Category: nature


I found this writing while going through old files. While I wrote it when G was entering 1st Grade…he just entered 7th…I thought it timely to post this at the beginning of the school year.
– DDH

We made sure to arrive early so we could get a good seat right on the aisle in the old
church. Although we’ve been here many times before—holiday sing-a- longs, school
performances—today is different.

 

This morning’s Rose Ceremony holds special significance for us as 1st grade parents. As your children have done before, our child starts his or her journey through the grades.

The Rose Ceremony

The ceremony is simple and joyful, framed in anticipation—perhaps solemnity—that
doesn’t diminish the brightness in our eyes or lower the raised corners of our smiles.
Seated here in the first few pews—not unlike parents in years past—we’re here to
witness the start of a new song of sorts, poised at that ever-important first note.

The first note

We’ve all been there. We can relate. To me, it’s like the year—or years—of kindergarten was like an orchestra’s warm-up, each instrument finding its own notes, tone … and volume. But the 1st grade is when you can start to discern some sort of rhythm, some pattern, some melody.

What’s happens next?

That’s the question, isn’t it? Regardless of where your children are on this WSA path,
you can answer that question much better than our troupe, gathered together in silent
anticipation.

As 1st grade parents, we’ve come together as a class, all with varying experiences at and
outside of Waldorf, bringing different understandings of what lies ahead, and, of course,
unique reasons for being here of all places: these few acres with more than a few trees
in Decatur.

Kinship among strangers

I can’t help but think about how interesting it is that we all ended up here. As we get to
know each other, we learn about our reasons for being here and why we chose Waldorf.
Many of us want something more for our children. And some of us aren’t really sure what that “something” is, but feel we can find it here. We see the possibilities inherent in this environment. And we trust in the opportunities that are abundant in Waldorf education.

For others, being here is a reaction to public school. To a greater or lesser degree,
there’s dissatisfaction with what public education offers. For me that hits home.

My father—a lifelong educator and recipient of the California teacher of the year award—saw his health decline dramatically when classroom sizes swelled and disrespect ran rampant.

For others, Waldorf was a second choice. Fair enough. One parent wanted her kids to attend another local private school, but could only make the waiting list the first year. There was space at Waldorf though, and after a short time, she knew this school offered what her children and her family needed.

Regardless of our reasons for being here, our reasons are valid. It’s fascinating that
although the reasons that brought us here are across the board, we come together in what we seek to gain from this education: a whole education.

And that’s what Waldorf seeks to give.

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Giving it away: Prelude

giving-it-away

Note to self, scratched in the back of “On Writing” by Steven King.

Lemme go ahead and put this out into the world: the prelude to my book.

It’s not perfect. It’s not edited (at least to any degree that I, as a professional editor, would admit). And it probably ain’t final. But it is. So there. Here. Read it, free of charge and with my compliments.

Early this year, I warned that this blog might not be pretty, so I guess this is one way of delivering on my word.

If you want to share your thoughts or impressions, feel free to comment and feel free to push it further into the world. With the caveat that I’m doing this for myself and my muse and not for others, I thank you in advance.

Prelude

Spires of smoke rose above the city of Kigaru, wedged between the twin mountains of Mizuyama and Kayama. Thicker, darker columns – from the larger kilns and blacksmiths – reached the greatest heights before dissipating in the cold winds of early autumn. Lower, lighter threads of smoke spoke of more humble origins, of temples and family hearths.

Surrounded by the mountains’ mist and the fog of the bay, Kigaru bore a shroud about and above it. The tops of its tallest trees were bare, exposed to the whipping winds – all but the ancient ginkgo tree inside the Himeji Temple grounds. Leaves yellow and gold clung to its branches, holding fast against an approaching winter. Proud, perhaps, but no less resplendent, they’d eventually succumb to the rhythm of the seasons, falling, with few exceptions, together.

One fan-shaped, yellow-gold leaf floated down, just missing the top of the temple wall and coming to rest just shy of the gravel footpath. It landed amid the ceramics covering a ragged tatami mat.

