impossibleway: (Warning)
Just down the road from the Ice Rocks, is Alligator Back. Being so close, just 2/10 of a mile, the conditions could not have been more different! It was sunny and warm. We sat at the overlook drinking tea and watched heat waves rise up from the grass.  But, like where we are, the climate of the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of great variability.  The wind often blew in clouds and cool air.  It paid to keep a hat on or have the coats piled nearby.

Traveler at the Alligator Back

The Arkansas Traveler and I took in the sights while the children climbed rocks.  You can see them in the link above.  They joyfully climbed and hiked for about two hours.

The View

These are views I never tire of.  It is interesting to note that the Parkway itself is a fairly narrow strip of land.  It feels like another world when you are on it.

Above the Ice Rocks

This is the area just above the Ice Rocks.  You can see them pre-road here.


So, the weather. A warm rain fell on us while we ate our sandwiches, just feet from the Ice Rocks where it was so cold. Then, the sun came out. The wind blew in fits and threatened to carry our tea cups off. The air was still. It was warm again. One thing we didn't see was fog, for once. Down in West Jefferson, we went to the Ashe County Cheese Company for Mike. We came out to find it raining, and then it started to hail as we were leaving town! I had just remarked about how we hadn't experienced hail yet, in all the changing conditions of the day. Back home, it felt warm-ish and then it started to snow that night.  Honestly, we are somewhat used to this kind of fluctuation and I really enjoy wild weather, when we are prepared for it.  Goodness, we had such a good time.
impossibleway: (Winter Fields)
To open and close Winter with a visit to the Snail Place and the sight of rime ice seems fitting.  I think that is what we have done, this time around.  I never really dreamed that the strongest parts of the season would be at its beginning and end, but that's the way it's gone.  It was very windy yesterday, but we bundled up to enjoy one last(?) romp in the snow. The ice had blown off, but I could find signs of it on top of the snow, little branches with frost going to one side.

Snowy Ridge

The valleys were clear, as you can see, but the mountains still had plenty of snow.  Just take your pick!

In the Wind

It was quite windy along this little ridge.  I was quite glad I'd made the last-minute decision to put on a second pair of socks and grab a pair of Mike's mittens to put over mine.  He's always off in some warmer place, so I'll use them for him.  We were all wearing scarves (me in my cowl), but the wind was so swift that I had to shield the side of my face with my hand.

Up the Hill

The children made themselves busy up on the little rise where their den was built.  You can see it on the right in the background.  They would climb the little hill (a road cut) and slide down.  Nature's Playground :: the Original Playground, I like to call it.


I enjoyed the drifted snow.  You can see some of it flying in the picture here--Laurel was coming up beside me when I snapped this.  I really like this photo.

Snowy Road

After that, I took a walk up the tower road, just a bit.  Walking in overalls makes a person a bit stiff, though quite warm.  It was a good, short workout, trying to heft myself along.

Tea in the Snow

Back at the bottom, Willow and Laurel had snow in their boots, so it was time to head home.  We enjoyed our tea first, and I made the sad discovery that I broke the Thermos.  This one was new to us and I dropped it by the car when I was getting it out.  Holding it up to the light confirmed that the glass inside was shattered.  I've never had that happen before, but I've always been very careful.


If I were to sum up one goal for Nature School, it would be Love of Place.  It took me a long time to get to this, from the early days of camping with my parents.  Twenty-five years, I guess.  For a long time, I wanted to know the names of things, to catalogue random tidbits, to get to the top of the mountain or the big waterfall.  The over-all mood of a place: the feelings it gives of peace or nostalgia or wildness (like trees stunted by the wind)--those are the quiet gifts.  I guess they do take time to come to fruition.  Certain places wouldn't be quite so special to me if I didn't have a long history with them.  They've been there through the years, both the same and changing, and that has been a real blessing.  I want my children to have a personal store of memories in natural places, of relationships with the land, that they can draw from later on when the human version of life gets to be too much.
impossibleway: (Warning)
That was the forecast for this weekend, instead of that mythic snow.  I think my visions of being cozily holed up together were a little too clear.  Whenever I can see something with too much detail, it doesn't happen.  It's funny how that works.  Oh, well!

