late afternoon, rainy and gray, 50’s, new moon yesterday
Pretty much any moment of any day I could literally start crying just thinking about the amazing treasures on this planet. I think to get the chance to live here is such a stroke of luck, it takes my breath away to dwell on it, makes me feel a little dizzy really, like I just won some unimaginably large lottery, or am standing on the edge of some great cliff.
If you spend one minute really studying any one thing here, like the wing of a bird for example, you will find such detail, such invention, such delicate fucking beauty there that your mind will reel with the wonder of it. And then you will wonder at the millions of billions of other things that share the planet with us, just as magnificent as a birds’ wing, just as detailed, just as inventive, and just as filled with delicate fucking beauty. Your mind will inevitably begin to wonder why people aren’t just collapsing in the streets from the sweetness of it all and the fact that it’s all so fleeting.
I think that’s why I started painting again. Because sometimes words aren’t enough. Sometimes these tidy little letters feel like the track of a thing, when really what you’re seeking is the blood of it.
warm, rainy in the morning, damp, 50’s. moon phase: waxing gibbous with 74% of disc illuminated
My favorite thing about unschooling, is that there is no distinction between “learning” and “living.” Learning can happen anytime, and does happen all the time, in a million different ways.
Today, unschooling looks like going to the local natural history museum to play with friends.
It looks like wearing pajama pants in the afternoon and making art .
And mama art:
And it looks like finding some of the first flowers of spring:
Will unschooling be the right education option for Revel’s entire school career? I have no idea. We will just evaluate as we go. But I do believe humans love to learn. And experiment. And adventure. And we thrive when our lives are full of rich experiences, friendship, nature, and love. So for now, unschooling suits us very well, and fits into our lives in a way that feels very natural and quite beautiful and delightfully wild.
A few years ago, in one of our favorite parks on the edge of town, the boys and I found a dead deer along the bank of the little conestoga creek. They were still super little, and were so bundled up in their little snow pants and jackets and mittens and hats that they could barely move that day. They were fascinated by the deer in sort of an offhand way, spent a little bit of time looking at it and then went about their business. Later we brought will back and he harvested the antlers, intending to use them for flint knapping or other projects. So the park was christened “the deer park” by the boys and we’ve called it that ever since.
Yesterday we picked up Zander from school and decided to head over to the deer park for a little romp.The understory there is very tangled and thick, filled with multiflora rose and stinging nettles and it’s nearly impossible to explore off trail during the summer months, so we hadn’t been to the old deer site for quite awhile, as it’s well off the beaten path.
There, lo and behold, was the skull of the old deer and some of the bones. The remains had been strewn about a bit and quite a few had been carried off out of sight. We looked for tracks and noticed all the little places where rodents and gnawed with their little teeth, seeking calcium and other hard to find nutrients, and then we collected the skull and a few of the vertebrae and leg bones, a scapula and some ribs to study at home. The boys are both fascinated by the presence of bones, within their own bodies, and the ones we come across when we’re out exploring. I’m fascinated by them too, to be honest. How reassuring it is that something so sturdy lies just below the surface of such delicate bodies, and how we are put together in such a delicate, and complicated, way.
The sun seems to be swallowed and we’re stuck in a gray phase. Feeling hungry for bright, warm sun, but this warmish drizzle and dark sky will have to suffice. It did snow a little tiny bit yesterday, which delighted Rev to no end. Winter is clearly his favorite season and he can play with snow and ice for hours, crunching around in his little boots and cracking up the ice that covers our small puddles and the sides of the creeks. His favorite treat right now is taking a walk to get hot chocolate from the neighborhood coffee shop, so we did that yesterday morning in the snow, and today in the rain, and both times it seemed to be the greatest adventure, even though it’s just a short trip around the block.
Wil teaches ecology and wilderness survival classes at a property just across the Susquehanna on the york side. Awhile back, a hunter set up a trail cam along one of the little forested patches that criss crosses through the property. A few mornings ago Wil woke me up with an email from a friend, asking if he thought one of the photos captured showed a gray fox. Half asleep, I glanced at the picture and sure enough it was a coyote!
We know they’re here in the area- there have been a few sightings and some sign found, and our highly developed area offers a large array of edges between urban, farm, and wild habitats that the Eastern coyote tends to love. But to see a photo of one hanging out in the same place wil teaches? That feels like a gift of the highest degree. In a landscape that often feels maddeningly neutered, proof of a wild canine roaming these lands kindles a spark in me that sometimes I fear may already have gone out.
