I went to the woods….

I thought the sparrow’s note from heaven,
Singing at dawn on the alder bough;
I brought him home, in his nest, at even;
He sings the song, but it cheers not now,
For I did not bring home the river and sky;–
He sang to my ear, — they sang to my eye.
The delicate shells lay on the shore;
The bubbles of the latest wave
Fresh pearls to their enamel gave,
And the bellowing of the savage sea
Greeted their safe escape to me.
I wiped away the weeds and foam,
I fetched my sea-born treasures home;
But the poor, unsightly, noisome things
Had left their beauty on the shore
With the sun and the sand and the wild uproar.

Emerson

From “Each and All”

As you can see in the photo above of my drawing table, I (and all the kids I walk in the woods with) collect things to study and draw later.  Yes, it gives me more time, access to field guides, etc, but the spark of amazement seems to die a slow death the longer I am away from the woods.  I have to be in their environment, with them.  Three more weeks until I can get back to my woods.  Then trilliums, orchids, hepatica and bloodroot will all be up.  I will go to the woods, so that I may live.

Leave as you want to be

Grandmother’s painting of me, when I was 3.

I’ve been reading Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin and came across this quote by Elizabeth MacCrellish of Squam:  “Come as you are; leave as you want to be.”  While I know she was referring to their workshops, it made me think of my grandmother and wonder, we all come into the world with different gifts and hangups but how many of us can say we’re leaving the world as we want to be, happy with ourselves?

My grandmother had a list of things she wanted to accomplish.  Write a book.  Learn to paint.  Learn to play the violin.   She learned to paint after her kids were grown and even taught classes in her community.  She learned to use a computer so she could write her book when she was 75.  She didn’t manage to learn to play the violin, though she could play the piano and sing.  This is on top of raising 5 kids, caring for a house and husband, working outside of the home, and being very involved in church.

I’ve been trying to figure out how she did all of that?  I wish I could ask her.

This is what I’ve figured out so far.

Life stages.  By default not intention, I’m sure, her life was broken down into stages.  She didn’t do everything at once.  Reminds me of the Hindu life stages.  As a child, she was a student.  Then her duty was to her children and family.  Then, finally, she was able to paint, write and explore her world.  She was fortunate to be able to live long enough to do that.

Work happily, but not perfectly.  She enjoyed painting, writing and teaching, and wanted to do a good job, but she wasn’t hell-bent on perfection.  She was quite willing to make do as needed (I mean, really.  Dad remembers eating brown sugar and butter sandwiches.  She was not an uptight woman.)

Willing to be happy.  Sounds strange, but I think it’s actually very hard to simply accept being happy and enjoy it.  It’s easy to be happy when we’re walking on the beach and all the kids are behaving, but what about while we’re washing the dishes?

Looks like I have my list of things to work on.  Thanks, Grandmother.

Homeschooling Ourselves

The J Lane Hawk

The J Lane Hawk

Hurry, scurry

Worry, flurry

There go the grown-ups

To the office, to the store

Subway crush, traffic rush

No wonder

Grown-ups

Don’t grow up anymore

It takes

a lot

of slow

to grow.

Eva Merriam Jamboree Rhymes for All Times, quoted in Lucy Calkins Raising Lifelong Learners

We watched the neighborhood hawk for what seemed like an eternity today.  It was right outside our windows.  I wanted to watch, but kept thinking about all that needed to be done before nap.  I was thrilled to see it then wanted it to fly away so we could get back to work.  The King needed to finish his reading and writing, The Sage needed to finish making and cutting hearts.  It is hard to remember the need of not doing, the need of watching, the need to be slow.  As a grown-up, I’m still not grown-up and must remember that it takes a lot of slow to grow.