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Nature School :: While the Sun Shines

We're supposed to get three to five inches of snow tomorrow night!  Looking at these sunny photos from yesterday, it's a little hard to believe!  The winds blew in rain during the night and they'll blow again this afternoon to carry the cold this way.  Most of next week looks solidly like Winter and I am formulating how to protect the blueberries, whose little leaf buds are opening just a bit (and who could blame them!?).  Putting out a tarp in the wind--perfect!

Edge of the Wilderness

We visited the Raccoon Branch Wilderness yesterday day, just off the Appalachian Trail.  Really, just off of it.  Children will certainly show us how to appreciate a small patch of land!

On the Fallen Tree

This is the same wilderness area that joins up with the campground we visit so often.  It's the newest one in our area, as you can tell by that nice sign.  Just up the hill from where the children were enjoying this fallen tree, my dad and I picked dripping wet wild blueberries after a strong Summer storm fourteen years ago.  You can see it in my userpic.  Those were the days.  I suppose I ought to make plans for that this Summer.

In the Tree

Being mountain folks, with one leg longer than the other, we spent our time on a steep hillside enjoying this hollow tree.

Hollow Tree

The stump was pretty impressive and the children made a lovely fairy house in it.  That's one of their favorite activites these days.


I carefully picked my way back down the hill and enjoyed the sun sparkling through the trees.

White Pine

This morning feels cozy--oatmeal is in the plans, which always pleases me. I couldn't eat it for the longest time, so I am careful to make sure we have it every week, often with grated apple stirred in. I was looking over the Susan Branch newsletter from Winter and her journey to Vermont for Valentine's Day. Now, I'm properly ready for being just a little snowed in and in a Christmas-y mood. I have a feeling we'll roast hotdogs by the fire and enjoy some hot chocolate.

Happy Friday!

Spring Bouquet

Spring BouquetYesterday was Work Day, so we spent part of the morning moving branches, cutting back raspberries, pruning, and taking down some trees.  This was all over at the Roland Estate, where there are numerous tangles and piles that are in need of some removal.  This is a good time to do things like that, since the plants are still mostly dormant.  It's a big job that will take several weeks of work to complete, with the end goal being able to mow the places that were once neglected brush piles.  I don't do the mowing, of course, but I do hope to make the job a little easier.

The children love that kind of work, honestly.  We keep it reasonably short, an hour or two, and then follow with some refreshments that help to buoy them along.  It felt like Summer while we were working--we soon shed the sweaters and hats we had come with.  Convinced it was terribly warm at sixty degrees, the children were soon cold from their icy drinks.  The sky clouded over and the wind picked up.  Oh, March.  The rain didn't come until supper time, but everyone was in a good mood the rest of the day.  It makes a person of any size feel good to do work that yields instant, visible results.

All across our area, daffodils and crocuses are in bloom.  We find them in the yards of abandoned houses (and I bring a few home).  The ones in my yard are quickly whisked inside by my flower pickers, and we've made plans to buy a lot more bulbs when Autumn comes again.  We were taking a walk around the neigborhood to admire all the flowers, and I was thinking of Martinmas and the mood that comes with it. The whole year brings many reflective opportunities and I am looking forward to it.  If you look closely, you can see a single snowdrop and a spring beauty that the children picked.  I guess that means Spring is really here.

Sundays in Nature

Old Picnic Table

Old picnic tables give way to moss.


Walking together.


History in signs.

On the Gate

At Mike's request, we've recently taken up more time outside on Sundays.  With most of his week spent traveling, then coming home to unload and repack supplies for the next week, we don't get as much time all together as we might like.  Last week, we visited Backbone Rock, where Mike and I got engaged.  This week--Beartree Recreations Area.  We both worked here in the Ranger Brandy days.  My dad visited this spot in the late sixties with his dad on dirt bikes.  My parents spent part of their honeymoon here.  I celebrated at least one childhood birthday camping here, as well.  It is a family place.

I suppose this is where I go off course and talk about public lands and how they are cared for.  It is easy to see where our leaders place their values when you visit National Forests.  Structures are long-empty, there is little staff on hand to help (or only intrepid volunteers), and there's an over-all mood of the place having passed its hey day.  Our areas used to have two big offices that looked after the USFS land here (and we have a lot for this part of the country!), and now they've been condensed to one with no new hires in the foreseeable future.  It was sad to give up my dream of being a full-time Ranger Brandy, but the reality quickly revealed itself.  I couldn't spend years wandering the country as a seasonal employee, waiting for something to open up.  I wanted, and had, roots.