Chestnut OakWe spent the time productively.  Since it was cold, I defrosted the deep freeze.  This is always a big job, but the results are so pleasing.  It's also a good time to take stock of what's left.  Obviously, I could just grow pumpkins for Jack O'Lanterns this year with no ill effects.  There was little that was thrown away, so that felt nice.  We all like to avoid waste.  At the same time, Mike brought home a carload of wood for next Winter, plenty of apple that was already cut into perfect lengths in sizes that would be just right for our fire place!  We often find or are given free firewood.  It is so nice how things like that work out.

I spent the afternoon on some basement work, trying to make the space more un-usable.  Yes, un-usable.  I want to spend less time down there!  Storing the toy library down there means that I often have a big mess.  Either I take things down and get other things without putting it all back, or there are raids to the library.  While it is fun to discover old toys or have variety, I need things to be static for awhile.  We have some challenging developmental things going on right now, so it seemed best to just move it all off-premises down the street to Grandad's old apartment.  More on that later, perhaps.

Katherine and I walked around the Settlers' Museum yesterday, first out to the old farmhouse, then on the AT back to the schoolhouse, and then on the birding trail back to the farm.  We walked a lot!  I remember Ruth Goodman saying that women need lots of walking in order to feel good, and I cannot help but agree.  Maybe it is because so much of our work is in one spot, over and over?  I think I have spent half my life standing over the kitchen sink.  Nonetheless, it was so good to get out in that cold sunshine to enjoy talking and moving.  I know we were both markedly more relaxed when we said farewell, and that is the important thing.

This week is supposed to be quite cold, more like February.  Wednesday will see highs in the twenties with lows in the teens.  While many places have fruit trees blooming, we have been blessed in our little spot.  The blueberries were put to bed and the apples are still sleeping, as are the berry brambles.  The wind may have blown off the covers in the night, but that is soon fixed.  I told Roan we'd be doing a lot of covering and uncovering in the coming weeks.  It was so easy to picture a truly early Spring.  I should have known better. ;-)
impossibleway: (Picking Blueberries)
We're supposed to get three to five inches of snow tomorrow night!  Looking at these sunny photos from yesterday, it's a little hard to believe!  The winds blew in rain during the night and they'll blow again this afternoon to carry the cold this way.  Most of next week looks solidly like Winter and I am formulating how to protect the blueberries, whose little leaf buds are opening just a bit (and who could blame them!?).  Putting out a tarp in the wind--perfect!

Edge of the Wilderness

We visited the Raccoon Branch Wilderness yesterday day, just off the Appalachian Trail.  Really, just off of it.  Children will certainly show us how to appreciate a small patch of land!

On the Fallen Tree

This is the same wilderness area that joins up with the campground we visit so often.  It's the newest one in our area, as you can tell by that nice sign.  Just up the hill from where the children were enjoying this fallen tree, my dad and I picked dripping wet wild blueberries after a strong Summer storm fourteen years ago.  You can see it in my userpic.  Those were the days.  I suppose I ought to make plans for that this Summer.

In the Tree

Being mountain folks, with one leg longer than the other, we spent our time on a steep hillside enjoying this hollow tree.

Hollow Tree

The stump was pretty impressive and the children made a lovely fairy house in it.  That's one of their favorite activites these days.


I carefully picked my way back down the hill and enjoyed the sun sparkling through the trees.

White Pine

This morning feels cozy--oatmeal is in the plans, which always pleases me. I couldn't eat it for the longest time, so I am careful to make sure we have it every week, often with grated apple stirred in. I was looking over the Susan Branch newsletter from Winter and her journey to Vermont for Valentine's Day. Now, I'm properly ready for being just a little snowed in and in a Christmas-y mood. I have a feeling we'll roast hotdogs by the fire and enjoy some hot chocolate.

Happy Friday!
impossibleway: (Barefeet)
Old Picnic Table

Old picnic tables give way to moss.


Walking together.


History in signs.

On the Gate

At Mike's request, we've recently taken up more time outside on Sundays.  With most of his week spent traveling, then coming home to unload and repack supplies for the next week, we don't get as much time all together as we might like.  Last week, we visited Backbone Rock, where Mike and I got engaged.  This week--Beartree Recreations Area.  We both worked here in the Ranger Brandy days.  My dad visited this spot in the late sixties with his dad on dirt bikes.  My parents spent part of their honeymoon here.  I celebrated at least one childhood birthday camping here, as well.  It is a family place.

