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Archive for August, 2008

Unicorn in the Garden

This little fellow was wriggling around on the rock path. The liquid secretion, and it’s jerky reaction when touched, leads me to think it was preparing to spin it’s chrysalis. The kids and I put it up on an Echinacea leaf in hopes to witness the process. Of course, it has disappeared.

But our curiosity remains …. what IS that caterpillar? Using our observational skills we can see; no hair, it’s about 2 inches long, green underside and purplish top, single black horn, and black spots along the ribs. I can’t tell which is the back or front, but the end opposite the horn has a faint gold band. My guess would be the end opposite the horn is the head. The whole upper body shows little white pore-like raised spots.

So we sent in an inquiry to the Bug Guy at What’s That Bug ….. which you can do too if you find a mystery caterpillar. Be sure to check out the ones already on there … I have never seen such wormy wonders!

I’ll let you know what it turns out to be…. maybe you already know!

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Treasures on a Hike

  A simple hike at Great Hollow is never boring. Like a few weeks ago when Andy and I saw a wild mink on the trail. Yesterday we took some friends on a short welcome tour through the Hollow, in the bright sunshine and the lush landscape of August. The river was lower than usual, but crystal clear, showing off the water-polished stones and the wriggly little fish on their way to somewhere important.

Lobelia cardinalis

 

The landscape smells so peculiar now, with odd notes of sharp citronella-lime from the Walnut trees, and various loamy wood aromas from fallen trees and animal homes. 

By the bridge we spotted this beauty – our Native Lobelia cardinalis, or Cardinal flower. A sister to the blue flowering Lobelia inflata, both species have been used by Native American as a remedy for lung ailments, usually as a tea or chewed fresh. The latter inflata species is also called ‘pukeweed’, as a reminder not to eat the seeds unless you need a fast emetic. One leaf however, can be chewed for it’s pungent taste to alleviate a headache or congestion in the throat. A carrier of alkaloids, you’d want to stop there. Dinner can be harvested around the corner in the giant Nettles patch!

Lobelia inflata

Lobelia inflata

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Autopoiesis

What makes the human experience, and the Natural world we’re part of, so miraculous? It may, perhaps, be illuminated by this one lyrical word: autopoiesis. Meaning, in effect, self creating. Our cells have intrinsic gnosis of what to do, how to do it, and when. We are life aware of ourselves; cognizant.

Amazing.

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Every Child….

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Greetings,

My name is Ananda Wilson and I am honored and excited to be stepping into the role of Homeschool Program Coordinator at Great Hollow in New Fairfield, CT.

Many of you already know me from Great Hollow as either the botany teacher for Friday’s programming or as part of the Homeschool Learning Cooperative (aka homeschooling Mom). A few of you may know me as a dance teacher and performing artist. Otherwise, let me introduce myself and invite you to join a conversation about the future of this unique and valuable program.

I have two children: a son of 9 years and a daughter of 11 years. My own children, coupled with my deep passion for plants and nature, are my motivation to help make the Whole Earth programs dynamic. We have been able to bond with respectful, authentic friends and mentors. We have been given the room to be ourselves and to grow. Great Hollow has been an anchor for my family.

Therefore, I come to you in service and in the spirit of community. I am picking up reins that are already in a gallop. I know full well that I cannot do this alone and so I reach out to all of you and the collaborative effort that will make us a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

There are many levels of attention that the programs require in order to keep them running – and running well. There have been some growth spurts and some growing pains, as the beauty emerges and the kinks erupt for revision. Overall, the program has seen tremendous fruition; an expression of our intrinsic need to deepen our relationship with and learn about nature as well as a reflection of our power as homeschoolers.

My intention for Great Hollow, if it may be put into a nutshell, is to maintain this sanctuary as our HeartBeat — where we come week after week, month after month, year after year, to build our layers of knowledge, self and community. Where we can build long term ecological projects, learn about the Earth, build lasting friendships and make meaningful memories. Where we are able to examine and absorb information in the most supportive and natural way imaginable.

There are traditions at Great Hollow. There are many things that students and parents count on to remain secure and yet there is much room for us to grow and renew. I look forward with great joy to this coming year of Whole Earth Homeschooling fun and learning. I look forward to working with you all and to hearing from you!

Sincerely,
Ananda Wilson

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own freshness into you…
while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”       
~John Muir~

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Although we usually think of January first as our ‘new year’ start, it often feels to me like August marks this moment with more enthusiasm and a more visceral effect, as the mornings turn cool and the midday sun shines high and deeply warm. In fact, looking at the ancient Celtic Holiday of Lammas, August first marks the first day of Autumn. This time is the clasp of our year in terms of gaining and losing; like the wheat that dies the moment it’s swiped by the sickle, yet simultaneously creates abundance, nourishment and plenty for it’s recipient. As the turning of our year leans toward autumn, we learn how to best use our newly garnered skills in order to face the next threshold of challenge.

The Whole Earth Home-school Program this past year has undergone some needed processes as well as growing pains. After an unsustainable growth the previous year, we are all trying to gain our footing in order to solidify the Home-school program for the future. This is the new threshold we face right now. The programs are ready to molt and grow new feathers, hopefully preened by both the staff at Great Hollow as well as the families that are the essential body of the programs. Each of the courses are ready to be fortified by student ideas, some new parent suggestions, and a collaborative means of creating a sequence of educational bullet points which can be standardized in a way that gives the programs a good strong backbone. Along with this, experiential time and sensory exploration will always remain and integral part of what we do.

As the newly appointed Home-school Program Coordinator, I have my workbook chock full of both necessary tasks and new ideas that I will be pursuing whole heartidly throughout this year. Most importantly, I am reminded of the deep value and importance of giving our children the time to learn from, and with, Nature.

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