One Foot

One Foot

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Giving Thanks For Gardens

        For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; …..Wherefore I saw that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him back to see what shall be after him?   Ecclesiastes 3

                I have always remembered this scripture as it seems to sum up the circle of life as we live and die on this earth.  Of course I have only used the small section I needed for this writing; a section that directly refers to my life these last few months.

Johnson grass invasion

  During the past year, I have rebuilt my farm house that was lost four years ago to fire and this provided a shelter while my sister and I restored our mother’s garden.  We spent weeks fighting the invasives that had infiltrated the entire area – garden beds, pathways and raised beds were filled with Johnson grass and tree seedlings.  With spade and reinforced garden gloves we dug the beds, removed the roots and prepared for planting anew and restoring the old.  As days changed to weeks and Johnson grass returned, I grimaced and told myself that everything has it’s season, but the season was ending for trash grass.

End of first summer
    The summer has passed quickly, and the digging has left little time for writing and enjoying.  We have continued to fight new sprouts while we laughed and talked the hours away, digging and digging.  As fall has closed in, we recognized we might not complete all the beds, but wisely we didn’t close the season on digging.  As my sister took her leave to visit her children this week, we took a few photos and proudly stood side by side, surveying our accomplishments.  We have cleared and prepared and planted, and it felt really good to know that we have given it a good beginning on growth before winter sets in.

Awaiting spring
     The scripture ending, “there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his works; for that is his portion” may be the secret to why we dedicated gardeners endure through such a difficult, seemingly impossible task as my sister and I have gone through summer.  It isn’t just pride in our work that drives us.  We could get that at the gym I suppose.  It is also that we are tending the growth that God provides on this earth.  It is a tending that was fulfilling to our mother, and now to us.  Gardens, after all, are the creative replacement of plants that God gave us, only more widely distributed.  We are just helping him out a little for ease of viewing. 
Me and Sis

          I will continue to putter in our garden this winter, and hopefully have more time to write. As we gather around our Thanksgiving table, though, I plan to mention that we are so very grateful for our sister-time, our health to apply to our garden, and the beautiful garden we know will be there come spring.    

Friday, August 5, 2016

Reading Children's Classics as an Adult

                I attended a Kansas rural school in the era just before such schools were closed and consolidated with larger districts.   Out of that education was born a girl who learned to love books and learned that the way into and upward in the world was through books and education.

              Even from a child’s eyes, I could see resources were limited in our classroom.  We had dictionaries and encyclopedias in the bookcase.  We had textbooks for all grades, but I don’t remember having any books or magazines to go along with the textbooks.
                Our library was a library trunk that the teacher checked out from the larger library system in the county seat, and although I didn’t need an incentive to read, there was a reading achievement reward for reading a certain number of books during the year.  No problem. I read them all, regardless of level.  I’m sure I enjoyed each one.
Then, a few years ago, after making friends with my neighbor, a children’s’ librarian, I was introduced to the “Recommended Children’s Book List” made up of children’s literature that is now considered “classic.” How disappointed I was to find I hadn’t read the great majority of those books.  And so, last year I began checking out children’s books for me.  I discovered a world of imagination that I am so sorry I missed as a child; and a world of writing skill that I wish I’d found earlier.
I have been consistently impressed with the sophistication of language in these books.  It is both an example of language used in the authors’ time, as well as a model of use for large and varied words.  Sometimes we try to control these factors, supposing they contribute to high grade level readability, but given rich content, kids willingly tackle them.  A good example is the series of Harry Potter books that are quite high in readability, but has an interest level that hooks even very young children.  
As an added bonus, nearly every book I’ve read has a great story.  Just this week I found a collection of classics in audio-book form.  “Anne of Green Gables” is in the car today and a wonderful read – reminding me of all the books Miss Holte, our rural school teacher, read to us right after the noon recess and just before mathematics.  
For someone who loves to read, as I do, there are two lists that merit regular attention.  One is the list of books that all students that are going to college should be reading or have read.  The second is the list of the books that make up children’s classic literature.  
I may not ever write a great American novel, but if I don’t, you can bet I have been reading one.  Chances are it was written for children!