Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Unschooling to School: Collecting

This morning in my t-shirt I stood and shivered in the pink sunrise, the blue light of dawn still behind me, to the west. The porch was dry but the air was heavy. The languishing tomato vines hung limp with dew and decaying leaves. The first drops began to fall, and an hour later I was wrapped in two sweaters, cleaning house under a cacophony of slamming water on our metal roof. The autumn rain has come swooping back in, and I am relieved.

We've been picking the tomatoes just as they begin to turn yellow and ripening them in the house. The quinces on my daughter's tree are turning a rich glorious yellow, and the potatoes, quinoa and oats are all inside, in various stages of progression toward the pantry. The heavy rain is beating the aphids off the kale and pulling the leaves off the trees. This is how autumn often comes on the west coast: leaves fall heavy to the ground and rot before making any fluffy picturesque leaf-piles. Sometimes I can't tell the difference between the leaf-litter and the mud. Sometimes there is no difference. Things like gardens begin rotting right under our noses in the summer, and in the autumn rain they get hammered to the ground. Now we're entering the six month long period of rubber-boot-wearing. I love this season. I am glad for the opportunity to take stock.

This is a time for collecting: seeds, fruits, tubers; collecting my body into warmer clothing; collecting my family. Every day when my son comes home from school I pull him into my arms. Maybe I curl up in a blanket with him and hear about his new friends, maybe I collect up his lanky body to sit beside me on the couch and show me what he's doing, and maybe he bitterly stomps into his room and shuts the door behind him, so I sit down among the clothing, electronic parts and lego pieces and I listen. I worry about the big changes in his life - starting school for the first time in 7th grade is kind of like jumping off a cliff into a black frothy ocean current. I am sad to see the summer go. He puts his arm around me and says it's O.K. It's just raining. I know he's right. It's harvest time. And in every harvest are infinite beautiful new beginnings.

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