So, we are now fans of our public lands, instead of aspiring to take our livelihoods from them.  The places are full of memories, of course, and still there, in their silence, waiting for new memories to be made.  We walked up an old road yesterday that I have traveled numerous times, back when I had one of those magical Master Keys that Unlocks All the Things.  On foot at the end of Winter, it was a different place than by car in high Summer.  We found frog eggs and ice, wee green leaves and lots of birch bark.  The children really had a good time with that old road.  I have plans to come back in the Summer and spend the whole day there--there's a lake, several camping loops, a picnic shelter (where we had our wedding reception), and some beaver flats.  I'm looking forward to it.

School Things :: Shifts and Ladders

Christopherus Grade ThreeAfter a long February, I find myself with a little afternoon break.  The wind is strong today, steadily around 20 mph, but it is sunny.  March  weather at its most typical.  Three months left to the school year, I am settling in and refocusing old routines, and planning a new year.  As the first big shift in our homeschooling, our Christopherus materials arrived earlier this week.  I'm reading through them and feeling pleased with what I see.  Just like our choice of Enki, this one also relied heavily on my intuition.  I spent time on the phone with both Live Education and Christopherus, getting a feel for their methods.  It felt good and comfortable to choose Christopherus as our next step, having exhausted the current Enki materials.

I'll admit that I like very much the idea of having the whole year laid out for me.  Enki did this, to some degree, but left a lot in the hands of the teacher.  While I do love being able to choose from many materials, I also find comfort in trusting that it is all put before me.  Enki was my teacher training, truly, and I am going forth in faith and freedom now.  I am so excited about third grade, practical person that I am.  A year of creation stories, native peoples, and life skills will be so fun, I think.  The way that we have handled religion has meant that Willow's steps into such stories have been gentle, which may not suit everyone.  But, for us, and for her temperament and tendencies, it has been right.  She will be ready to take hold of Bible stories at just the right time.

For now, we are still moving along with second grade.  Onto the Jewish tradition, we are reading trickster tales about a fellow named Herschele and the many times he avoids trouble (or makes his own!).  The children always enjoy these stories so much and they are welcome right now, when the weather seems just as fickle as our emotions.  We need to hear what our friend Herschele is up to for some lightness in our days.  The Baal Shem Tov is the sage we're studying this time around, and it will be completely new for all of us, excepting maybe Mike.  Our final sage will be St. Francis, which I think will please the children.  Sweet memories, these are, even when the day-to-day can be so challenging.

Trickster TaleWe spent February learning about place value and experiencing a thousand through jewel-colored base ten blocks.  Willow really enjoyed filling bowls with ten units and then bars of ten and so on.  It is interesting to me the things that children think are not exhausting or boring.  We moved on to a short block on "The Helpful Elf," the ways an "e" at the end of a word changes it into something else.  Teaching phonics has not been a strong point for me, so this was a help.  Reading is moving along for Willow--she is able to read much of what is before her, with some struggle on words that don't make much sense.  Handwriting is a challenge, but so is form drawing.  We spend some time with that each week and she is improving.

I guess all of this is a report card, of sorts, on where we've come from in the past couple months.  In that mood, I can see Roan growing, too.  He can draw almost anything he wants now, which is a big shift from the start of the year when he made simple head and limb people.  He is happy to copy letters to make a short phrase for his pictures.  I don't ask him to do this, but I don't turn down his requests, either.  He has drawn many recurring images--trains on trestles, himself playing in the snow, himself as a cowboy,  horses, houses with woodsheds.  The ladder (or train track) is strong in his work, the single image that could capture his sixth year in its essence. I can find it carved into the wood on my sewing cabinet and it makes me smile at his mischief.  He recently duplicated a chalkboard drawing I did of a leprechaun under a rainbow by a tree house.  It is so dear to see.

Well, time to get it together around here and prepare to welcome the windswept family home.  Happy Friday!


The spring arrives with music, and flowers intertwine. ~ Enki Festival Songs

I guess March came in like a lion today. This morning was cold, but sweetly pleasant as it went on. The children collected periwinkle blooms and puttered around with old pots and bricks and stones. Willow loves that kind of play so much, so it was good to see them all so deeply playing.  By lunch time, the sky had darkened and brough strong storms, which continue even now.  I am glad for the rain, since half of our state is still in a drought.  Our precious mountains are wet enough, but the warm weather has been hard on the rest of the state.  Some fruit trees and ornamentals are blooming now, though Winter comes roaring back tomorrow.

