Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Reflecting on the Four Seasons minus One

One of my favorite metaphors is the seasons. For that reason, I think about my life is like fashion.

My Spring season began when I was born way back in the mid-fifties . I was a typical girl growing up and going to school in the sixties and seventies. Or so I thought. Looking back, I grew up with little knowledge of most things even though I was a good student. I always loved school and loved books. That was odd because I grew up in a home without books, and my parents did not seem to take much active interest in my schoolwork. I chalk that up to living in the “age of the expert” and the “hands-off parent.”

After my college graduation, my husband and I moved to Mississippi, and I enter the Summer of my life. I worked as a registered nurse with crusty old men at the VA and later as a director of nursing in a nursing home while he went to seminary. After his graduation, he became the pastor of a small country church and our family of four children began.

The children all went to an old-fashioned one room schoolhouse together. And I was their teacher.

Our introduction to home education came through — not surprising — a book. You’ve heard of that adage “Judging a book by its cover,” well, I often buy books because of their covers. On a visit to a bookstore when our oldest was barely two years old, a book on the bottom display shelf caught my eye as I stepped foot into the bookstore. This book had a pale blue dust jacket with a red apple in the corner and the words Home-Spun Schools spread across the front. I was already in love with home — anything because I loved being at home and learning the art of home-making. I picked the book up, flipped through it a bit, and knew I had to have this book. That seemingly impulse purchase set our family on a providentially designed journey that would last twenty wonderful years.

Life with our young family consisted of days at home with a routine of chores, school, naps, and play with weekly library trips using that old Avon cardboard box to tote our more than sixty checkouts each week. Needless to say, our librarians loved us.

I grew personally during this time as a reader as I enjoyed the children’s literature and juvenile fiction that I had missed and never read as a child. I was thrilled with the new knowledge I was learning as I taught the children’s studies. Somehow I realized that there was something wrong with the A’s and B’s education I received since I did not know which side the Confederates fought for in the Civil War, when I had never heard of Beowulf, much less read it, and had no idea of history before the American Revolution. My love of learning had taken off. But I had a lot of ground to make up.

To make our drives back home shorter, we moved to West Virginia. Our home was still in the country and smack-dab on top of a ridge. We then understood that saying that the legs on cows in West Virginia are shorter on one side than the other. Nothing was flat where we lived, but the views were terrific.

With the opportunity to move back to Virginia, our dream of having a farm for the children to grow up on and a place that they could always call home came to fruition. Soon after moving, our menagerie began with four Angora goats. Next came the Daisy milk cow and her yearly calf which must be the subject of a storytelling speech in the future. One daughter realized her dream of having her own horse and one son, rabbits. I got my chickens and eventually, my husband raised a yearly pig.

The menagerie has since moved on with the exception of the farm cats and dog and the lone Mr. Roosterman. The children have grown into adults. And my husband and I are entering the empty-nest time, our Fall season.

Because I have spent the last twenty-some years teaching, I plan to continue to teach, but now in a traditional classroom. I still want to continue with my own self-education and reading.

My ambitions are to store a wealth of memories that I may call upon if I am graced with years in the future Winter season of my life.

But for now, I can empathize with the esoteric meaning Robert Frost evidently had in mind when he said “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

For the earlier edition of Fine Art Friday, here's what I've been doing:

Dawn Thinking. . . . . . . . . . .Night Thinking

both by Deborah DeWit Marchant

It's off tomorrow until Monday for the last big hooray at the beach.

One week from today, I start teachers' days. Where has time gone? I'm still busily preparing and know that I will not get it all done. Not that I thought I would. But, I'm better prepared than I was!

See you next week.


Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

LOVE that artwork!

I grew up in a home without books, too. Well, except The National Enquirer later on (yes, really).

Books to me became my friends as well as my escape at times. My mother never understood it but she encouraged me by always buying the latest Nancy Drew. :)

Kathleen Hamilton said...

My story is so similar to yours (right down to our birth year). I read a lot, but not really "good" stuff as I would now define good), but there were basically no books in our home. I lived in the library. I received all A's in school, and was even valedictorian of my high school class. What a joke. Where our paths diverge is in the college graduation and nursing. I have a bunch of college classes under my belt, but no degree. I worked in finance departments before I had children.

Anyway, I miss your more frequent posts, but I'm so happy for all that is going on in your life. I'll keep praying that all you need to do gets finished in time. I can't wait to hear how your school year goes!

Oh, I had never heard of Beowulf, either. :-/