I suppose this is where I go off course and talk about public lands and how they are cared for.  It is easy to see where our leaders place their values when you visit National Forests.  Structures are long-empty, there is little staff on hand to help (or only intrepid volunteers), and there's an over-all mood of the place having passed its hey day.  Our areas used to have two big offices that looked after the USFS land here (and we have a lot for this part of the country!), and now they've been condensed to one with no new hires in the foreseeable future.  It was sad to give up my dream of being a full-time Ranger Brandy, but the reality quickly revealed itself.  I couldn't spend years wandering the country as a seasonal employee, waiting for something to open up.  I wanted, and had, roots.

So, we are now fans of our public lands, instead of aspiring to take our livelihoods from them.  The places are full of memories, of course, and still there, in their silence, waiting for new memories to be made.  We walked up an old road yesterday that I have traveled numerous times, back when I had one of those magical Master Keys that Unlocks All the Things.  On foot at the end of Winter, it was a different place than by car in high Summer.  We found frog eggs and ice, wee green leaves and lots of birch bark.  The children really had a good time with that old road.  I have plans to come back in the Summer and spend the whole day there--there's a lake, several camping loops, a picnic shelter (where we had our wedding reception), and some beaver flats.  I'm looking forward to it.
impossibleway: (Winter)
A last little bit of Winter, I think.  The forecast for the next while shows lows being what the highs should be.  If ever there were a time to consider the very real possibility (or reality) of climate change, I think now is it.  And it's probably too late, in many ways.  I often wonder if my children will still see regular snow later in their lives.  This Winter has been the one that wasn't.  I've tried to seize every possible moment to enjoy the cold and snow, knowing it won't stick around long.


For now, though, ice and snow on the Appalachian Trail.
Here's a frozen coneflower from the dripping eaves at the "Ranger House."

Partnership Shelter

And here's Partnership Shelter on the Appalachian Trail.
This one boasts a shower and a sink.  And a phone nearby to order pizza.
It was just right for a week when we all had sniffles.

On the Trail

Oddly, the trail was clear in the snowy woods.
Willow and Roan played in the woods, while we walked.
The snow was pitted from all the dripping and melting.

Needle Ice

There was considerable needle ice, too, which is nice to see.  The ground is still cold and there will likely be some snow in March, right?  I don't like feeling that the natural world is just as up in the air as this human one.  This is the most unsettled I've felt in some time.  Spring feels like it has sprung here in town, and I've taken down the insulated curtains.  I needed the sunshine, anyway.  If Winter won't stick around, it's time to embrace Spring.  I guess we get an early one this year.
impossibleway: (Children of the Forest)
Winter showers, winter rain,
Wash the Earth all clean again!

Wash the Earth all clean again!

~Winter :: Gateways

For all the rain we didn't have last Summer, we have had it since then end of November.  I've joked that we've moved to the English countryside.  It's drizzling nearly all the time and the sun does not stick around for long.  This rain, however dull it has become, has been so necessary to get us out of the drought.  We're now just abnormally dry!  Haha!  It feels abnormally wet.  It is a good thing, though, and I am thankful for the rain.  We have been enjoying the weather as much as possible and spending lots of time in the woods.  It does wonders for brightening spirits, which I have needed a fair amount.


We took a picnic up to The Road on Saturday.  It's on state land above Hungry Mother State Park, just goes out and quits with a fire ring and some big rocks at the end.  We walked just a little way into the woods and found this very nice rock.  I took a wool blanket to protect us from damp spots.


As we ate, we heard a stream nearby.  This wasn't flowing during the Autumn months.  The children really enjoyed all the little waterfalls and pools.

In the Woods

They were content to roam freely while I did my own exploring and carried the picnic supplies back to the car.  There were a few flies and bees out!

Wet Moss

Walking back, I heard a continuous dripping--it was this moss on a rock on the hillside. It is so good to see things nice and wet again. It makes me feel so much more hopeful about our garden this Summer.
impossibleway: (Winter)
The warm spell blew in last night and I awoke to hear the sound of water dripping down the gutter.  Even though it's in the low thirties, it's raining and that's the plan for the next little while, about ten days of temperatures in the fifties and wet.  But yesterday, it was a day on the ice.  Have any of you read A Day on Skates?  What an interesting story that is, and what stamina those chidlren have!  All that ice skating up the canals!  Well, this is our small version with no one falling in (yay!).

Snow Fairy

I brought along a sweet someone from the Magic Fairy Lady.
She'd told me she'd never seen such snow.

Hungry Mother Lake

The lake at Hungry Mother State Park often freezes over in the winter, so it's a wonderful place to visit.  It's not completely frozen, as you can see, but that cold snap over the weekend helped quite a bit.  I imagine it will all thaw in the next week.