All this aside, it was a good tday to shift to Spring things, with it feeling much more proper than when I took down the insulated curtains in February.  So, Spring napkins in the drawer and Spring pictures on the walls.  The nature table tells of the state of things outside--daffodils in a vase and a card with a man at the plow.  I've been going through drawers, finding quite the pile to discard or donate, which is a constant task.  We have been very blessed to get many things from folks who don't need them any more.  It does mean sorting through quite a lot of things, but it's been a huge savings in many ways.  The morning was so bright and cheery with the windows open.

We had vegetable soup from the freezer and this hearty bread for lunch.  It had been awhile since I made it, but I think I will try to make it more often.  I have had mixed results from my favorite bread recipe lately, so it's time for a change.  I think it will do the children good to get used to a crusty loaf, and Willow compared it to "Green Valley bread."  I am thinking now about nature school tomorrow and how I will work it out.  I'm thinking of stopping by a greenhouse for some pro-mix and then driving over to Beartree Recreation Area.  I think some soup and bread might be just the thing to knock the chill off of lunch in the woods.

Crafting On :: Cats and Things


Willow's cat was so sweet, I had to make a big one, too.  Of course, she's called "Mama Cat."  In the background, there's a quilt I've been mending for beanovich, that's all ready to go back home to her.  And in front, there are two projects that are coming along slowly--a sweater for Roan (Little Spare Time) and a couple hats for Ginger.  Interestingly, Roan's is made with Wool of the Andes and I'm finding that the solid color is softer and less itchy than the heathers I love so much.  I think this is going to be a great sweater, when I get it done, and used all year.

For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams.

Nature School :: The Cabin

It was seventy-nine degrees yesterday!  Seventy-nine!  That is just unheard of for this time of year, or it is one for the record books.  I'm sure we broke records yesterday.  Meanwhile, the wind came rushing in this morning, blowing the empty garbage cans around and making the tarp on our front porch look as if it were alive.  We're expecting a cooler rainy day with a frosty night and more reasonable weather in the coming couple weeks.  And that's your weather report from our neck of the woods.  Now, nature school.

Rich Valley

We drove through Rich Valley to the cabin yesterday.  The valley is full of rocky outcroppings.  Roan and I declared it would be perfect for sheep.  I think we saw a few there, in fact.

The Cabin

Climbing up the mountain to the cabin, it was sixty-four degrees.  My parents's cabin is on Flattop Mountain in the Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area.  Though we haven't spent a night there in several years, I'd really like to.  It's such a special place.  This ridge, if you kept going, takes you over to Laurel Bed Lake.

Lots of Acorns

There are numerous cabins on this small strip of private land, so we puttered around on the road and in the yards.  It's still a pretty wild place--we've seen bears many times, along with other wildlife.  All the wildlife, in fact, is part of the reason my parents don't use their cabin much any more.

More Acorns

All the acorns covering the ground show that last year must have been a real bumper crop. Many were beginning to swell and sprout, and we brought a few home.  They were absolutely everywhere.  Well, it's time to get on with the usual Saturday chores here and then head over to the library to find some books for St. Patrick's Day.  We're getting excited!

Gardens, Already


I had the garden annex plowed day before yesterday.  The man with the tractor was in the next yard, so I asked him to come over.  He'll be back in a month or so to till it all with a big tiller.  It will be a funny thing to work in a real plowed garden.  Last year, the valiant efforts at rototilling mainly scratched at the soil, so that we were fighting weeds the whole Summer.  The soil was looser than usual, but still hard to work.  I've got plans for a fair amount of potatoes, a few rows of corn, more cucumbers, and a good fence.  It may be that I'll plant pumpkins over there again, in a different spot.  I'm really excited at the prospect of another gardening season.

The daffodils are blooming, along with the crocuses.  Earlier in the week, we passed a yard that was absolutely full of them.  I'm not sure how the people managed to get quite so many, unless they spread readily.  Willows are leafing out here and some trees are in bloom, though not the fruit trees.  While it will be quite warm today, twenty degrees above average, there's cold and snow in the forecast for tomorrow night.  I'm hoping that will be the warning the trees need to hold back a bit longer.  I'm prepared with lots of sheets, if the blueberries get ahead of schedule.

