Monthly Archives: June 2006

Curriculum for a Rainy Day

An horde abundance of civil servants in local, state, and the federal government dictate supervise Jim’s sixth grade curriculum. Basically his curriculum gets more scrutiny than the budgets of most countries. It wouldn’t surprise me if he has nightmares many pleasant musings about curriculum mapping, curriculum guidelines, and curriculum in service days. These days, such activities plague figure largely in the life of a public school teacher. I try to stifle limit my contributions to the litany of directives suggestions he receives, because it’s already too much to process let alone implement. His curriculum already reads like a high speed tours through Europe. You know the kind. If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium. If it’s Thursday, this must be the Bill of Rights.

So, it is only out of the deepest convictions that I offer up what I see as some great new curriculum ideas, talking points, and vocabulary for his classroom next year. To make things easier for a beleaguered Mr. Sheehan, I give definitions for the words AND pithy sentences using the word appropriately.

precipitation: all forms of water particles whether liquid or solid that fall from a cloud and reach the ground
Q: “Do you think this precipitation will ever end?”
A: “No.”

condensation: the act of making more dense as in the reduction of a gas to a liquid
“Is that condensation from today’s rain on your face or are you just happy to see me?”

dew point: the temperature at which a condensable gas, esp. water vapor, in the air starts to condense into a liquid
Q: “Do you think there has been a moment in the three months when temperatures have not been at the dew point?
A: “No.”

continuous: precipitation which does not cease or ceases only briefly
copious: very plentiful, abundant and profuse
Like the copious dirty dishes that bred and multiply during summer vacation, we also observe copious amounts of rain falling continuously.

overcast: sky completely covered in clouds
glower: to stare with sullen anger
The water logged sixth grader grappled with the great philosophical issues of his time such as “Which is worse? The glower of an overcast sky or the glower of a tired mother as she grapples with mold, mildew, and jungle rot.”

drizzle: fairly uniform precipitation comprised exclusively of very small water droplets (less than a .5 mm in diameter) very close to one another
torrential: rushing, roaring, continuous precipitation which does not cease or ceases only briefly
Q: Do you think this drizzle will change to torrential rain soon?”
A: “Yes.”

cabin fever: a condition of increased anxiety, tension, boredom caused by living for some time in a confined space
The children knew their mother was experiencing the advanced delusional stage of cabin fever when she chirped “Isn’t this fun to watch the rain beat against the windows?”

Well, I have to go. I need to start work on today’s indoor activity. Using vocabulary already in current use doesn’t begin to stretch the minds of eleven and twelve year olds. Its time for some new words. I once read that Greenland has forty different words for snow. Today, I am going to make up forty new words for rain. Jim is going to love teaching a new language to his students.

Learning these new words will be the perfect activity when it snarflecks and whindershicks all day and given this summer of scremalatious rumblesnuffins, I expect this fall will be equally cretilacious, if not more grunboomershang than ever before . The sixth graders will NEED some sort of exciting curriculum while they look out the windows at the bumblution. Lets face it, the five thousand hours of curriculum mapping Mr. Sheehan already has done is just not enough.

Bugs

Gosh, it’s really too bad the girls still have the digital camera on vacation with them. Consider yourself lucky. Without a camera, you are spared don’t get to see the plant carnage what happened during the last four days.

Lizzy is housesitting on a lake in Vermont. The owner invited the whole fam to come over and enjoy the lake. So we did. I swam, kayaked, and read trashy books. I did not think about insects. Sadly, they thought about the 24 hour a day buffet at the farm. Would it be an exaggeration to say that every bug on the planet visited Green Hope Farm for a meal during these four days? I think not.

The spiral of Mehera Marigolds? Well, it’s hard to tell what kind of plants they were, let alone that they were planted in a spiral. The “spiral” sort of looks like twigs haphazardly stuck in the ground. Ditto for the Yellow Marigolds planted in a star formation.

The Roses? From forty yards all looks well. Up close, it’s like the back of a gardening book where the editors show action shots of pest damage. I ask myself, how can so many insects do so much damage so fast? Then I think about going out to the gardens to eat worms.

One fun fact surfaces after four short days. Torrential downpours do not inhibit any bugs from high speed munching. Three of the four days I was gone it rained very hard here. The bugs braved it all to do as much damage as possible.

After I dragged myself through a full garden tour, I lay down in the grass and consoled myself with several brilliant insights:

1. Had I been at the farm during the four days of big eating, I could not have stopped more than a handful of the six zillion bugs from chowing down. It was better that I rested on a lake while they ate.

2. While Lynn has perfected weather control to an alarming degree, I have not. It is a fact that people planning a wedding around here call the caterer first and Lynn second. It is a fact that they think RAIN when they think about the kind of weather I attract. And after these four days they will think PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS as well.

3. The Red Shiso is still alive and thriving, probably because I planted it in a solid bed of all organic non toxic but slug unfriendly iron pellets. It was unrealistic to circle every other plant at the farm with said pellets and sadly, the slugs recognized this truth and made the most of it.

4. Bugs are people too.

5. I know the sound of insects eating and pooping at the same time. Do you?

This afternoon, I did triage work. I mixed Green & Tonic, Emergency Care, Flee Free, Healthy Coat, Golden Armor, Recovery, and Immune Support in water in my big spray tank and hoisted it onto my shoulders. Then I went out and sprayed every sad plant on the farm and anything else that was still green. With all those Essences blowing downwind towards me, I felt a lot better when I was done.

Time will tell if this helped the plants too.

