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Photo 41/365


May 2017 recap


Getting back to nature

Michigan spring is always iffy, but this year has been particularly offensive. In late February we were enjoying highs in the shorts range, and the warming trend continued, albeit sporadically, so as to fool us all into expecting a warm, early spring. The tree buds were early, the tulips were early, the grass was already greening. Then good old Mother Nature ripped the rug right out from under us and sent us, not even beautiful late snow, but nasty, wet, cold, cold, cold weather. The kind of cold that doesn't necessarily nip, but absolutely chills you to the bone. Plus drizzle, and ice rain, and sleet, and slush. It didn't help that we were, once again, battling respiratory crud, thank you public school experience. So only in the past week or two have we ventured back to our favorite birding spots and daydreamy woods spots, with the late morning sun just beginning again with the promise of warmth and rebirth.


Baby owls

Another beautiful, sunny morning promising soft, enjoyable afternoon temps today. Last week we went on an afternoon hike, Jon enjoying a rare respite from work in the fresh air, to go see the baby owls in Eberwhite Woods. In a nature loving, family oriented town like Ann Arbor, it didn't take long for people to find, and then news to spread about, the family of Great Horned Owls nesting in the wood adjacent to a local elementary school. With tree leaves not out yet, the nest and its growing babies have been visible, easy to find even, and the woods has seen more frequent traffic than probably any other time in its history. On our own first pilgrimage a week ago we found the owls easily, and enjoyed watching the babies peer at us intently over the side of the nest before stretching their wings and toddling around in it. 

The wonderful thing about homeschooling is flexibility. When I planning the year out, slaving over a computer calendar poolside in Stratford last summer, I commuted our science book studies in favor of hiking time for most of the month of May. Then, when good weather arrived early, and the allure of owls was too great to ignore, I swapped some April weeks for May weeks in order to free up some time to breath in teh warming air, soak up the brightening sun, and strike out into the woods in serach of owls. So that first pilgrimage was followed by several others as we watched the owls stretch and toddle with more alacrity until the first one fell out and proceded to grow and develop on the ground. 

We learned a lot from our almost daily hikes in the past week. We looked up Great Horned Owls and learned about their development—their growth, their instincts, their learned behaviors—and we learned about the goodness, or protectiveness, of the people around us. the entire experience has been incredibly sweet.


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.