We're spending lots of time outside, of course, working over at the Roland Estate on much-needed pruning.  We've also been preparing our own garden soil for planting, fluffing peat while the sun shines.  It has been so helpful to the children, just what we all need right now.  My mind is a mess these days--what a strange time to live on this Earth.  I suppose people have been saying that since the beginning of time, though. 

Leaves :

The View from Here :: Whiskers


Willow learned to purl this week and made this sweet little cat from A First Book of Knitting for Children. She has her sights set on a horse for Roan's birthday in April.  And, I must confess that I have started my own kitty in some super bulky yarn. 

Crafting On

Here's my Easy Peasy Shawl, thing of mystery. Does anyone recall that episode of The Waltons where Erin crocheted a present for Grandma that no one could identify? This is like that. I guess I need to wear it with a shawl pin.  Even then, it still won't make much sense, I fear.

Easy Peasy Shawl

I blocked it gently, having a bit of a space constraint, but I think I could do it again and make the bottom lace wider.  I think I need to spring for the blocking mats from Knitpicks, so I can use something besides my old wooden ironing board.  The yarn is pretty, but wasn't good for mittens or socks.  It's so scratchy, but I'm tough enough for Things of Mystery.


Pardon the stern face. :-)

For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams.

In the Sun

But now I am mostly at the window
Watching the late afternoon light.

~Billy Collins :: "On Turning Ten"

Watching Dust 2

I think this photo really captures where Willow is these days, watching dust motes in the late-day sun. There is something shifting within her, something changing, a tumble out of early childhood into this middle world where things don't feel quite right.  There was a good while where play was hard or disintegrating for her.  She wanted to join, but couldn't sink into things or struggled with conflict when she did.  The warm weather has been a help in that way--the children are spending a lot of time outside making up their own games.  I watched Willow take hold of something on the ground and give a tug over at the Roland Estate.  They spent a long time pulling wild onions and collecting many pine cones.  They were so involved in their play, they almost didn't notice as I walked by them.

I'm reading, among other things, I am Different from You, which is a book on middle childhood and the experiences children have around nine and ten.  I love the world of early childhood, who wouldn't?  But, there is more to life than things seen in a gauzy pinkness.  I still have two children there, of course, but Willow needs me in a different way.  The end of Autumn and beginning of Winter was characterized by nightmares, worry, and other oddities.  In a recent consultation, I was able to discuss her seeming fall from paradise and ways that we have coped with it.  Right on time, the third grade year will tackle this fall by grounding the child on Earth.  We're looking forward to all the gardening, spinning, dyeing, and other projects we might tackle, along with the long-awaited creation stories.

She was so sweet the other day, so full of wonder as she watched the sparkling dust.  Fairies--that's what she says they are.  I have no wish to tell her otherwise.  There are times that I think part of being a good adult is remembering what it is to be a child.

Nature School :: The Appalachian Trail

A last little bit of Winter, I think.  The forecast for the next while shows lows being what the highs should be.  If ever there were a time to consider the very real possibility (or reality) of climate change, I think now is it.  And it's probably too late, in many ways.  I often wonder if my children will still see regular snow later in their lives.  This Winter has been the one that wasn't.  I've tried to seize every possible moment to enjoy the cold and snow, knowing it won't stick around long.


For now, though, ice and snow on the Appalachian Trail.
Here's a frozen coneflower from the dripping eaves at the "Ranger House."

Partnership Shelter

And here's Partnership Shelter on the Appalachian Trail.
This one boasts a shower and a sink.  And a phone nearby to order pizza.
It was just right for a week when we all had sniffles.

On the Trail

Oddly, the trail was clear in the snowy woods.
Willow and Roan played in the woods, while we walked.
The snow was pitted from all the dripping and melting.

Needle Ice

There was considerable needle ice, too, which is nice to see.  The ground is still cold and there will likely be some snow in March, right?  I don't like feeling that the natural world is just as up in the air as this human one.  This is the most unsettled I've felt in some time.  Spring feels like it has sprung here in town, and I've taken down the insulated curtains.  I needed the sunshine, anyway.  If Winter won't stick around, it's time to embrace Spring.  I guess we get an early one this year.

Sugar Snow

The proper time for the maple festival is still a month away, but it feels like Spring has been in the air this Winter.  If ever there were a real battle between Summer and Winter (like those for May Day), we have seen it this year.  The flower bulbs have tall leaves up, and even some budding blooms.  The leaf buds are swelling on the trees and bushes.  I even saw some tiny green leaves on an invasive shrub just day before yesterday!  We woke up to a treat yesterday, a small and very local snow that wasn't even anything just a few miles down the road.  A Winter's Mercy, I'll call it.

