Thursday, June 03, 2004

A bear day

The day started with my "tour of the property". I try to get outside first thing every morning and do a circuit to check on everything. Sophie and Fiona came with me. We checked on the chickens, fed and watered them. They're about 5 weeks old now and one has been much smaller and lighter than the others. She's less different than her sisters now, but there's still a fairly pronounced difference. We're anxiously looking forward to seeing how she turns out. Then we checked the hot frame and the gardens for new sprouts, to assess the weed situation and to train the peas and beans onto the trellises. We looked around for the raven that had been hanging out, injured, at the corner of the property the day before, accepting food scraps and letting us get within arms' reach. We didn't find it, so we didn't leave any cat food out.

Then we had 28 people (19 kids) in our tiny living room for a homeschoolers "bear talk". A local bear biologist brought some slides and talked about habitat, conservation, safety and population issues pertaining to bears. This was set up by one of the unschooling moms here who is new to living in bear country and wanted some sensible and useful information for living alongside bears to empower herself and her kids. I had put the word out by e-mail and virtually all the local homeschoolers showed up, along with a few from communities within 40 minutes drive. The biologist had never done a talk for kids before and was quite concerned that she wouldn't be able to hold their attention. The kids were mostly under 10, age range being 3-12. Erica (bear lady) was enthralled by the kids' attentiveness and enthusiasm.

Afterwards we headed to a nearby trail and did a short hike that took us to a bear den. The kids had an absolute blast and crammed 11 of themselves inside. It was beneath the roots of an old-growth western red cedar. A major hit. There were also zillions of baby western toads hopping around the parking area and that was good for a lot of entertainment. Noah and one of the 11yo boys really hit it off. They brought a baby toad back to our place to join our adult toads (2) at our pond. Bob's mom and three siblings stayed for lunch. The kids played together all afternoon. I got a chance to get to know the mom better, and she's just wonderful. They moved here about 8 months ago, but were planning to move away so didn't really make a whole lot of connections. However, after a trial move to another place, they're back and committed to making things work. A whole family of other unschoolers! The kids played in the sand and mud, on the computer, in the garden, with the chickens and with the toads. We heard the raven and saw it on a perch in a nearby tree. Noah later saw it fly a short distance, so it seems to be doing better.

After the other family left my kids had some much-needed down-time. I made supper. Erin has been spending hours listening to Saint-Saens' orchestral works. She has discovered how to actively listen for layers of complexity within music and increase her enjoyment. I'm amazed! She's begging for his Organ Symphony, which I've ordered a copy of.

After supper Sophie wrote her daily "secret". I gather this is some journaling she's doing on scrap pieces of paper. The poor kid is begging for a hand-made journal like Erin's, but I don't have time to make one for a couple of weeks, until the clinic bookkeeping is dealt with.

The kids did some painting on glass jars and bottles. I'd bought some Pebeo Vitrea 160 paints recently for a home-decor project I've got in mind. The kids used the paints to decorate two or three jars each.

Noah and Sophie did some math bookwork. Everyone read... Asterix, Garfield, LOTR, Louis Sachar easy readers, a variety of stuff.

I read aloud from "Lord of the Nutcracker Men" by Ian Lawrence, historical fiction about WWI. Erin's decided not to listen to this one, though I think it's great. She went to her room and journaled to a Saint-Saens soundtrack.

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