The Long Bridge

So much snow!  The children are well-versed in getting ready to go out by now, since we have used every possible opportunity to enjoy the snow.  I was thinking it must be funny to be three and see the world frozen and icy.

Icy Leaves

I really liked this little spot where you could see the leaves through the ice.

On the Ice

We all took turns standing on the lake (right by the edge).

In the Tree

Our little friend watched from a tree while the children played on a fallen one.  The children had complained that I never took them to playgrounds, and I don't very often.  I take them places like this, instead, and I have to drag them away.

On the Log

It was at the tree that Roan and I began to track a bear.  I figure the bear had been at the tree looking for insects under the bark.  We followed the bear around the park and lost the tracks at our car.  It was convenient.  No one wanted to leave, but my feet were getting cold.  I needed thicker socks.

Bear Tracks!

But, oh, the stream.  Just a moment at the stream before we go.  All that lovely ice with such beautiful patterns running through it.

Icy Stream

Willow picked up a piece that looks like an artist's palette.

Icy Pallette

It was such a nice day, really.  The children and I seem to be in a really good place lately, like the snow brought so many wonderful things (like exhaustion!).  It is so healing to have a happy period after all the developmental shifts the past few months have brought.  At the end of the day, we were lighting candles and admiring this postcard.  A day on the ice, yes, it was.

A Day on Skates
impossibleway: (Winter Fields)
Ed Davis on Skiprock Pond

Nine years later, I returned to a little Forest Service pond with my children and a dear college professor.  I was aiming to take Dr. Davis someplace he hadn't been in a long time, or ever before.  Travelling toward Crawfish Valley, the largest roadless area in the Jefferson National Forest, we turned onto Oriole Drive and found this small wildlife pond.  Walking around it, we came out onto a point of land covered by many flat stones.  Dr. Davis began skipping rocks with great skill, impressing us all, and we had such a good time.  I told him he made rocks walk on water--St. Edward!  Laurel loved him, Willow thought he was beyond funny, and Roan shared his cooking stories with him.  Some people are just so good at connection and it can be so encouraging to visit with them.  That's why I claimed him as my second dad, after all (plus, we had the same last name).  We have plans to go back at the end of the Summer and I know we're all looking forward to it.
impossibleway: (A Winter's Solstice)
I was asked to share some basics about our Nature School time, so I thought I'd pair it with a regular set of pictures.  Of all the weekly tasks in our school rhythm, Nature School is the one that I try hardest not to miss.  It is this time which is really healing to me, which has the best memories attached to it.  There are times when the children are grumpy, but we are nearly always glad we have gone out and often a little sad to go home.

We went to White Top yesterday to fly Roan's new kite.  It's a sled kite from Premier Designs and I ordered it from Nova Natural Toys.  The kite has no frame to break and flies in winds about 10 mph.  We were probably in about 10-20 mph winds yesterday.  It was perfect and the kite stayed up in the air a good long time.  My dad, who is by now an expert flyer of the amateur kind, says this is a great kite from a reputable maker.  All that aside, Nature School!

Down to Buzzard Rock

Most weeks, we go in the mornings after our basic routine is completed.  Sometimes, we have our movement circle and Willow does some work with her story, and other times we just go.  Morning trips are shorter, naturally, and there are many times that we are gone for just a couple hours.  This is certainly true on very cold days, which I think would be below thirty for young children.  I believe I would stay home when it's colder than twenty, simply as a safety precaution and a consideration of the clothing we have on hand.  Yesterday was an afternoon trip, since it takes about 45 minutes to drive to White Top.  I timed this for our usual rest time, and Roan and Laurel slept in the car.

Flying the Kite

I choose places based on what suits my mood or what I feel the children might need.  It's a balance between the two, since teacher health is very important.  I also base my selection on what the climate of the spot is like--it's better to choose the woods on a cold, windy day and so on.  I felt we needed an open place with good winds, and that I wanted to see White Top one last time before March.  The weather there was perfect for this time of year, as odd as it might seem.  Nature School won't find me braving dangerous roads in icy weather.  We'll stick closer to home when it's snowy.