Bungalow in the Snow

It was a heavy, wet snow that stuck to everything.  I believe there was a little ice underneath it.

Snowy Apple

It's just the thing to keep the apple trees in their proper mood.

Snowy Dogwood

I do have a feeling, though, that the dogwood will certainly be in bloom for Easter.

Crocuses in the Snow

The crocuses are out, but they were closed up for the snowy morning.

Snowy Oak

The snow fell straight down, as you can see.  The areas under the trees were still green.

Snowy Spruce

By the time we made it outside after breakfast, the snow was falling off the branches and melting fast. There's just a tiny bit left now, but we made the most of it yesterday morning. Three snowmen were built, the sweetest ones to look like our old neighbors (and Enid's doll). Many giant snowballs were rolled for making a den, and many were thrown, too. We had our fill of the soaking snow. Today, I'm hoping we'll find just a bit more for nature school in the Raccoon Branch Wilderness.

Leaves :

The View from Here :: Cake Pie

Cake Pie

Cake Pie

Inspired by Martin and Sylvia from Sparkle Stories, I present cake pie.  I baked it in a heart pan and the children thought it was great fun. 

Crafting On :: Short and Sweet

Simple projects today.

Here's a cheery heart mobile the children and I made yesterday.  It's a a very simple one, but it fits the bill and makes the table a happier place.  The idea comes from All Year Round, though their version was more detailed, with two sided hearts.  Also, I really love those letters and numbers on the wall--the room won't be the same when we won't need them any more.  That will be another five years, at least, right?

Valentine Mobile

And here's my Easy Peasy Shawl (I wish it had another name).  Just another five inches of the lace and it will be done.  I gave it a little steam block so that it wouldn't curl up all the time.  It felt a little like I was knitting a giant rotini! I look forward to seeing it done and trying it out.

Easy Peasy Shawl

For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams.

The Littlest House

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are prayers of earth’s own clumsily striving
(finding and losing and laughing and crying) children
whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

~ e.e. cummings :: "I am a Little Church"

The House in the Night

The playhouse arrived on Wednesday morning, ahead of wind and snow that we seem to have once a week, along with Spring. It was a wonder to see it delivered, honestly, on a special remote-controlled trailer the rolled side to side and back and forth at the touch of a button. I had it placed where the sunflower house was, which is a little sad. The yard has almost four dozen limestone rocks sticking out of it, though, so my choices were limited.   We'll get the pleasure of making another sunflower house in another spot (and finding more rocks).

It's a nice little house, with a roomy loft that has generous space for a twin mattress and some books.  With Willow being so tall, more space is always better.  I feel, sometimes, like her height gave her the extra push out of early childhood that she would have rather not had.  Oh, well, this little house is just right.  The downstairs space is a sitting room, with a couple framed pictures and a floor bed.  I've pondered a simple wooden toddler bed, but I'm still on the fence about that.  It's nice to be able to change the space easily, after all.  I'll get pictures when we have a sunny day and things feel settled.  I have decorating dreams for this little space, for sure.

Since the weather has been back and forth, it's been too cold to be out there sometimes.  I did have a bit of frivolity and run some extension cords out for a lamp and a small space heater.  The area is very easy to heat and the building feels pretty tight.  I'll admit that the children have not felt very content with being out there by themselves.  Maybe it is the grey weather, or the newness of it all, despite my efforts to embue it with the familiar furniture and mood of home.  I know things will change with time--it is also something for us grownups to get used to.

Mike was gone just eleven hours short of a whole week, and we spent the last hour of our waiting out in the house.  It felt quite cozy, really, with plenty of soft pillows, blankets, and a lamp.  I brought out some knitting and a book that I'm re-reading, and the children sank into train play.  I suppose we are all quite used to being together all the time.  While I'll admit that I had some dreams of having an hour to myself, the reality is different.  And really, it was easier for me to focus on my two tasks, along with being the gentle referee, in a little house the we are calling the Blackberry Bungalow Claim Shanty.

I've got thoughts on this dear book in the photo, but I'll save those for later.  I've got an early morning trip to the store--there's finally another grownup at home!

Knitting and Reading

Home Things

It feels like Spring here, half the time, and I feel like a big mess about it.  That sounds so silly, but I think I must be Henny Penny these days.  I'm really trying hard not to be, but I am wavering!  My children are perplexed by the funny weather, too, though they are happy to run and climb and play without coats (or shoes!).

