamer.

I’m spending more time in June writing and less time taking photographs. I feel a bit like this beautiful sleeping baby: resting in the afternoon air — closing my eyes to the vibrant patterns of light and travelling within.

It’s a bit of a mystery, isn’t it? What lies within a little sleeping soul?

Challenge

One of the questions I’m living with right now is this:

“Is she being met with enough challenge?”

A wise mother friend suggested to me this week that I may not need to be responsible for bringing the challenge to her; instead, my daughter may actually seek it out.

She has crossed a certain threshold where her own bravery and strength will help her find what she needs to thrive.

40 :: American History

Studying American history feels especially significant at this moment in time: the Declaration of Independence; our three branches of federal government; separation of powers; the Constitution of the United States of America.

Do these documents, these ideals, still serve us? How are they being tested today?

39 :: Watching Sister

For a long time
I let those thoughts occupy me —
you know those thoughts
that say
“Your kids will be awkward if they don’t go to school.”

Those thoughts that come from nowhere
and everywhere
so pervasive and strangely persuasive.

And yet,
how do they know,
those thoughts?
How can anyone say,
with conviction,
that schools help us to be less awkward?

Well, maybe they do teach us how to fit in.
But fit in to what exactly?

18 — 22 :: Go Dark

Amidst a great deal of talk about our country this week: the transition in leadership; the grace of President Obama as he left office; the inaugural address; what it means to be trustworthy; the importance of our words; the value of integrity and respect . . . While all the while wondering what we can do, in our relatively quiet part of the world, to reach out to our neighbors . . . there was a whole lot of quiet work (and play) happening in our home.

January feels very dark. Not just this year, but especially this year, I feel a heaviness that I cannot shake. I do not know if I should try harder to shake it or try to sit with it. But when I sit here, trying to enter in, fully, to the weight of this darkness, I find myself simultaneously celebrating life — life and the joy that is so very present in each day shared with our beautiful children. Their curiosity. Their wonder. Their questions. Their pureness of heart. This is light.

I think of this poem by Wendell Berry (forgive me if I have quoted this recently. It has really been on my mind.)

To Know the Dark

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry, Counterpoint, 1998: p. 68.

Did Wendell Berry march in the Woman’s March yesterday (or would he have in his younger days)?
Does he outwardly protest? Or inwardly? Or both?
Does he speak out in body? And on paper?
In the light? Or in the dark?

366 :: The Last Photo of the Year

Can this be the last photo of 2016?

But wait! I’m not feeling ready to stop this daily photography practice. I have been so encouraged Jenny Stein’s 365 group on flickr, as well as my readers here on the blog — and I’ve learned so much about photography this year. Sharing photos and words most every day has nourished my inner life during this full season of mothering and homeschooling, and I want to keep the momentum going. I haven’t yet settled on a project for 2017, but I’m certainly going to continue in some fashion.

Tell me, what personal creative projects have you committed to for the new year? I’d love to hear your project ideas (photography as well as other pursuits). Thank you so much for your encouragement, family and friends — near and far! And Happy New Year!