Last week was a dreary week, and the rain and gray skies discouraged us from spending a whole lot of time outside. When we met for co-op, the boys played well for a while during freeplay, but eventually started bickering over toys and having trouble getting along. We couldn’t wait to get them into the woods, because we knew… once a child is in the woods, the magic happens!
We had planned to do a fun outdoors craft- building a small hideout out of pine branches. We hiked along, clippers and rope in hand, but we ended up not needing them. After we crossed the makeshift bridge…
And climbed the Leafy Ridge…
We arrived at the top of the hill in the Poke Berry Forest.
Don’t eat them! They are no-no berries. The roots (poke root) have saved me from relying on antibiotics or visiting the doctor’s office during a bout of mastitis, but even with the herbal tincture form, as my husband (a homeopath) says, “a little goes a long way”.
So, this is where the children delve into the world of imagination. At the top of the hill is a huge pile of logs and branches near a nice old tree.
And this is where they set up their ambush…
This ambush is part of an epic adventure the children live in whenever they come together in the woods. It all began over a year ago when one morning, a little boy in our co-op discovered an interesting shaped tree branch in a huge puddle in his yard. “My Indian Father left me this canoe,” he said. The other children were intrigued. Soon, they too had Indian Fathers (well, except for the very logical choleric)! They recount the adventures and battles they faced back in the days of their Indian Fathers, and sometimes these Indian Fathers resurface at home at the most… convenient times. “Peas?” My 4 year old looks up at me. “I’m sorry, I can’t eat those; my Indian Father told me not to.” Hmm. Personally, I’m just glad there are no Indian Mothers as our poor husbands have had such a hard time measuring up to all the glorious deeds and doings of these Indian Fathers!
Today, they are waiting in ambush for the “Skull Kids” who defeated one Indian Father long ago in a dreaded battle. Well, it’s the funniest thing the way little boys can’t sit still very long at home, but here in their ambush they not only kept still for over half an hour, but they even told us mamas to whisper! The woods truly does weave a spell of magic, eh?
Mama Monica and I decided not to disturb their imaginative play with our planned craft- we can do it another time. We sat on fallen logs and nursed our wee ones, planned future co-op activities, and spotted hardy little blossoms and mushrooms still daring to hold their little heads up in the chill and cold.
For me, these moments are why I do what I do. Unless rain is pouring down in buckets or the temperature is well below freezing, we can come here and restore balance and peace. The woods seem to be a natural anti-depressant, an anti ADHD remedy, even an aphrodisiac (no matter what state we are in when we enter the woods, my husband and I almost always exit holding hands!).
In this place where the old and young trees take hold of the earth and twist and turn within it, their grounding energy centers me. When we get the doldrums in our house, a walk outside, and especially in the woods, can change our moods and re-energize us. My favorite thing about Waldorf education is the emphasis on going outside with your kids- rain or shine, every day. I often reflect on how we can spend so much time inside in the first place, disconnected from it all? I dream of the woods being my home, my garden being my art studio, and my house being that place I go to once in a while.
I’ll never forget the “aha moment” I had when I was reading a Ringing Cedars book and the main character, Anastasia, speaks about the beauty of trees- and how we cut them down to build these houses and furniture and consider them so valuable and beautiful. And maybe they are… but how many of the things we make with trees are as awe-inpiring and grand as a tree itself? Perhaps this is why I don’t have a lot of craft tutorials on my blog. I love Waldorf crafts because they use natural materials and are beautiful and functional, using quality materials that promote such worthy livelihoods- bee-keeping, shepherding, woodworking. And it is so important to teach our children to use their hands to build and create with confidence. Yet… rather than bringing so many of these things into my home, I’d love to get out of the house, be part of this natural world, and use the very landscape as our craft project- and encourage you to do that with your children, too!
My life project is creating a little garden paradise right here. On just a small piece of land, so much can be done. I blogged a while ago about creating a “space of love” for your family and future generations… a place where your loved ones are supported not only by the physical provisions- nut trees, berry bushes, and other useful plants (like quick-growing willows for basketry material) which create a living fence around the edges of your land (perhaps container herbs like this in an apartment or city dwelling)- but also a place where the fragrance of your dreams touches all who enter and the subtle vibrations of love and energy set in motion by your inner work and garden-gloved hand form a fortress for the soul and body stronger than those any builder can raise up.