Laurel Flies

Having packed too lightly some weeks, I make sure to overpack most of the time.  Yesterday, it was around fifty degrees at home, and it was in the low forties on the mountain.  Considering the wind, some of us wore two pairs of pants, and we all wore thick socks and boots (I wore felt shoes).  Cold feet are nothing to mess around with.  The supply list was hats, mittens, and parkas to keep out the wind.  We wear snowveralls (as we call them) when it gets below thirty.  I often apply Weleda weather protection cream when we are going into cold and wind.  It's easy to get wind burned here.

Pouring Tea

Snacks are simple.  I think I can get Willow to go anywhere if I bring a thermos of tea, usually herbal.  We got some wee mugs from Montessori Services for Christmas and they are just perfect.  The size is a little humorous, but it's really less to spill.  I sometimes make peanut butter crackers to take along, but I also think hunger is the best sauce.  Meals are cozier and eaten better after we've been out in the weather.


When asked if I have an agenda, I often don't.  If I do, it's something really, really simple.  As Ranger Brandy, I found people really just needed a starting point when they were in the woods.  So, climbing a big rock, building a simple den, or walking in the stream easily expands, and the children are happily integrated into their own discoveries and fantasies.  Laurel was quite the narrator yesterday afternoon, and she is well-versed in moss and baby trees and fairy ponds.  There's generally very little direct instruction, but it's obvious they have learned a lot from the land around them.


I do often take my flute along, weather permitting.  I use this as a time to work on some new songs we'll need or pick out things to use in future months.  Since I am free from the pressures of home, it's easier to do.  Sometimes, I knit, but I also keep in mind that I need to explore and enjoy, too!

The View from Here

Ideally, I try to stay until one of the children says they are ready to go home, truly ready.  There are times that a sudden shower comes up and cuts things short for us (like when we don't have umbrellas, but they live in the car now), or when we got a late start and need to get home to cook a meal.  Mostly, though, it's a fairly free time and I try to keep my expectations out of it.  We've had only one time where it simply didn't work out at all, and we had to drive home. We went back another day and had a marvelous time.  It's not all sunshine, but it's also teaching my children that nearly all kinds of weather is fine to be out in, with careful preparation.
impossibleway: (Mike Panorama)
Winter is dark,
Yet each tiny spark
Brightens the way
To Christmas Day.

Shine little light
And show us the way
To the bright, bright light
Of Christmas day.

~Wynstones :: Winter

So much light and darkness this time of year; so much joy and worry.  I'm trying to find beautiful moments every day.  It was a cold, wet rainy day.  Katherine and I took a high through the woods and we loved seeing the water drip from the trees.  I'm really struggling with my anxiety right now and just want to pull away from everything outside of home and family and nature.  Say a prayer for me, if you feel like it.

First Snow

Nov. 20th, 2016 07:47 am
impossibleway: (Warning)
Snow and Sleet

When Grandmother shakes her quilt, children come running from their homes, catching snowflakes on their tongues. Grown-ups build their wood piles high and scurry for sweaters and mittens and skis. . .
~Grandmother Winter :: Phyllis Root
Thought it was in the seventies on Friday, the weather changed rapidly and we found ourselves driving home, in the dark with one headlight, through snow and sleet.  It wasn't enough to make things unsafe, not where we were, but it was enough to give a Christmas feel to the whole day.  We spent the afternoon on The Big Wash and visiting with Kim (Hello, Kim!), which was so nice.  Laurel enjoyed her and even said she could look at my cookbook, which says something.  Having ten children helps, too, when it comes to a wily three-year old. ;-)

Later, we drove out to the Old Davis Homeplace and then over to Grindstone to visit an old, old friend.  We worked together in the Ranger Brandy days and it was just like I had never left.  I am seldom one to talk about the past, but this was such a warm occasion in his camper in the darkening snowy woods.  Some people are just so comfortable and this is how I would describe him.  We heard the story of how he and his wife met over sixty years ago, and their early life together.  He said she could make a meal out of nothing, which I think is the best compliment for a home cook.

It's cold today and windy, so much that I'm not sure I will open the shades.  I love it when that day comes.  I'm getting out the wool blankets, and we read The Tomten and Grandmother Winter this morning.  I am so excited about Winter this year, however it turns out.  Katherine and I are headed out for another hike (all these friends in one weekend!) and I'm planning to gather some firewood.  With all the wildfires lately, I don't think the woods will mind one bit if I drag out a few fallen branches.
impossibleway: (Tulip Tree in the Hemlock)
Golden light is turning grey,
Mist begins to rule the day.
Bare their leaves, the branches lift.
Clouds of dead leaves earthward drift.
Deep below, deep below,
New life will spring!

