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Spades take up leaves
No better than spoons,
And bags full of leaves
Are light as balloons.

I make a great noise
Of rustling all day
Like rabbit and deer
Running away.

But the mountains I raise
Elude my embrace,
Flowing over my arms
And into my face.

I may load and unload
Again and again
Till I fill the whole shed,
And what have I then?

Next to nothing for weight,
And since they grew duller
From contact with earth,
Next to nothing for color.

Next to nothing for use.
But a crop is a crop,
And who's to say where
The harvest shall stop? 

- Robert Frost


November Nature

Golden hues, the smell of crispy leaves, the rustling of digging squirrels. These are some of the things that define fall for me. That and football games, apple pie, pumpkin everything, and brisk nights, not to mention a new focus on school and studies. We combined some of the above today by taking our science study out into the field to merge it with the signs of fall.

There are certain things that we study with lesson specificity, others, though, we learn more through rhetoric and reality. To me, arithmetic is learned in sprints, while reading and writing is a marathon study—slow, steady, and more a way of living than a way of studying. Science can be either. We'll learn the periodic table in a sprint, but lessons like evolution and seasons are better trained for like an ultra-marathon. These are a fundamental way of thinking about, speaking about, and seeing the world around us.

So we learn them by doing exactly that. A book can tell us about different species, it can even define for us how their aspects evolved, but only field work and discussion can give a person a feel for what those things mean and the ability to problem solve with that understanding on their own. In the woods today we talked about the adaptations species in our area have for enduring the deprivation of the winter months. We visited about seeing these adaptations at work, especially in the trees. And we chatted about the migrating location of the sun in our sky and the aspects of our orbit that define that movement.

We are several years into studying these concepts, and our introduction to them came from the early chapters of BFSU and from reading and discussions at home, but we build on that introductory learning by living the concepts and seeing them in the living things around them. This isn't homeschooling, per se. It's life schooling, or learning through life itself. This is the way of thinking, the way of being, that we strive for every day.



Fall nature

I don't do well with the cold. Although I truly love all four seasons and am thankful to live in a state that provides a good sampling of each, I prefer to spend the coldest days snuggled under a blanket with a good book and a hot toddy. Until those days arrive, though, we try to get as much outdoor time as possible, hiking in the brisk weather before its frigid sister wind arrives. 

So when today dawned bright and warm, and delightful 60 degrees and sunny, we decided to take school to the park: our favorite local birding park. We hiked the trails said hi to some of our favorite winter bird species, and enjoyed the first dawning of brilliant fall colors.