My favorite quote (well , one of many) is:
Never be within doors when you can rightly be without--Charlotte Mason
So off I went in search of everything I could find. I went to a large conference in KY. I purchased books, like the Charlotte Mason Companion and listened to pod casts from A Delectable Education and quite frankly I fell in love. With short lessons and a 1/2 school day I was hooked. Our morning is spent in lessons of Ancient History, Literature, Shakespeare, Math, Grammar, etc. Then our afternoons are filled with occupations and handicrafts such as "chores" and paper folding, painting and Nature Study. Nothing is longer than 30 minutes and Cora loves it. Actually, Cora is thriving. I am not supposed to brag...but the other day she recited a bit of her favorite poem from Robert Frost, completely from memory. I cried. She laughed at me. I cried some more. Here is the poem: Birches by Robert Frost. I cry when she shouts out, " I am getting it Mom! " when she does her math. Perhaps I need to invest in some tissues for the schoolroom :)
But the biggest challenge has been doing a daily nature study, which requires us to go outside for at least a good bit of the afternoon. Cora is not the problem. I am. I have been very lazy and we started off our first term with , ahem, indoor nature study. We observed the squirrels in our yard, we have tracked the growth of an avocado plant that Bryan has grown. I just did not want to go OUT. I am a bit of a hermit crab...:)
BUT I became bold this second term and with a challenge put out from my Charlotte Mason study group, I looked to see how I could integrate MORE outside time and nature study for the family. I chose to take 1/2 days on Wednesday for Cora and I (and Dad too if the job permits) to go "tromping" in the woods, the shores or the mountains.
Our first Wednesday was a flop, she woke with a stomach ache and a head ache...
But our second Wednesday I let her determine the time we would leave, what to bring (binoculars, Swiss army knife, bug spray, snacks and canteens) and where we would go.
She chose Northwest River Park. So off we went.
Two hours later, and a back pack less heavy since we ate all our snacks and drank most of our water we exited the woods of NWRP happy and laughing. We had ambled through about 3 miles of trails. We saw deer tracks, duckweed, danced in mud puddles, sat on perilous logs over the river (she did) , climbed ridges and shouted "I'm the queen of the forest" (again Cora) and came down so fast that she nearly took out a small tree or two. I showed her to slow down and LOOK down. Moss. My favorite joy as a child, I would pull it up and play with it like carpet for my tiny figurines. I showed her how springy it is, she lay her head on it and proclaimed "I love it, I need a pillow made from Memory Moss!". We decided that all the cool squirrels must have Memory Moss pillows and beds. Later we found a bigger patch and she laid right down on the trail and put her head upon it. I thought, "I hope no one walks up on us, with her laying prostrate on the ground and me standing over her with a large walking stick!"
She could not get enough of it and laughed when she stood up with leaves in her hair. I tried to remove them, but she said, Leave them there. Get it! :)
We made our way to the Northwest River and the wind must have been blowing about 40 mph. Cora and I went to check out a tree with a large hole chipped out. As she climbed she said I knew there was a reason to climb this tree. There are more holes up here Mom. Sure enough, there were. Someone was building a condo! We admired the river for a while, walked on the dock and decided to turn back to try another route on the map.
Onward we moved to another trail, where we found a large tree cut down. The stump still intact. I told her find out how old that tree is. She sat down to count the rings, 61 years old! She laid across the trunk and played with the saw dust that surrounded it and said how good it felt. I remember many days of playing with sawdust under my Dad's saw horses as he created things out of wood. Sawdust is still one of my favorite smells.
|Some of the items we collected and will identify and sketch. All were found on the ground.|
We mucked through a path that she swore was a shortcut and emerged right where she said we would. We both had walking sticks but she stuck a sprout of bamboo in the top of hers and proclaimed she was queen of the forest again! Today we are going to use my wood burning tool and put the initials of the park we visited in our walking sticks...a tradition I hope to continue many more Wednesdays. I left the park tired, exhilarated and hungry for more time in nature. She declared it a good day. I wistfully thought of me being 60, with a full crown of grey hair, long and lean from many miles of Wednesdays...with her by my side as adult. Still holding onto our Wednesdays. It would be wonderful if that came to fruition. I truly hope it does. I would love for her to have a place to "go" to remember me when I am gone.
But for today, I will thank God for the gift of two golden hours in the woods with my daughter...67 degrees and sunny right in the middle of February. Yes God. Thank you for that.
Until next Wednesday...get out there, find some mud and leave your tracks....get it? LEAVE your tracks :)