Fall is the time for farm field trips, to see the bounty of the season and learn how it was achieved. These sketches are from a trip to National Colonial Farm, an 18th century living history farm in Accokeek, Maryland, which sponsors a number of school programs for children in kindergarten through 6th grade, including homeschool groups. Our homeschoolers were a pretty savvy bunch, already intimately familiar with carding combs, rollaghs, hollowed gourd containers, dried herbs and the like, but they enjoyed the informative walking tour through the farm buildings, the wagon ride, and the opportunity to milk the cow (THAT we don’t have at home).
This is a perfectly legitimate image for my post, if you consider dough to be an alternative art form, which I do.
Today is the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, whose annual dragon-conquering celebration is one of a number of fall festivals of reflection, review of our darker sides, and re-commitment to inner transformation—Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Diwali, Martinmas—coinciding appropriately with the shrinking daylight. Take heart, dress in festive red, light the candles, recite poetry, sing songs, bake dragon bread to share with family and friends, and resolve to befriend, digest, and tame that inner dragon.
This is my daughter’s drawing of the aforementioned beech tree fungus. She’s done a better job than I did of bringing out its liveliness and color. It now merits a classier name than “fungus.”
After a steep uphill trudge to a mountainside shrine, the rewards are worth the trek: the celebrant’s inspiring and funny thoughts to ponder; singing together among the birds and trees, everyone speckled with sunlight filtering through the autumn leaves; and at the end a quiet, inexpressibly affecting service for healing of body, mind, and soul.
This image is available as a high-resolution print on 8.5″ x 11″ archival paper.
Our family is in the mountains with our church community for a couple of days of singing and dancing, meditation and prayer, and thoughtful discussion, interspersed with hay rides, hiking, and brownies. The accommodations are basic (hurray for indoor plumbing and hot running water!), and the food is definitely Lake Wobegon, but I always return with a feeling of good will toward all humankind and a renewed determination to do better at my part in it.
Here is a view of the pond, which, besides being restful for the spirit, is on Saturday afternoon the best place for children to immerse themselves in frogs and mud.
My daughter and I have walked past this beech tree fungus all summer, and we finally stopped one day with our pencils and paper and drew it. The depression in which the fungus growing (which I assume marks a fallen branch) is about ten inches high, and the fungus is surprisingly colorful. My drawing doesn’t really do it justice. My daughter’s is better—I will put that up next week.
In Greenwich, England, tomorrow at 3:09 am marks the official turning of the year, the end of the long days of summer light: for the first time since March 20th, the day and night are of roughly equal length, and we in the Northern Hemisphere begin the movement into darkness.
However, because of the time difference, the Western Hemisphere actually celebrates the coming of fall TODAY at 11:09 pm EST. You all can begin to party early.