Around the Soltstice

Emmy and Elizabeth weeded the Red Shiso at the beginning of the week and I weeded it again today in a soft rain. We have had great germination and now just need to keep the slugs off the tender baby plants.

100_2014.JPG

Despite daily rain, punctuated by wild storms of hail and high winds, we continue to smell the Flowers and tie them up after they get knocked over by the weather. The Roses are so beautiful right now. Their perfume fills the whole garden.

100_2036.JPG

The textures and colors in the herb and Rose garden are so lovely right now.

100_2008.JPG

The center circle of Catmint, (Nepeta Blue Hills Giant ) sets off all the Roses especially the Mary Rose which grows up in the middle of this circle.The lime green of the Angelica in the foreground contrasts nicely with the soft gray Lamb’s Ear (Stachys lanata). I made an Essence from Lamb’s Ear for the first time this week. Hopefully next week I can post a description of this gem and some of the other new Flower Essences I have been making.

100_2039.JPG

Across this garden, the Crambe Cordifolia contrasts with the maroon of the Smoke Tree (Cotinus coggygria purpureus). Smoke Tree was a small Flowering tree that I had never seen until I moved to New Hampshire. It seems to like this climate and flourishes with little supervision in the dooryards of many old New Hampshire farms.

100_2040.JPG

There is a white Rose on the other side of the Smoke Tree that also benefits from the Smoke Tree’s dusky tones.
100_2041.JPG
The Clematis and Peonies also outrageous at the Solstice. So much beauty!

The Kindness of Strangers

At yesterday’s breakfast there was a small box sitting on the kitchen table with a return address from someone I did not know. I opened the box carefully and found precious gifts inside.

A new friend named Ruth read in the blog how late the gardens, specifically the Cherokee Trail of Tears Garden, were going in.

Ruth said in her letter to me, “I live in Huntsville, Alabama which is on the Trail of Tears. I felt maybe I should send you something from this area that would carry the spirit of this place. Maybe these things will help this garden.”

Not only the garden Ruth, but me too.

Each object was tenderly wrapped in beautiful pink, orange, and gold paper.

100_1997.JPG

I opened the first parcel and found this. Ruth explained, “one is a rock with a fossil in it- we find these things all over this area and up into Tennessee where many of the Native Americans on the Trail came from. Much of our earth is made up of fossil rocks- it’s not all the red clay that people associate with the south-”

100_1999.JPG

Ruth’s next parcel contained this. Ruth notes, “I’m also sending an arrowhead which I found in my garden. I have found several there, and they probably were left by ancestors of many who were sent on the Trail. Actually I am not sure whether it’s an arrowhead or a scraping tool!”

Ruth’s final gift was a tin of altar sand from her personal prayer altar. She explained, “Finally, I’m sending some beautiful red sand from the banks of the Cahaba River, which is South of here. It isn’t on the Trail of Tears, but I felt moved to send it anyways!” She went on to explain, “Maybe because I have had a bowl of it on my altar for a long time, and it’s had many tears cried over it during hard times ( it’s seen a lot of smiles, too, though!).”

What sweet comfort and support offered from a stranger. Thank you Ruth. You are a stranger no more to me. I am grateful for you reaching across the illusion of strangerness to remind me of our common ground, the tears and the smiles of our similar journeys. The fact that we all walk trails of tears at times gives us so many opportunities to connect through our vulnerabilities. I am so grateful you did. You lightened my load!

My gratitude to all of you extends in so many directions. Even as I spend most of my daylight hours out in the gardens, even as my hands do garden tasks, I remain so grateful for all of your many, many kindnesses and think of so many of you with love and gratitude. Your love and encouragement in all its forms lifts me up. I thank you all.

100_2000.JPG

At the Angels request, Ruth’s gifts. including the paper and ribbon. were put in a beautiful red pottery bowl Ben threw and glazed. The bowl was then placed at the center of the Cherokee Trail of Tears Garden at the beginning of the spiral of brassicas.

The Angels explain, “Each of you beloveds necessarily walk your own Cherokee Trail of Tears. The Grandmothers of the Cherokee Trail of Tears remain a steady presence of comfort and support as you walk. We, the Angels overlighting your journeys, never leave your side. We love you and are with you always. Yet even as we remain steadfast companions on your journeys, we are glad when you find kindred spirits from the human community. This gift of Ruth’s, placed at the heart of this garden, expresses the interconnectedness of all life, but it also represents the great gift you give to self and others when you reach across to another on the Trail and offer your love.”

Down in the Berry Patch

100_1992.JPG

June. Also about weeding. This week, Emily, Lizzy, and I have worked in the berry patch. We have been down there for three days straight and we are STILL not done. Someone told me a few days ago that it had rained 21 out of the last 28 days. This was a lot of encouragement for weeds. The berry patch has never been more of a jungle.

The weed situation was compounded because I did not get an initial once over weeding and mulching done in the berries in April. Consequently all the bindweed that would have come up easily then became an immense tangle smothering the Raspberries, Red Currants, Gooseberries and Black Currants. The small amount of crab grass in the Blueberries became a lush thicket of grass, so our work there was really more like sod removal than weeding.

Emily began the week saying she liked the process of unwinding bindweed from each Raspberry cane and following it to the ground to uproot. Now I think she will run for the hills at the very mention of the plant.

100_1991.JPG

Here she is day three in the berries, working her way down the rows patiently.

100_1989.JPG

Lizzy moved in to mulch every place we cleared. We knew she had had all she could take of this activity when on load four or five she fell off the tailgate into the wheelbarrow which flipped on its side landing her on the grass. No doubt this free fall will become part of some choregraphed dance piece.