commonplace book

The power went out this morning, thanks to a car wreck some miles down the road.  I was supposed to be showering and cleaning and heading out the door, but the little old house demands electricty to pump water from the well - along with everything else - so I curled up in my pjs and finished off the book I've been reading. Well, that was nice.

Notes from the book list:

More Charlotte Mason:  learning hours start for us again next week.   When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason's Philosophy for Today is a favorite.  I try to re-read some of these chapters each year.

"It is through the process of discipleship and relationship that we must make our plea - calling the heart of the child to duty to self, authority, and dominion-seeking in right ways.  It is truly showing the child his own responsibility to choose and act as a thinking, responding, relational person.  And this should greatly impact the way we educate our children if we believe, as Miss Mason wrote, that all children want to know all knowledge and that knowledge is "delectable" to them, that they can be self-motivated to feed themselves with no outside suggestion, influence, or play upon avarice, power, or ambition by the teacher."


Edwin Way Teale's narrative of his life at Trail Wood (A Naturalist Buys An Old Farm) was such a lovely read for the summer.  I found myself waking up and longing to hear, see, know the land and the creatures around me.   I've begun including so many more of these details in my journal entries, learning to chronicle the wonders of creation alongside our everyday pursuits.

"We were watching them on the seventeenth of May - the latest we have ever seen these birds - when, after feeding heavily, all four rose together from the tree.  Usually they flew from tree to tree.   This time they ascended higher and higher.  Their flight seemed more definite and purposeful.  They headed directly away into the northeast.  We watched them as long as we could keep them in sight.  They faded from view and we saw them no more that season. [...] Living as we do among the birds, making our "field trips" by stepping outside the door, here at Trail Wood we feel a closer relationship with them.  "The birds of the naturalist," John Burroughs wrote in his first book, "can never interest us like the thrush the farm boy heard singing in the cedars at twilight as drove the cows to pasture or like the swallows that flew gleefully in the air above him as he picked the stones from the early May meadows."  Something of this dawn freshness, this nearer companionship is one of the finest features of having the birds of this old farm part of our daily lives.


I stumbled on This Life Is In Your Hands at the library and couldn't put it down.  It's the story of Melissa Coleman's childhood - daughter of Eliot Coleman of organic gardening fame.  A tragic exploration of her parents' marriage and the loss of her sister, this is still a beautifully written and sensitive book.   Coleman is remarkably tender towards her parents and I found myself longing to wrap her in a hug and grieve with her for awhile.  It is also a fascinating account of life on an idealistic homestead (the Colemans were next door neighbors to the Nearings) that I think many people would find enlightening.

"I opened my eyes in my bunk to the feeling of a hollow space in the quiet of the farmhouse, like the empty stomach under my belly button.  Lump the shape of an egg in my throat.  Chill of October morning in the air.

Earlier there'd been whispering.  Clara crying.  Footsteps across the wooden floor.  My sleep self was waiting for Mama to say, "Wake up, Lissie, it's time to go."  The words didn't come.  I should have called out, "Wait, wait for me," but sleep held me under.  The wooden door latch slid across the smooth spot, closing with a solid sound, then only the scuffling of mice in the insulation and flies bumping the windows. [...] The air filled with the shushing of feathers, a flock of geese heading south, wings beating the sky in the ancient pattern of migration.  One bird had fallen off the end, having lost the draft, his wings pumping to catch up.  Honk, honk, he called, wait, wait for me.  I could feel his heart beating in my chest as my neck arched to watch the dangling V disappear over the broken edge of forest."

What are YOU reading these days?