Felts and Quilts

In other very happy news, the children are getting a playhouse, thanks to a family member who must have longed for one in her own childhood.  They are beyond excited and we are just waiting for the call telling us the delivery date.  I'm curious to see how it will change things inside, what with the furniture we move out to it and the time they may spend out there.  I'm a little cautious about putting anything out there that is too precious, though it is weather tight.  Summer humidity makes me nervous.

Heart Lantern

Valentine's Day is less than a week away, which I'm sure is no surprise.  I always have mixed feeling about this day, what with all its red and pink together.  We'll make some heart cookies and some cards.  I supposed it wouldn't hurt to put a few in the mail today.  Of course, I consider this and the cookies we need for today on a day when the weather will call everyone back outside again.

Junkyard Tales

Here's part of Roan's junkyard play from listening to Sparkle Stories.  This is Mice Central, if you are a fan of the stories.  All the other favorite places were represented, too.  These stories, along with most of the others, have really become an important part of our routine.  Some are a little too much, like the idyllic Martin & Sylvia Valentine audiobook, but I still wholeheartedly recommend them.

And now, well, my little builder is awake and I bet the oven is heated for the German pancake.  TIme to get whisking!

Crafting On :: Neck Things

What else to call them?  It's my new thing, these neck things.  I started my handwork many years ago with scarves, but they use far too much yarn for the results they give.  I like to think I'm pretty good at doing more with less. ;-)

Here's the Pedestrian Cowl, with a few small modifications, using yarn from blakdove. I've started putting projects on Ravelry, after many years of resistance, and you can find me here.

Pedestrian Close

This is so cozy to wear.  We had a lovely foggy frost yesterday and it was just perfect with my boiled wool jacket.  We spent most of the morning outside, so it was a help.

Pedestrian Cowl

And here's a restart on the Easy Peasy Shawl with yarn Mike's family gave me from a trip to the UK.  This yarn has a pretty gradient to it, so I am looking forward to seeing how this turns out.  I started with bigger needles, but switched to size three.  It's fun to knit something that spirals!

Easy Peasy Shawl

Today is sixty-eight and windy! I've had enough of this, but the weather is great for hanging out lots of laundry and getting the children plenty of fresh air. Two nappers this afternoon, so I am looking at the bright side. Rain's coming in soon and I've got more to fold.

For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams.

The View from Here

Little House

I came by this book from Enid's collection. We have our own copy of all the books, but this one is special.  It came from my elementary school library and is likely the very copy my first grade teacher read to me.  She was the last of a generation, I think, and had attended a one-room school herself.  She brought her slate to show us and made stone soup with us.  She was strict, to be sure, but gave us many good memories.  It was clear that she loved teaching.

Candlemas and Things

CandlemasWe're in a long stretch of weeks here.  Mike is travelling more than ever, with a six-day trip starting tomorrow.  The weather is grey and plain.  Of course, the rowan trees predicted that back during the Summer, a Winter with less snow.  I guess this is the time of year that it is hard to keep good spirits.  Very little feels merry or bright right now, though I suppose my melancholic temperament is partly to blame.  Oh, well.  Candlemas!

The children were happy to find some beeswax sheets and candle wicking when they got up on Thursday.  After warming them on a tray by the heat vent, they set right to work rolling their first three candles.  I have long celebrated this day by using only candlelight, though tradition holds one shouldn't really need it by this time of year.  This was fun at breakfast and a little nerve-wracking by the end of the day, simply because the children are accustomed to electric lights.  I try to use natural light as much as possible, both to avoid waste and to give us an appreciation for what is freely given.

We are seeing some signs of the forthcoming Spring--bulbs are coming up.  The rain has been kind to them, and ones that we planted back in December are sending up leaves.  The Fall crocuses are still standing proud, giving me hope that we will see them bloom later on.  Like everyone else, I am thinking of the garden and what we might grow, though that is three months away, easily.  Candlemas was fair and bright, and sure enough, it is around ten degrees this morning.  That makes me happy, of course.  In all my obsession over the weather and climate change, I can reflect on my anecdotal evidence and see that we are usually colder than average.  That is part of the climate of this place--a strange meeting of northernmost and southernmost ecology.

I think we'll try to spend some time outside today, after it warms a little, and maybe take a long walk.  Weather that is neither warm nor snowy makes it feel easy to stay inside and stare out the window listlessly.  This is a good time of year to collect sticks knocked down by the wind, so I think we will do that.  We can always use more sticks around here. ;-)

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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