~Enki Grade One Movement

There's been a big change in the woods since I was there on Sunday afternoon.  The treetops are no longer golden, as most of the leaves have fallen and those that remain are brown.  There's a new feeling in the air, even if it was unseasonably warm this week.  It's in the mid-sixties today, so that's much better!

Mushroom in the Leaves

We went back to Hurricane yesterday and took a walk on the Comers Creek Trail.
Arriving at the campground, the gate was locked and the place was empty!
Halloween is closing day for many things in our national forest.

Pine Needles

Never mind--a little extra walking was good for us!
We saw a very quiet Wilson's snipe and a very loud ruffed grouse.
Our sights were set on a bouncy fallen tree, having visited it last Autumn.

Trio on a Tree

I took photos of the stick gnomes (shop update Monday!), while the children played a little.
The last of the leaves to hang on are mainly these beech leaves.
They'll stay on until Spring, becoming ghosts of leaves over the Winter.

Beech Leaves

We walked a good ways, picking our way over the creek that is the trail.
Even with the dry weather, it was still plenty wet.  All those trees do a lot of sheltering.
I think the children enjoyed the challenge.  We are starting to become more adventurous.

Falling Leaves

This last picture has some falling leaves in it. It's so hard to capture them as they go; they are a treasure that must be seen in person.  You can see a change in the light in this picture.  I am so ready for cold, dark evenings!
impossibleway: (Tulip Tree in the Hemlock)
Red leaves and orange,
Golden and brown,
Leaves in the Autumn
Come tumbling down.

~Enki Kindergarten Movement

Red Leaves

The world is like a giant stained glass window these bright October days.  We've taken numerous trips through the mountains, with our guests and alone.  There have been quiet moments of wonder.  Every leaf really, really is a work of art, as trite as it may sound.  They feel especially glowing this year, even though we have been so dry here and the streams are so low.  I took another hike with Katherine yesterday and it was so nice, rather like a therapy session for both of us.  We find our common ground, mull over our differing situations, and ask reflective questions.  It is nice to do that, to have someone who is glad to put energy into relationship.  All my friends are so good to me and so dear.  Phone calls and walks and sweet e-mails are a wonderful way to refresh and renew.

It's been really full around here lately, too full for my comfort. I don't like going places all the time or running lots of errands. The children don't much like it, either.  While some people might say that it's simply the way the world works, I choose to disagree.  It doesn't have to be.  Though there are many things in life that cannot be helped and many concessions we must make, we're still well in charge of what we do with our time.  Here, we keep things slow and fairly quiet.  I feel the special need to really do that right now and as we move into Advent in four weeks.  We've had (and are having soon!) a lot of guests lately and it's worn on everyone.  We love these people, but developmentally, we need some space and time.  There's always some sort of skill to hone or hump to get over and it's so hard to do it with an audience.  I'm looking forward to some quiet--it really nourishes me and I feel so pleased that my children enjoy it, too.

I was doing some Advent reading last night, as I was too awake to fall asleep with Laurel.  Roan and Willow are on a rare night away, so I wasn't quiet so sleepy. ;-)  It was nice to get into a reflective mood and really consider what I want the next eight weeks to be.  Last year felt a little irreverent at times, honestly, and I had to just keep on with our family rituals, not feeling very sure anyone was following along.  I can see now that they were, that those are part of the collective memory of our traditions.  I am ready for this year to be very, very deliberate and a bit private.  We're already turning our thoughts to Christmas, with the few catalogs we get and by making some gifts.  The holly berries are red now, so there is the feeling that something of Christmas is already afoot.

Well, I suppose the day will start soon.  It's Halloween, so there's going to be some excitement today--pumpkins to carve, costumes to put on (even Mike and me!), a dark night to navigate.  And tomorrow?  A new month, a new mood, and a new movement circle that needs me to finalize it!  I wish you all a happy day!

Gold Leaves
impossibleway: (Ranger Brandy)

Katherine drinks teaThe height of the Fall color is now, without a doubt.  Some places are more colorful than others, but the mountains are not dissapointing.  Last year, everything seemd to go brown.  This year is better, even with the drought.  I've been dragging the children out with me quite frequently lately, so I left them home yesterday and went hiking with Katherine.  It is so good to get out in beautiful color and walk with a good friend.  I think we both really, really needed to go.