We got our christmas tree today. It’s the first year we picked a real, large tree from a lot, and Rev was so excited. In past years we’ve used our potted norfolk pine, which we still have growing happily in our western facing window, but this year it felt like time to try a live tree, although, I have to say I wish we could have gotten one actually living to plant in the spring, but those are more expensive and out of the budget. Truly, I’ve always wished there was a way to have large trees happily growing inside year-round, and now Rev shares my wish.
Anyhow, what did we discover as we jostled the small spruce into its tree stand, but an eastern swallowtail chrysalis (Papilio glaucus) hanging from one of the lower branches. We weren’t sure who was in the little pod at first, but we pointed it out to Rev and then went about our business. A few hours later, while he was zipping around the living room, climbing all over the sofa and jumping on the chairs, he suddenly proclaimed, “That’s not just any egg! It’s a chrysalis!!” to which Wil and I just about fell over with surprise and delight. So we looked it up and it turned out to be the Swallowtail Chrysalis. We’ll have to move it outside to prevent it from hatching, and I’ll be excited to watch it come spring to see if it will still hatch out.
eastern swallowtail chrysalis (Papilio glaucus). by natasha
It’s finally, actually, cold here, which feels kind of remarkable after such a hot, and long, summer and fall. The cold blew in all at once on Saturday night accompanied by ominous dark clouds, ferocious winds, and a wild letdown of sleet, and it has stayed cold and windy since then. I have the baby today, and miraculously she and Rev are both napping at the same time, and I am creeping around trying to make the opposite of noise but am mostly just banging into things.
We made hand turkeys the other day and today Rev helped me cut them out and tape them to the front door and window, along with some leaves we had pressed and dried a few weeks ago, during the height of the colors. Now, they’re brittle, but still beautiful, and Rev could pick out the oak and maple from the others and which made both of us so proud.
And now they’re up already, with pink cheeks and rumpled hair and we’re all downstairs eating lunch and the house feels like a hug.
Waning moon, saw it in western sky this morning around 10:30 when we left house. Very warm, 70’s, sunny, no clouds until around 4 oclock when cold front rolled in. Huge winds from the North and west. Hail/sleet and rain. Sun seemed to set when clouds rolled in and it was a very dark, stormy, but cozy evening. Rev had a fever the past two days but tonight it was gone, yay.
My god, how can it already be november 19th? Seems to me November just started and now here we are, almost Thanksgiving and almost my birthday, which just happen to be on the same day this year. Time just feels like it’s moving too fast sometimes, the weeks are racing by. I suppose the question is, how can I be more aware of every day, every moment? How can I be more engaged in my life, how can I slow down, pay attention to all the details so it feels like things slow down? Although this year feels slower than last year, and I feel much better and more sane, less rushed, it’s still there, time moving by and rushing on, like something slick and fluid slipping through my hands.
Today we went to county park with the boys. Wil was planning to work, but ended up changing his mind, so we got to have lunch and park time together and it was so nice. He worked on remembering some of the traps he invented years ago, and zander was pretty riveted watching him, as usual. Wil is still the apple of his eye and zander delights in everything he does. He’s also a good student and loves to learn. Rev made up his own “trap” with a stick and a patch of nettles, explaining the animal would “trip over the stick and land in the nettles, getting a bad sting.” Clever, if perhaps not exactly efficient, in getting meat.
We spent some time at my old sit spot, which the boys now love to spend time in as much as I do. It’s a perfect bowl right now, an empty vessel. It’s been so dry, there’s barely a trickle of water out of the spring pipe, and even the small pond is very nearly dry. The large pond emptied like it is makes a perfect place to play and run around, track and get messy in mud. The ground is very soft there, all clay, and even if it is very dry it is a pretty good tracking spot. We saw a ton of deer tracks and a deer- sammy (one of our dogs) chased her up over the ridge and along the road as a matter of fact and I had to chase after him.
We also saw a perfect little fox scat on the one rock that sits in the middle of the dried pond bed. And sam found something living under the big crack willow but couldn’t dig it out. Rev spotted a red tail (Buteo jamaicensis) circling above on the air currents and called him by name which of course made me so happy. It was warm and we all got thirsty chasing each other around so took some big drinks at the water pumps at the top of the hill. The boys splashed in the water and wil helped them take their shirts off and let them run around in the sun like two wolf pups, despite my protests, which they all found hilarious.
Stopping at Zander’s house afterwards to drop him off, zander lent rev a blue polo shirt. After I helped him put it on, the collar was sticking up a bit and the buttons were undone. Zander said, “here rev, let me help you” and so delicately stood in front of him fixing his collar and buttoning his buttons and I felt like I was peeking into their future, into prom night or one of their weddings, it was such an earnest, sweet, little moment. A split second of time travel on an otherwise normal day.
Red-tailed hawk ( Buteo jamaicensis) feather dropped from the sky.