We’re having a beautiful week here, so warm that I have barefoot children. We’re doing our best to finish our work early enough each day so we can spend the last couple of hours before dark outside. Well, my work is never done, so I’m doing my best to ignore it for at least an hour a day. Seth has been studying our trees, and knows which are the largest on our property (the one that he is pictured in front of with Silas on his shoulders is #2) and where nice specimens of different species are. I commented to a friend the other day that it’s really gratifying when you teach your child something, and given a few years for that knowledge to grow, find that they know more than you on the topic. (As an aside, I thought about this some more, and the fact that it’s only neat when what you are teaching is something good. Because they pick up more than what we want them to, the good and the bad. There’s nothing more humbling than seeing one of your negative traits show up in one of your children. We won’t talk about that….) I’ve been teaching my children how to identify trees since they were little, and Seth is now better at identifying them than I am. I oftentimes find myself asking him questions, though I am the one who went to forestry school. This makes me happy.
A funny thing happened this week: we discovered two plants in the swamp at the back of our property that I bought specimens of earlier this fall to plant around our house: winterberries and buttonbushes. I laughed when I discovered the buttonbushes. My local nursery special ordered one for me, and evidently they are already well established here! The swamp can’t really be accessed in the summer months, so I hadn’t noticed. There are huge patches of winterberries and they are really gorgeous. You have to wade through the mud to reach them, but it’s worth it. I love tromping around in the swamp this time of year! You only have to stand still and quiet for a minute before the birds start working and fluttering and talking. Then, walking again, there are beaver lodges, and cattails to see, and pileated woodpeckers flying overhead. Jonny sighs when he sees a tree girdled by beavers, but then we talk about the fact that beavers mate for life, and at one point were hunted to near extinction. We’ve both been affected by reading David Kline’s essays in Great Possessions. Jonny reads them over my shoulder at night. I’ve finished up the autumn essays and those that aren’t tied to a season, and am doing my best to save the winter ones until winter actually begins. Mr. Kline feels like a kindred spirit.
I wound yarn for two projects last week: a shawl I plan to knit using yarn I dyed with dahlia leaves and flowers from a friends cutting gardens (the green and the beige), and a bonnet for Mabel using yarn I dyed with the madder root I grew back in our old garden. These are special projects, tied up with memories. The very best kind.