“Aren’t you lovely?” asked the old man, picking it up and studying the leaf. He cast his gaze over his shoulder to the 1,000-year-old tree in the courtyard. “And no doubt lonely,” he added with no hint of sadness. “Not to worry. You can stay with me for a time.” Between a weathered thumb and forefinger, he rolled its stem back and forth, back and forth before tucking it into a pocket inside his coat.

Voices and commotion rose on the other side of the wall. The throng of temple visitors, moments before meandering through the gate and along the pathway, quickly split apart at the insistence of three horsemen. The old man and other seasonal vendors like him gathered the goods at the edge of their mats, trying to keep their wares from being trampled by pilgrims who were trying to not get trampled themselves.

After the riders passed, the crowd reunited. Another vender, a younger woman – a potter, a novice as judged by her crafts – leaned toward Jinbei, who had already brushed dirt of his tatami and began setting out his crockery.

“Say, weren’t those Nakagawa riders?” she not so much asked as confided.

“Mm-hmm,” he mumbled an answer an agreement. “Didn’t expect to see them this early.”

“What? Early in the day?” she asked. “I hope I don’t have to make a habit of saving my goods getting crushed.” The young woman righted a set of thick teacups. “I thought I’d be less dangerous here than on Sochira Street,” she said with a bright laugh that reminded him of the leaf in his pocket.

“The season. I mean early in the season,” he said. “I didn’t expect to see their family crest before the Autumn Grand Ceremony, attended by all noble houses – the Nakagawa clan and lesser estates. That’s not for another three weeks.”

She arched an eyebrow. “And so?”

“And so, they don’t enter this holy ground except on such occasions, except when it’s expected, when it’s required of their station.”

The young potter had stopped setting out her goods to look at and listen to the old man. “Then why were they here?”

He was quiet for a breath. “Beats me,” he answered, then returned her attention. “But whatever the reason, it was important, judging by how quickly they left took off.”

She kept watching him as he got back to work.

“Who knows?” he said, allowing himself a grin before feigning reverence. “Maybe they all achieved simultaneous spiritual enlightenment, satori, and each of them wanted to be the first to brag about it to Lord Nakagawa.”

Such a jibe could get him struck down – he knew it, as did she. Yet she chuckled, covering her mouth with her hand and trying in vain to muffle her mirth, like the yellow-gold leaf in his pocket.

Having just finished J.K. Rowling’s first Potter book that morning, I couldn’t help but smile at the cosmic timing of receiving a used copy of Edward Abbey’s “Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness” late last Saturday. New book, new adventure.

Cloudy_Sunset_at_Delicate_Arch_(8520706358)

“Cloudy Sunset at Delicate Arch” by Arches National Park

Mr. Weiss, one of our neighbors (and only immediate neighbor) had picked it up. He found it at a local book and comic store, the purchase prompted perhaps by his telling me about the book in one of our near-the-hedge conversations, reminiscent of Tool Time‘s Tim Taylor and Wilson W. Wilson. Side note: Were the worth of our new neighbors factored into the property value, we wouldn’t be able to afford this place. 

337 pages of loveliness, not loneliness
Desert Solitaire coverIt’s a book about the author’s time as a solitary US Park Ranger at Arches National Monument in the Southwest. Autobiographical and perhaps envirographical (if you’ll permit me a new word though it’s a wee bit early in the day for that kind of foolishness), the book’s about his series of experiences in nature, and arguably experiences as a part of nature.

That’s what I wanted to write about: that separation.

Well before noon, with C already at a lecture and G still snoozing, I’m making some progress in the book, when I’m particularly struck by a snippet:

“There’s a disadvantage to the use of a flashlight: like many other mechanical gadgets, it tends to separate man from the world around him.”

Truth ages well
I’d never thought about a flashlight in those terms before, though I can see his point. But more than just the electric torch example illuminates, I’d say it’s important to consider how today’s mechanical gadgets tend to separate us from the world around us.

Take the Chromebook on which I’m scratching out these thoughts — mos def not part of Edward’s reality when he typed out his draft. Yet his observation still holds true.

IMG_20160518_195137You see, now, I’m looking at a screen, not the wild rabbits in the backyard, daily visitors in our little half-acre Eden, seen through the large kitchen window.

