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.
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.