Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Where I think about life, death, and how to make the most of our time

As summer slowly draws to a close and the new school year looms on the not too distant horizon, I have been in a somewhat contemplative mood. I am hopeful that the changes being implemented in our curriculum this year will naturally lead us into a life I wish for us. I want to foster a lively curiosity in my children in the world around them, how it works and how it came to be what we see today.

This week has been most out of the ordinary for our family. We have been up early, packing lunches, and heading out the door for VBS and theater camp. While I think it has been good in some ways, (the older kids have been most helpful getting the little ones ready and helping to pack lunches), I look with longing to the return of our mornings that are ours alone.

Realizing that we were low on bread, I got ready for the day and then walked down to the bakery to procure freshly baked bread. Have I ever told you that our village very much reminds me of my father's small home town in West Virginia? The landscape, the smallness, the slowness are all so similar, I find myself reminiscing quite frequently of my childhood summer visits to my grandparent's house.  As I walked down the hill this morning on the single lane road that is used as a two-way street, I drifted back to the summertime in West Virginia, sauntering down the gravel alleyway with my grandfather. With his pipe in his mouth, he never walked, he sauntered. The alley had well-worn tire ruts, with lots of potholes strewn about, usually holding a small amount of muddy water. We kids would either walk beside him, or maybe try walking along the top rail of the white wooden fence on the side of the alleyway. We would eventually end up at the small brick post office, and then, more often than not, would stop at the local ice cream shop.

Life was slow and it was all mine. We didn't have to tell anyone where we were going. We just explored. I remember standing with my eyes closed by the crick, just listening to the water run over the rocks, breathing in the smell of moss and old railroad ties that formed the footbridge.  I would lie in the damp, cool grass searching for a four-leaf clover. I would be hard-pressed to recall with such vividness any of my days in the classroom. That is why I am planning to spend less time at a table and more time experiencing the world around us.

We returned home this afternoon, tired and worn out. I had pictured myself relaxing for a bit before starting dinner, letting the kids just chill out too. But Anna's shrill cry of "Mama! I think Marlin is dead!" made me dash down the stairs.  Her fish was indeed no longer living. Little coincidences are seldom lost on me. On the drive home, we had listened to the chapter in the Ramona books where they had to bury their pet cat. After discussing whether to bury or flush, she decided to flush. But she just could not do it herself. I really had a hard time too, but I gently laid him in the toilet, closed the lid, closed my eyes, and hit the flusher. I hit it again for good measure. Then Peter lifted the lid and confirmed that Marlin was on his way to a better place.

And now, I think that tonight is definitely a 'mustgo' night for dinner. As in 'everything must go that is in the fridge'. That way, we have easy cleanup and can go on a walk and talk or explore or just contemplate life in the fields of rural Germany. Too bad I don't smoke a pipe ;)

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