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Artistic Digestion

Alone in her castle sits tall Duchess Autumn.
She is silent and watchful and listening well.
She has listened as corn stalks grew up to the heavens,
She has heard all the stories King Summer could tell.

Yes, a thousand new stories King Summer has woven;
He’s draped the plant people in clothing of green
But now his green stories have faded to silence,
His shoulders hang heavy; he’ll soon not be seen.

Up from her throne the tall Duchess arises,
Her burgundy cloak ripples down to the floor.
As she opens her hand, tossing off gentle breezes,
Their whispers and laughter roll right out the door. . .

As on each breeze travels, the birds fluff their feathers,
It ruffles the tails of the squirrels at their play.
The people stand silent and look all about them.
Listening for all Duchess Autumn will say.

The wheat turns to amber and pumpkins are ripened,
Red apples hang low on the full laden boughs
The corn turns to golden and purple grapes glisten
Acorn and nut tumble down to the ground.

The Duchess now raises her arms to the heavens
And calls the sun down to an early night’s rest.
King Summer looks back to the sound of her coming
And with slow, heavy footsteps, fades into the dusk. . .

On hillsides and orchards, on fields and in gardens,
The people with sickle and scythe gather round.
They bring in their harvest to store for the winter,
While squirrels are gathering nuts from the ground.

The Duchess now raises her arms to the heavens
And calls down the sun to an early night’s rest.

The people turn homeward with baskets a-bursting;
With fruit of the harvest, each family is blessed.

Duchess Autumn

Alone in the evening, the Duchess stands silent.
She watches the glittering stars in the sky
In the chill of the evening the creatures are sleeping,
The time for their gathering soon will pass by. . .

At the first light of morning the Duchess moves onward.
Now quickly the breezes roll right off her hand.
Twisting and twirling to send the greens flying
They know they must touch every leaf in the land.

Scarlet steps forward, then gold and then crimson
As winds weave their way through oak, maple, and ash.
Willow and birch dance and sing out in yellow;
Woods set ablaze, as the Autumn winds pass.

Faster and faster the leaves eddy upward
Whirling and twirling into the sky
Around her is nothing but crimson and scarlet;
Yellow and golden now circle on high.

The breezes of evening soon fall into silence.
In forest and field the colors all know
That now Duchess Autumn will turn from the woodland.
Through leaves dry and brown, off she’ll quietly go.

In the end it’s only the winds that whisper;
Not a sound is heard from beast or bird.
The trees stand bare in the cold, clear silence.
Yes, Duchess Autumn has left the wood.

But across every meadow and deep in the woodland
Sometimes a trace of her path can be seen.
As leaves eddy upward and swirl all around us
Everyone knows that it’s here she has been.

~Enki Nature Stories

Grade one has many methods of artistic digestion and output at its disposal.  The story is told one day and the following days include drawings, verses, movements, wool pictures, and dramas.  Willow has seemed to connect to the stories in grade one more--perhaps it is her own readiness for academic work or perhaps it is that she is now given ways to interpret them and make them her own.  Either way, it has been a joy to watch.

Willow presented us with her own puppet show of Duchess Autumn presented in her room.  We helped to collect goldenrod, grasses, nuts, leaves and silks and she constructed her own set and performance.  I was her narrator, using the above exerpts from the poem.  I only managed to take a picture as she was cleaning up, but her efforts were impressive--she's always been good at decorating and arranging.

We are at the end of our first block now and will move onto math next week, a review of the numbers also taught through fairy tales from around the world.  This last week of September is a chance to revel in the official shift to Fall and consider the dragon of Michaelmas and how these seasonal festivals connect us to people across the ages.


( 4 trees — Plant a Forest )
Sep. 25th, 2015 02:57 am (UTC)
I love this poem, and how wonderful that your daughter put together her own puppet play! Our way of homeschooling is very similar - present the story, then deepen the relationship to the story via artistic activity over the next days. We are about to do some math, too. I am having trouble processing that Michaelmas is almost here... - Stacey
Sep. 27th, 2015 10:48 am (UTC)
As much as I have looked forward to the end of summer, it seems too soon to me, too. Day after tomorrow!
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 27th, 2015 10:49 am (UTC)
I think they could fit well with many stories, even picture books. Willow is always ready for a performance of some kind.
( 4 trees — Plant a Forest )

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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