Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I have not had too much of picking

Our "school year" has started. What it's looked like so far is a wonderful "bat overnight," where we camped out at a local regional park and talked about bats and made gliders to illustrate principles of flight and played with sticks and looked for bats and watched bats wheel and dive and listened to stories around a campfire and ate marshmallows and played with little siblings and the parents laughed and talked and went to get good coffee in the morning because, hey, if you're camping in a city known for good food, why not?

One of the nicest parts of the overnight was that some folks who weren't in the homeschooling group came -- some without kids, but with a kid-like substitute.

She was a hit.

And the first day of "book work" went okay -- spelling, math, reading lessons, and some history of the labor movement in the United States. Mother Jones, anyone? Guess who's interested in that? I'm so excited I can hardly function. Reminds me a little bit of my friend and her enthusiastic learning style. There are so many fascinating spots right around where we live where workers and employers clashed, often violently, to secure the rights my children take for granted. As a parent educator, I also get to interrogate my own understanding of history and current events and try very hard to move beyond less-helpful dualisms like "good/bad," or "noble/money-grubbing" and look at how power corrupts almost everyone who wields it, historically.

Of course, no late-summer day would be complete without a trip to get more blackberries. New friends came, and a lovely afternoon of wishing I had a harvest hover craft ensued. Fourteen cups of the lovelies are right now tucked into the downstairs chest freezer awaiting the alchemy of the jam pot.

In classic family style, I ignored the pain in one of my toes the entire afternoon. I must have hit it on something, I assumed. It wasn't until I'd gotten home and changed my clothes that I found the dagger-like blackberry thorn under my toenail. Hmmm. Maybe a high pain tolerance isn't always a good thing.

And since it's Tuesday, it's farmer's market, tea, and poetry day. I think I'll read this one, in honor of yesterday's harvest:

After Apple Picking

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.

And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

-- Robert Frost

It's going to be a good year.


Spider said...

The bat part was kind of boring, but the 'running around with friends' part of it was lots of fun.

allisonmariecat said...

Ooh, that sounds so fun. We're installing a bat house for next summer, hope they move in.

Ouch! Just, ouch, on the blackberry thorn!

Patricia said...

Aw shucks, thanks for linking to my blog. And yes, while I think the kids of Parents Who Love To Learn often roll their eyes, they're being infected too. Cause a love of learning is contagious no matter how much the kids may try to repel it. (Not that they'll love the same things we do. My love of kitchen gardens may inspire a love of foam weapons. Dear, dear. Not the love I was going for...but passions in general are a good thing.)

Thanks for sharing the Frost poem.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great way to kick off a new season of living and learning. ...and I'd go get good coffee too LOL!!

Robin said...

That is fabulous that you are able to educate your kids on your own terms. The propaganda (and just plain mediocrity) passed down in schools today is really scary. In a parallel universe where I had kids, I would do whatever I had to in order to do what you're doing. And I love the kid-like substitute! What kind of bird is that?