Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The impeded stream is the one that sings

"There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say "It is yet more difficult than you thought." This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings."
-Wendell Berry

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Transition Time

We have officially said good-bye to Hemphill House and all the memories we made there this summer. The porch is empty, the house is filled with regular house furniture, there is no happy colorful clutter, paintings drying on the railing, wooden toys on the shelves, produce in baskets and food preparations in the kitchen. No children running through it all.
It is quiet now and Free Range Childhood is looking for a new home. The two places we had considered are not going to be viable and so we are in an expectant waiting stage.
The primary families involved are taking a couple weeks sabbatical and other participants are waiting to find out what the next step will be.
It is likely that this will be a quieter, scaled back year where we have a little more time and space to put thought into shaping our learning community. We have been building a full-time project from scratch while running it full-time. That's the grassroots way and its been big and beautiful but we need a bit of a rest for the fall and possibly the winter to allow for things to unfold a bit more slowly, a bit more mindfully.
Also it's likely our name will change to reflect the direction we are moving in - a supportive community of families learning and advocating for change together.
We are currently thinking of New Appalachia FreeSchool Community.
Feedback welcome.
The last two weeks of our summer the small and middle children had learned to paddle the canoe by themselves with a shovel because we didn't have paddles for it. They took turns paddling the child ferry around and around the pond weeds stalking frogs, trailing fingers along the water's surface, jumping, shouting and swimming off its overturned red hull. They rushed to the canoe first thing after morning chores and stayed for the entire day, becoming pond dwellers, inhabiting the murky brown shallows in mismatched swimsuits and old clothes, aquatic and alive, hallowing out the sunburnt hem of summer. On one of the last days, they pulled the canoe on the shore, sunny side up, and enlisted the older boys to haul buckets of hot water to fill it in order to create a homemade hot tub to ease off the day.
It was a priceless summer and I look forward to what the fall will bring.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Good Things

It always reinforces that one is part of something bigger than oneself when help keeps appearing and good things happening just when you need it most, but didn't know you'd need it ahead of time in order to ask for it.
That's a big sentence.
It seems to be a season of many changes for many people and we are no exception. We will most likely be moving locations for the fall which is both sad, as we love our beautiful house here, but also very exciting as we look at a beautiful eco-building on an organic farm with lots of other phenomenal opportunities.
As we processed that this past week, the overwhelmingness of it has been offset by amazing help and affirmations from some traveling WWOOF'ers (young people serving on organic farms) dropping in unexpectedly then deciding to stay a while and Sparrow being here two days a week with lots of enthusiasm, energy and ideas.
Favorite quote from one of the WWOOFers: "I've never been involved with such well-behaved children! They are so responsive and self-directed." While on the inside, we often see the melt-down moments too, (like when none of the kids wanted to clean up the massive pillow-and-blanket-fort shanty town they had erected at the back of the house after it had disintegrated into earthquake rubble), it is really true that given respect and freedom, children will respond accordingly. I think the kids here are unbelievably amazing.

We received a huge donation of bottlecaps. And huge is not an exaggeration. We started a bottlecap project yesterday using an one-inch hole punch to cut out images and place little found objects inside the caps. We've been sealing them with poly-resin to make little worlds-inside-bottlecaps.
The older kids have found a new "addiction" (their words) and are now cutting up comic books to create heroes, villains, quotes and assorted images inside the caps and have begun an elaborate trading game with them. The craft table has been covered all day and breaks were only taken to eat and have brief trading sessions. It is 7pm, many of the children have stayed for the evening and they are still at it.

We have been learning new songs with Sparrow and weaving them into the fabric of our daily rhythms. We have begun singing before daily meal, singing as we clean up, and singing at the end of the day. These tiny adjustments to the day add a great deal.

We have been very crafty with Aspen (one of the WWOOFers) here and have made potato stamps, collages, bottlecap creations and paintings.
Michele was here yesterday teaching the children "plant magic" and healing. They have been making herbal tinctures that will be in practical use for our apothecary. The last one was a calming tincture which the children named "Heal The World With Calmness" but spelled it on the jar, "Heal The World With Comeness." It is very cute.
Today they made a tincture with the kids' favorite common herb "Self Heal." The small purple clover-like flowers grow weed-like all season in the field and by the roadside. The children love the fact that it is so accessible and continually experiment with its many different usages.

There were visitors out today to learn about the project and we will have another open house next Tuesday, although visitors are welcome anytime.

Rosetta spent the late afternoon canoeing small children around the pond.
Tomorrow, Hanifa will be here and Denise will be painting rocks with the kids. We want to go on a long woods walk to observe the changing season.

Summer is getting late and we look forward to what fall will bring.