After several dreary days of cold rain, the sun was peeking out and the temperature promised to be in the 60’s. My pile of dishes (how did it get that big?) and a few lessons were all that was standing in the way of heading to the park! Finally after lunch and a nap and a rather hasty foray in form drawing, we were off.
The boys had fun balancing on the benches.
We love finding various mushrooms. There were so many different kinds of mushrooms at this park, and we must have seen at least 300 mushrooms during our visit! What I wouldn’t give for a better knowledge of which mushrooms are safe to eat. I know many little woodland creatures are busy dragging them away to dry and keep them sustained in the winter.
There was also a vast expanse of milkweed… oh how fun to pick a few and let their white fluff fly in the wind!
And of course, wherever you find lots of milkweed you are sure to find monarch caterpillars!
The park is next to a golf course, and since it was fairly deserted today, we were able to walk some of the curves of the putting greens (since that is what we are working on in form drawing now)…
I brought the children to this park because I know a stand of oak trees grows here, the perfect setting for a special story I created for them. It was inspired by this poem in the Wynstones Press “Autumn” book.
“Acorn”, said the old oak tree,
“It is time for you to go;
You must say goodbye to me
And fall to the ground below.
There you will lie, buried deep
Under the autumn leaves to sleep,
While around the north winds blow
And the fields are white with snow.
Mother Earth will keep you warm,
Guard you safely from all harm.
Then when you waken, by and by,
A budding twig, so tender, small.
See! Above you near the sky
The forest trees, so strong and tall.
Hear them whisper low and clear
‘Welcome, tiny oak tree dear’.”
Here is my story…
The Little Acorn
Once upon a time there lived a little acorn in a tall, tall oak tree. He grew there beside his many brothers and sisters, nestled amongst the green leaves and rocked by the swaying of the branches in the wind. He was a happy little acorn and all summer long he grew, and he grew, and he grew until he was quite round and fat. His little top could scarcely cover him!
The days passed and the summer days drew to an end. The nights grew cold and all around him, the sheltering leaves which had protected him from storms and whispered the rustling secrets of the trees began to transform from green to brown. As the autumn winds grew stronger, the leaves began to drop down to the ground. “Little acorn,” they called, “we are jumping down to keep the earth warm for the winter. The sun is very busy on the other side of the world, and he won’t be able to shine for very long each day until next spring. If we don’t jump down and huddle against her, Mother Earth will grow cold. We can share with her the warmth of the sun which we’ve stored up within us all summer long.”
“Ah, so that is why the leaves are changing colors,” he said wonderingly as he looked all around his forest home. Sure enough, the cool green leaves were showing their bright, fiery reds, oranges, yellows, and golds; and laughingly they danced their way down to cover Mother Earth, forming a blanket full of warmth they had stored from the sun.
The little acorn’s brothers and sisters began to drop down to the leaves, who carefully cushioned them. But he was too afraid to jump! Eventually he was almost all alone on his tree, one of the very few acorns left. The leaves called to him again, wondering why he wouldn’t jump down. He answered them, “I am just a little acorn on a very high branch. I’m afraid to jump; whatever shall I do?”
It just so happened the Oak Fairy happened to be passing by, visiting all the oaks of the forest as she does each autumn. She blows gently on the leaves that have trouble letting go, and reassures the little acorns who still need to jump down below.
“Little acorn,” she said, “I see that you are indeed on a high branch. I will ask my friend the squirrel to carry you down.” The little acorn thanked her and waited patiently for his special journey. Soon came the busy gray squirrel with flashing black eyes and pluming tail.
“I will come and fetch you, and bring you down to a cozy ground nest I have made for you and many of your brothers and sisters. You will be nestled in leaves all winter long. Here, I have a pocket in my cheeks to carry you down.” And so the gray squirrel popped the little acorn in his cheek pocket and quick as a wink, carried him down to the ground. He set the little acorn amongst his brothers and sisters, tucked under oak leaves and soil and moss. Then the Oak Fairy visited the nest and, as she does for all the acorns great and small in her woods, she sang a gentle lullaby.
“Rockabye acorn, from the treetop;
When the wind blows the last leaves will drop.
They cover you gently so that you may sleep
All through the winter under snow buried deep.”
And the little acorn slept the whole winter through!
Here is the Oak Fairy I made…
She is inspired by this tutorial from Twig and Toadstool, with a few variations. Mama Monica and I began making these at homeschool co-op last week. Instead of wooden beads (which we didn’t happen to have on hand), we used acorn bottoms. We carefully made little holes in the base of the acorns by hammering a nail in, then removing the nail and inserting a pipe cleaner until it was nice and snug (you may want to add a bit of hot glue to fasten the pipe cleaner tight, just before you insert it).
Then we pinned leaves to wool felt and cut around them, and added simple stitching in embroidery thread around the edges because we thought it looked nice. I stuffed mine with cotton balls, too. I also made pigtails for my Leaf Fairies, with little bits of thread, like so…
I have an Oak Fairy and a Sassafras Fairy so far.
I will have to come up with a story for her… and the three others I plan to make. When I finish, Cedar Ring Papa should also be done installing our “Nature Tree” in our school/play room. I can’t wait to hang them all there!
We had a wonderful time at co-op last week, and found a tiny turtle who needed help crossing a road, as well as a stick bug (can you spot him?).
So after our fun in the park, we were heading home and I turned on the radio. There was a frost advisory- oh no! Cedar Ring Papa was away, so it was just me against the clock. I started around 6 pm and worked like crazy to get all our basil, green tomatoes, and peppers in the house. When I finished, I was working by the light of the filling moon. They will have to ripen in the house, although goodness knows where I can store them all!? Any tips on ripening tomatoes, garden mamas? Due to the drought we had midsummer, everything sort of paused for a while and didn’t start growing again until mid August. So it’s a little bit behind schedule…
Wow, so much basil. I think I will spend most of tomorrow making pesto! Mmm, and some fresh bread to go with it.
A few quick co-op updates- it’s going to be an incredible October! We will be doing an order from Weir Dolls & Crafts for several of their Waldorf doll-making kits and doll/gnome knitting kits (great crafts to start on for Christmas), and Reg Down who wrote the Tiptoes Lightly series emailed me (that made my day!) and asked me if we’d like to carry his eight books (YES!). Sarah of Sarah’s Silks dropped me an email the other day and offered to create special cotton and silk packages just for us (yay!). So I have A LOT to add to the catalog over the next few weeks (tons of wooden toys, too!).
After harvesting all those tomatoes and peppers, and feeling incredibly bountiful, I couldn’t help but reflect on how bountiful the co-op feels now, too- almost 90 members! Just a few more to go until we are at capacity. My original dream was to reach 100 families within a year (by January). We are definitely on track to meet that goal, and I think any more than 100 families would really be too much for me to adequately service… I am pretty much on my own these days with submitting orders and packing, and I want to make sure I can meet everyone’s needs and still meet my family’s needs. Every minute is precious with little ones around…