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The Apprentice (A World More Beautiful)

"The child has come to us as an apprentice.  She looks to us to teach her about the art and science of living in this world.  Sadly, the apprenticeship way of learning is slowly disappearing from our life-style.  The loss is great because is provided for many important lessons in living.  It made it all right not to know how to do something.  It acknowledged that skills had to be learned from a craftsman and then practiced.  It taught caring for, not just using things.  It showed that being good at something did matter and that it took time and practice. . ."

Rose PetalsMiss Rumphius is a story where its namesake implores her niece to do three things--see faraway places, live by the sea, and make the world more beautiful.  The little girl doesn't know yet how she will accomplish the last task.  I suppose many of us would not know how to answer that question.  It is a tricky one, and certainly quite subjective.  After all, Miss Rumphius plants quite a lot of flowers seeds--that's not for everyone to undertake.  I can hardly read that book without feeling emotional at its end and thinking about my own answer to that question.

I've just finished reading Parenting a Path Through Childhood.  It's a small, rather unknown book that was first published the year before I was born.  Its words echo thoughts I have had and have read many times--children need time to grow, they learn from us how to be in the world, the world has a lot of materialism, and it is up to us to discern what is true and beautiful and teach it to our children.  It, too, suggests that we make the world more beautiful and that the simplest (but not easiest!) way to do this is by parenting.  I could not agree more.

It was suggested to Mike that I get a job so that we could have more disposable income, to do things like travel more frequently.  I had a chuckle at it, I'll admit.  The suggestion was offered by someone who has a fairly opposite lifestyle to our own.  We value our time here more than our money.  It gets what we need and sometimes what we want.  We do often have to squeeze as much out of it as we can, but we've got skills that help with that.  The book mentions the idea of children being apprenticed to their parents.  Oh, it's a good one.  I can say that I had that kind of childhood.  I moved on to my own life knowing how to cook, sew, bake, can, knit, crochet, and garden.

The cost of childcare alone would negate the purpose of working for that extra income.  I would rather work to send my children to a private school, which is not an option here.  Really, I am absolutely doing what I want to be doing with my life right now.  I'm not Ranger Brandy, but that ship has sailed.  Maybe it will come back, looking a little differently.  I do look at others, from time to time, and feel a little left out.  All that melts away when I consider that I get to be with my children all the time, something that most people consider a luxury (or drudgery).  We make it work, financially and logistically, living on a prayer.

I still maintain the belief that Willow needs to be home and that the public school environment is not for her.  I think she would have a certain amount of fun with it, but I think being here, being among people of all ages and abilities, is far more nourishing for her.  My children get to see people doing real work quite often and they get to see life in all its stages.  Birth and death have been shown to them as natural processes.  I've never said that I want my children to be the smartest or best or for them to have an "edge."  Really, I want them to be whole, balanced, creative people that are capable of taking on the twists and turns of life adeptly.

I'm not trying to brag or claim perfection--our lives are far from that.  We argue, we cry, we worry, but we also bloom where we are planted and make that rose syrup lemonade.  This life is right for us, partly because it is ours and we are living it and partly because we choose to take and make joy.

"What is in the child's environment will be internalized by him.  The formed and consistent environment will become an inner structure.  The caring she has been given will become an inner caring.  As she becomes an adult, what she has internalized from her environment, she will be able to put back into the world in a heightened way.  If she had the opportunity to experience the attitude of devotion, a reverence for nature, mutual respect and morality, she will have the opportunity to develop her own capacities for love and wisdom."
~Parenting a Path through Childhood

A Blessed Wilderness

It was just like being in heaven, being in there. In those days there was no road. The park was all a blessed wilderness. I have often thought what a wonderful people we would have been if we had wanted to keep it that way.

~Adolph Murie, biologist, on Denali


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