on real things, and the traces of His kindness


"In Miss Fogerty's room, sprays of cape gooseberries brightened the corner by the weather chart, and such seasonal joys as collecting hazelnuts and mushrooms enlivened the children's days. 

Miss Fogerty gave her usual autumn handwork lesson on the making of chairs for a dolls' house from horse chestnuts, pins and wool.  This involved four pins for the legs, five for the back, and simple weaving of the wool, in and out of the latter, to form a comfortable back rest for the diminutive occupants.

This operation was always accompanied by heavy breathing, enormous concentration and ultimate rapture...

Agnes Fogerty enjoyed this annual instruction in the art of miniature furniture making, and felt great satisfaction in watching the children bearing home the results of their labours.

'I suppose,' she commented to Dorothy, over tea that afternoon, 'that they get so much more satisfaction from making a three-dimensional object.  I mean, one would far rather have a cat than a picture of a cat.'

'Although, of course, a picture would be less bother,' observed her headmistress, after due thought." 

~Miss Read, At Home in Thrush Green

I found this quote in my book yesterday, a pleasant little synchronicity since my mind is so very much on these things right now: 

...on the importance of practical skills for children;on the sadness of a society that warehouses children instead of giving them meaningful work; on the proper place for virtual technology in the life of a spiritual being; on what happens to a brain when it has little need to store memories?  (Nicholas Carr talks about this in The Shallows, how we "outsource" memory now to photographs, computers and smartphones, et al and what that does to the continuing development of our brains.   Radiolab had a similar piece this weekend - which I can't find online anywhere, unfortunately - on the brain differences between caged birds, who never had to worry about food arriving daily in the bowl, and wild birds who carefully hunted and stored seed for the winter.  Want to guess who was smarter?)  (HT:  Elizabeth for the technology piece)

Anyway, I have a few thoughts on handwork based on some questions brought up by my homeschooling post last week.  I'll share those in the next few days if time allows. 

The flowers in the pictures are from my peegee hydrangea.  A few years ago, when I was feeling rather sad and discouraged about the little old house, someone gave me a copy of Country Living (not exactly the place to go for comfort for a discontented heart.)  The feature article was about an artist who grew masses of peegee hydrangeas and dried them each fall, creating gorgeous displays in her home.  That article made me feel even more down, because all I had planted around the little old house were weeds and scrubby old bushes.   But I remembered a scraggly little bush down by the well house whose leaves looked hydrangea-like, so in a fit of optimism I determined to start watering it and see what would happen. 

What happened was that after four years of care, that little bush turned out to be a peegee hydrangea absolutely bursting with flowers.   I gathered them this weekend before the rains could drown them and brought them all inside to dry.  There are bouquets of pink and green hydrangeas on every surface - every one of them reminding me of God's tender kindness.  Isn't He good?

I pray you find the traces of His kindness toward you today as well. 

God bless and much love.