Only we can do this for our family- no hired worker, no stranger to our space. For the seeds I plant in the fertile soil of my imagination and the physical seeds I plant in the earth next spring are one, and no two different hands can produce the exact same result! The fruit will be imbued with the energy of its sower, and if you don’t believe me try a little experiment next year… take two seeds from the same seed packet, and both you and another family member can hold one tightly in your hands for a minute, or under your tongue so they are encoded with you biological essence (perspiration or saliva) and then plant them in separate areas of your garden with similar lighting and landscape features, perpared with the same type of soil. Visit your plants often, and take care of them through the season… then wait and see what fruits they produce. Early experiments have yielded fascinating results, with the harvest varying in both shape, texture, fragrance, and taste- each to suit the needs of their respective caretakers! Why? Living plants are incredibly receptive to the data we give them about us. They grow to be useful and adapted to our needs. And what happens when we can grow much of what we need and have extra resources to trade with others who have things we don’t produce ourselves? It may seem outlandish, but here in Amish country I see it working beautifully every day. Forget Occupy Wall Street- Occupy Your Yard!!!
As the snow begins to fall here, it signals that Winter Sleep will come soon. I will listen in on the dreams of the land as it slumbers beneath its blanket of snow. Together we will determine where each new little tree will go, where each garden bed will lay. It is not only the physical work of planting them and nurturing them which brings fruition; oh no, perhaps that is just a tiny fraction of it! For me, everything begins with divine inspiration and loving thought. Anastasia’s word, “Co-Create”, fills me with meaning and purpose. Here, with God, I co-create the wonders He first imagined… I am created in the image of the divine, and each physical manifestation begins as a seed idea. The ideas take root, they grow, they are made vibrant with care and attention and the willingness of my whole being. Later, when my peach trees bear peaches and my gardens overflow, I wil be reminded of where it all began, here under the snowy blanket where Mother Earth and I dream together.
So, all these physical manifestations do indeed begin with a dream and a thought. Just under a year ago, I sat by the woodstove in my rocking chair dreaming of how I could develop the financial resources to bring the wholesome natural supplies for a living education to my children in our homeschool. I began with nothing, really; nothing in my bank account but the echo of that dream. As I formulated the idea of a buying co-op that would support those who are really invested in Waldorf lifestyles, the material world began to comply. I imagined the suppliers we would work with and the products we would offer; I came up with a magic number- 100- of families who would join. I felt I could handle providing service for 100 families, but more than that would be beyond my capabilities as I also strive to love my family and develop our land.
Today, we are here. Less than a handful of spots remains until we are at capacity. It is an occasion to celebrate, and so I am offering a giveaway to both get the word out to those last few families destined to join and celebrate the dream, fully mature- everything I hoped it would be! I have learned so much about myself and about being effective in this world by undertaking this venture.
Fear seems a shadow of an old existence, confidence that we can co-create this world together and accomplish what we are meant to do- if only we will be still and quiet enough to intuit and receive it from the spiritual realms- replaces that. I will bring this confidence and experience to my future work in the next year- I will be able to focus the energy that was expended this year on building the co-op and marketing it to get the word out, to developing toys and tools with the Amish to support my local economy and bring wonderful, lovingly handcrafted pieces to your incredible families! Mama Monica and I are also working on an amazing DVD that will make a powerful impact in your relationship and interaction with your babies and small children!
So, back to the giveaway… one winner will receive $50 worth of co-op credit (whether or not you’re a member) towards our November 15th order (remember, we will be offering select Kinderkram, Ostheimer, and Sarah’s silks items!), a second winner will receive a free copy of Christmas Crafts, a new book from Steiner Books with Waldorf inspired Christmas crafts and gift ideas which we are adding to the catalog for our November order, and… as soon as we hit 100 (I think we are just a day or two away!), I will celebrate by offering a free membership!
To enter the giveaway, share about it on a social network or blog. An extra point if you subscribe to the blog or like Cedar Ring Circle Waldorf Supply Co-op on facebook here. Please leave just one comment, telling me which of the points you’ve earned, this will help me tally it up easier. 😉 Giveaway closes on November 7th! Good luck, my friends! And thank you to everyone who has ever whispered a word of support or encouragement, or shared enthusiasm with me- the raindrops that watered the seeds and the rays that warmed it.