it’s the autumnal equinox, a sunny, breezy sunday, and i am lazily canning my way past the 200 pound mark in tomatoes for this season. rich walks in as i sit with the laptop in my lap (that’s how lazily i am canning), and asks whether i am reading or writing. in fact, i have just been sitting here determined to stop reading and start writing again, dammit! and it occurs to me that it’s time to balance things out, which seems appropriate for an equinox.
i haven’t exactly been spending all of my time reading, but i did get to enjoy a few novels over the summer, in between all the curriculum-related reading i was doing in preparing for my summer program at ols. my favorite was probably the brothers k, by david james duncan, and i also enjoyed some sherman alexie books. we had a grand summer, all told, with lots of camping on the built-in long weekends (summer program was monday through thursday) and gathering fruit from our old familiar haunts as well as a few new ones. i did not garden in earnest, but a garden grew anyway in spite of intermittent bouts of neglect. i likewise felt as though i was going minimal on the fruit preservation, but rich kept on prompting me with, “when are we picking ____? (fill in the name of fruit)” and then driving me around and helping me pick strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and peaches. so all in all, we have a freezer full of berries, plus 42 quarts of peaches on the shelves. fruit wealth!
after a couple of our trips into the valley for fruit, we stopped at a pub that had chalkboard tables and yummy sandwiches and microbrews. we played hangman and i used the yoda phrase, “do or do not, there is no try” for one of the phrases rich had to guess. the very next day at ols, i got a tea bag that had the same quote on the label. lots of magic moments like that this summer. synchronicities, indicating, to my mind at least, things in alignment. it sure feels that way, anyway.
for example, i know that i have finally arrived as a human being in the world, because i am now being paid in both cash and veggies to help run my favorite farm booth at the farmer’s market on certain saturdays. what. a. sweet. gig.
some of my recent saturday work
i am emerging from the tomato marathon just in time to throw a box of pears into jars and then we are off to new york for the annual rew family extravaganza, highly anticipated by all invoived! summer went by so quickly that i haven’t even had time to mourn its demise, and i don’t think that i will have time for that in the giant multi-task of life this year. i hope there are still a handful of fireflies left among the fall color we hope to see while we are there, but the main thing is hugging all my rew peeps again finally!
this year feels so much improved over the hectic pace of last school year, and even though i don’t feel less busy, i do feel a lot more sane and happy. my job satisfaction has gone way up, and i get up every day for school at ols looking forward to my day. the last thing i had to finish reading before i started writing this was an alfie kohn article about progressive schools, spot on as usual, which you can find here.
quinn went from emerging reader to what i, in my untrained, unprofessional opinion, consider a borderline proficient reader, in his secretive quinn way, sometime over the summer. i’d find him perusing his pokemon cards (an ongoing passion) and hear him muttering to himself, “…to reveal your opponent’s weakness…” and then he’d be looking at his paleontology cards, “…forces your opponent to discard one bone card…” and shake my head, wondering how he went from needing books with big short words to read, to reading microscopic three- and four-syllable words fluently. he also skates through the arithmetic with multiples of ten, and i’ll hear him calculating out loud, “so if my pokemon’s h.p. is 140 and your attack just did 60 damage on me, that means i have 80 left!”
but that is textbook quinn learning style. he waits until he is confident, then, boom. he’s already there. it’s how he walked, how he potty trained, how he skipped, how he is reading. now he is on to riding a bike in the same style. he has mostly avoided it for a long time, and although we did obtain a bike for him a year or so ago, he has not put a lot of time or energy into using it. suddenly the other day, he watched his buddy ride away with his mom for a bike ride, and asked me, “can we go to fred meyer after school and buy some training wheels for my bike?” so we did. fred’s didn’t have them but we went to our local bike shop and got them installed, after which he rode around the shop 20 times while i paid. he had put on his helmet before i even drove away from school, and stood next to the bike guy installing his wheels and asked him questions, “so, how do the mechanicals of the bike work?” the next day he rode about a mile on a paved state park trail, and i walked behind, camera in hand and heart up in my throat, praying all of his teeth stayed intact in his mouth. but i trust him. he knows when he is ready, no looking back now.
he meanwhile continues to dazzle me with his vocabulary. he loves to use exactly the right word, never settling for a close approximation. lately i’ve heard him describe how he felt “dumbfounded” and overheard him using the word “infirmary” for a particular zone during an outside game at school. we are almost finished with book 15 in the guardians of ga’hoole series, and i know those books are a source of some of his choice words. but then of course, he picks up the colloquial kid terminology just as readily, and will engage me in a discussion of which stuff “rocks” and which stuff, conversely, “sucks”.
i forgot to introduce our new family members, by the way. rich and i are the proud parents of twins. 5 year old kitty brother and sister. meet bart and lisa.
we love them. i woke up on the day rich and i were to depart on our trip to oklahoma to quinn climbing into bed and was thus sandwiched in the middle of the entire family. boy, kitty, me, kitty, man. it was a good snuggly way to start off on an adventure. quinn got to go on his own adventure (fishing and camping and digging fossils with his dad). and i took my first ever trip to oklahoma with a wonderful tour guide who knew his way around and is the best traveling partner a girl could have.
“…and we partied there… and we stole lawn furniture over there… and we dumped trash somewhere around this building and got chased by cops…” a highly amusing tour through a much younger period in rich’s life. we rented a car, but instead of a compact, they gave us a brand new explorer, which we nicknamed the escapade. (it was like no explorer either of us had ever driven, and had a steep learning curve, no actual key, a backup camera, and other crazy modern features we are unaccustomed to in our fully manual vehicles from the turn of the century.) the temperature was 102 degrees when we stepped out of the airport in tulsa, at which point my phone, still reporting the weather in seal rock, oregon, read 63. the climate shock was intense, and i eventually had to insist on keeping the escapade a.c. warmer than 70 so that i didn’t get dizzy every time we stepped out of it.
i saw half a dozen of the former residences of my love, which is funny because he has lived in our house for 18 years now. we drove all around tulsa, and i’d make observations like, “my, there are a lot of churches” to which he’d reply, patiently, “it’s the bible belt, dear.”
we stayed with his mom and dad, and i got to meet both his sisters and a lot of nieces and nephews and some great-nieces and -nephews (i’m a great aunt as well as a grandma, now that i’m a ripe old 36.) the house his parents own was like a little oasis on the outside of tulsa, rural enough for us to sleep well at night (thanks to the ceiling fan) and with lots of wildlife (dragonflies bunnies gophers birds turtle grasshoppers cicadas and, alas, chiggers) and of course, rocks to look at. i may possibly be a bit smitten with rocks as a result of my week long immersion at rock camp.
and of course, i ate fried okra from bob’s garden every day for lunch, and bob-corn every chance i got. so i have to pronounce oklahoma 100% ok in my book.
and here is quinn on his first day of school… which took place not 6 hours after i arrived back home from ok.
i’ll be going back to fill in details of our summer as i often do with the month of unschool posts… stay tuned and thanks for tuning in!