I mentioned that I'd been reading Tapestries lately and how that book has affirmed many of the experiences I've had in the past few years.  Katherine could see parallels for her, too.  It's a book on adult development, in the same seven-year increments as childhood.  I've been inching through it, reading when I can really devote myself to it, because there is a lot to consider in its pages.  With Willow's birthday coming up, it's easy to look back on how things have changed in the last eight years.  My life feels like it almost didn't exist before then.  Those days seem so far away.

Well, the day is starting and there's blackberry buckle to warm up and a little gold sweater to put the finishing touches on before church.  And there's a frosty horse and a few cats to feed before then, too.  I better get a move on!

impossibleway: (Ranger Brandy)
We spent our nature school time this week on a little side road, one that Mike and I cut wood on in 2007.  How much has changed!  It was less than a year later that Willow was born.  Mike often talks about our time before children with great nostalgia, but I am beginning to feel like they've always been here with us.  The woods, though they change and trees rot away, are a source of comfort and stability, which has been a help to me lately.

Rich Valley

Here's the view of the top of the mountain before we came back down.

On a Log

We followed a deer trail up a steep hillside.
This log was one of the few places to hang out with out sliding away!

When Mary Goes Walking

I practiced my flute, as always.
My books got a regular sprinkling of bark and leaves from the children climbing and tumbling by.

Building a Den

Roan and Willow worked on a den for a little while.
There was even a timber lot.  It's easy to find lots of dead wood.

In the Tree

Roan did a little climbing.
Later, he made a slide through a rhododendron thicket.
He showed us how a simple piece of land has endless possibilities.

Blaze of Color

These trees!  So rejuvenating in their last blast before sleeping.

The Road

I'd love to walk on this road some more. Maybe I can sneak in a little alone time for a hike this weekend.
impossibleway: (Once)
We hadn't been to Whitetop since July, and how the landscape has changed!  The lush grasses have turned brown and there are very, very few flowers left.  Just some gentian and a lone daisy.  The most prominent things, other than all the brown, were the mountain ash berries.  We call these the Roan Trees, since his name means "dweller by the rowan tree."  There's a superstition that says that a heavy crop of berries is a sign that the Winter will not bring heavy snows.  Time will tell.  I could sure do with some good snow after this long, hot Summer.

Mountain Ash

Trees aside, there was also a healthy amount of fog.  You can see it in the background below where a certain little fellow was having his picture made.  Laurel has taken up with the Tomten, but Roan is friends with the Arkansas Traveler.  A big, happy family all the gnomes are.

Traveler on White Top

Laurel is also friends with hot chocolate.  She was gulping it down and making "mmm" sounds the whole time.  I tried to be overprepared this time, bringing hot drinks and big parkas and spare clothes.  It was chilly when we arrived, in the upper forties, but the clouds gave way to the sun as we were leaving.

Hot Chocolate

If you look closely, you can see Roan by the trees.  It's a funny thing to look at a big meadow and think it is easy to walk through.  All those little plants along the ground are blackberries and Laurel found them impassable.  Still, it is nice for the children to find a bit of solitude in nature.

Boy by the Tree

Here's a new dress for Willow.  I made it using a borrowed version of the Old Favorite pattern.  She is so happy to have this dress in her size again.  I hadn't made one in two years!  I have a feeling I'm going to have to whip one up for Virginia before church this morning!

The New Dress and Sweater

We took the long way there and a shorter way back.  The long, cloudier way was so pretty and I didn't take a single picture.  The way back was a bit washed out by the sun.  Oh, well, the best things can never be captured by a camera, only in our hearts.

By Grindstone

In the Wind

Oct. 7th, 2016 07:10 am
impossibleway: (Ranger Brandy)
I saw the light of Winter yesterday.  The children and I went to the Snail Place for nature school, after a stop over at the Swing Place.  Call it tying up loose ends, if you will, one last stop before things turn really cold.  I plan to keep on with nature school, but traveling over big mountains in the Winter can be unpredictable.  It was already cool yesterday-- in the fifties and terribly windy.  The children weren't too happy about it, though I reminded them about Springtime and how I'd be chasing them with hats and mittens in thesame weather.  Last week I was unprepared for rain, this week it was wind.  Sweaters just don't do much in the wind.