I’m using this electronic medium to (hopefully) connect with others, who will (hopefully) get something from these words, who might (hopefully) share them with others, perhaps helping them in some way and helping me make way as a writer in the meantime. All that hinges on my being in front of the screen.

But the cotton-tailed little darlins are still in the backyard, nibbling the grass to their hearts’ content.

I could be outside, grass between my toes, moving slowly, quietly, seeing just how close I could get before they dart off. What an experience that would be. What fun. How memorable and worthy of my time!

3-2-1-Contact!
So, yeah, gadgets can help us connect, but the original connection — that of humans with nature — it’s hard to come by. I’m of the mind that it takes effort to do so now more than ever. Similarly, we need it now more than ever.

I’d encourage you to take some time today, no matter how much, or where, or when and connect with nature. Doing so doesn’t mean you have to become a US Park Ranger.

Step into the woods and listen.
Stare at a houseplant and observe.
Hesitate before getting into the car and scurrying onto the next errand, close your eyes, breathe deep.

Nature’s there, waiting. Remember that, connect with it, and give it some love.

The 2375 Top 10 List

I’ve got 5 blog posts drafted and incomplete. I need to post something, so here’s one that’s been brewing for a while.

The Top 10 List of Things I’m Grateful for About Our New House at 2375 Hunting Valley

street view

The view from the street. G for scale.

  1. Neighbors and lack thereof. We have power lines to our left, which extend across the street, and nobody living underneath them. To our right lives a kind elderly couple.
  2. The friendly foot traffic. People on the street walk by, wave, and say hello. It’s our own personal Mayberry. We’ll take it.

    Bamboo

    Bamboo … with aspirations

  3. The green. In addition to the field underneath the power lines beside and across from us, we have bamboo – thick, 20-foot-tall bamboo. Behind our fence, there’s a long stretch of woods of hardwood and pine all the way back to the creek.

    Creek

    The Dam Builder

  4. The creek. I believe it’s South Fork Peachtree Creek, but regardless it’s a wide body of water with a noticeable current. Sure there’s some plastic flotsam and jetsam – working on cleaning that out – but there’re rocks and vines and trees in it and across it.
  5. The quiet. Our street is not a thoroughfare. Couple that with our dearth of immediate neighbors, and that equals something called semi-solitude. You can look up at night and almost see the lack of noise. It’s palpable. Evening baseball games from the nearby neighborhood park echo over the treetops, taking nothing away from the quiet, but somehow adding to it.
  6. The birds. I swear we’re living in a nature preserve or maybe a Disney movie. Perhaps not the latter but if all these songbirds burst into song and make Carmen a dress for the ball, I’ll reconsider. Hawks, songbirds, two different kinds of woodpeckers, plus an owl (sight unseen, but heard). One of the woodpeckers, a redheaded one that we’ve named Woody, pecked the crap out of one of the stumps by the fire ring.

    woodpecker

    Woody, I ain’t even mad at ya.

  7. The bunnies. Cute, fluffy, brown, real, not-stuffed, actual bunny rabbits. There are at least four different ones that we have seen. Related note: we planted carrots in our garden.

    Turkey

    Not a bunny, but I forgot to mention we have a neighborhood turkey.

  8. Our garden. Gabriel’s always been a good gardener thanks in large part to his grandma. And I’ve always enjoyed gardening, although my execution thereof leaves something to be desired. Regardless, before all boxes were unpacked at the new place we spent an entire Saturday and some of Sunday pulling up grass; tilling in compost; and planting cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, and them carrots.

    garden

    G, fixin’ to tear it up.

  9. My family. We change circumstances, the circumstances change us. And while I know that happiness comes from within, living within these walls makes us happy.

    family

    Staring out at the back yard, a worthwhile way to spend time

  10. My friends. We now have more space in which we can welcome even more of them. I can’t wait fill it up at our Warm The House (Party) later this month and share this wonderful space. They’ve been so supportive through this whole process, and I even had an old high school pal who, even though he can’t make the party, offered to help “move anything large/heavy or help with any dirty tasks between now and then.” That’s what got me started writing instead of just thinking about this list. Thanks, y’all.Friends

 

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