Club MossLately, I've been a little better a perseverance, or restarting things.  It's easy to just put up your hands and let it all go, and I've certainly done my share.  Yesterday, when it was cold and Willow wanted to go home, I suggested we walk up to the television and radio towers at the top of the mountain.  She and Roan happily went on, though Laurel was not happy at all.  She walked and held my hand and said how she hated it in her tiny voice.  She's the most articulate of the two year olds, for sure.  I carried her for a bit, and then she decided to walk and she and Roan watched a caterpillar for awhile and all became golden.  We all climbed the very steep road to the towers and, sure enough, got warm.

I didn't have my camera card in all this, the golden light and the changing trees and the excited children.  I suppose I was meant to experience it without distraction.  Willow made proclamations about the sloping mountainside and Laurel kept giving me mullein leaves.  There was a little part of the path where the light was grey--the light of November and December.  It reminded me of this picture that Mike or I took nine years ago now.  We'd ridden through the woods and come home to a cozy supper and a quiet evening.  It was good, that time, and this was, too.  I rather like taking my children to cold places and warming them up with excercise and bringing them home to our little house. Next time, though, I'll bring hats and mittens!
impossibleway: (Autumn Fern)
We went to the Big Bend yesterday, out the long and bumpy road to the place away from it all, except mosquitoes.  Oh, the mosquitoes.  Willow is wishing for frost and I am, too.  This Summer is just too much for me.  I could go on and on, but nature!  We went to see it!  The way to keep away from mosquitoes is to keep moving, so we did that.  I had a vision of leisure and sitting in the sun for a long time, but this was not a relaxing sort fo trip.

On the Secret Trail

Roan took me on his secret trail to one of the chimneys.  I am sad to report that the bags of cement from ten months ago were for a communications tower down the road.  Oh, well.

Take My Picture

Laurel asked me to take her picture (in the blazing sun) and then made this face.  I am all the time trying to figure out who she looks like.  It's either my Grandma Lois or my great-grandmother Virgie.

Mushroom on the Fallen Oak

One of the oaks in the pictures from last Fall split and fell.  It was a little disappointing (though more to the tree!).  The children were able to climb on the top of a tree that had been riding the winds not long ago.

Gnome Picnic

We had our insect-ridden picnic, though the gnomes seemed to enjoy their acorns much more.  You can see a rather wild looking fellow off to the left there.  He's the Arkansas Traveler that came to us from Stacey.  She's so good at gnome-making and I'm so excited for her etsy shop to open.  Tanya made the Three Little Gnomes and the Tomten, of course.  We are covered up in gnomes, with plans for making more.  I'm a gnome glutton.


And there's this spot. It's a little stone that stands under a tree in the softest tall grass, just on the edge of the woods. There were Indian pipes around the base of it.  I couldn't get a picture of it with the bright sun, but bury me here. Or sprinkle me. Roan says he will carve my name on the stone.  It seems like the perfect spot.

I suppose that's a little morbid, but I think of those things.  Not with sadness, but with a feeling of the passage of time.  Willow says people and things are changing.  I don't think that I have made her sentimental or nostalgic.  We do talk about old times, but I think it is interesting that she has noticed that.  All this hot, dry weather makes me feel so unsettled and really, truly concerned about climate change.  I don't know.  I try to keep that to myself and see what is now and good.
impossibleway: (Picking Blueberries)
We went to Grindstone Campground this past Thursday for our Nature School time.  I came of age in this place, though not in the dramatic movie/novel sort of way.  I spent my college Summers here working as an interpreter and it's a place I know very well.  My life shifted from high school to the life I know now over the four years I worked there.  It was an interesting time, one that I reflect on and that remains poignant even as other years fade together.

Music Practice

So, the children waded in the cement pond fed by the mountain stream and I practiced the flute.  It's our routine now, I suppose.  I play and they play.

On the Rock

After awhile, we traded for dry clothes and walked on the Whispering Waters Trail.  I led so many hikes on this little half-mile loop.  It was different to walk it with my own children and they saw the old places differently than I did.


One such spot was some large rocks.  They just went right up to the top, so much more adventurous than me.  I would always just walk by and admire their size.  As I see Willow shift away from early childhood, I want to keep that feeling of adventure alive in her, giving balance to her life.  I think next year will be the year to go camping and have the children carry a few necessities in their backpacks.


I think we'll come back before November, when they close for the Winter.  I alawys spent late-Spring and Summer here, so it will be nice to see things after the leaves have come down.  I'm so glad that Nature School is really becoming a regular part of our homeschool week.  It's wonderfully refreshing for me (and the children!).

The Trio


impossibleway: (Default)

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