• About Farm School

    "There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
    James Adams, from his essay "To 'Be' or to 'Do': A Note on American Education", 1929

    We're a Canadian family of five, farming and home schooling. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 17/Grade 12, 15/Grade 10, and 13/Grade 9.

    Contact me at becky.farmschool@gmail.com

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    "If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
    William Morris, from his lecture "The Beauty of Life"

    "The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall, nations perish, civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead."
    Clarence Day

    "Anyone who has a library and a garden wants for nothing."
    Cicero

    "Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtile; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend."
    Sir Francis Bacon, "Essays"

    "The chief aim of education is to show you, after you make a livelihood, how to enjoy living; and you can live longest and best and most rewardingly by attaining and preserving the happiness of learning."
    Gilbert Highet, "The Immortal Profession: The Joys of Teaching and Learning"

    "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."
    Walter Wriston

    "I'd like to give you a piece of my mind."
    "Oh, I couldn't take the last piece."
    Ginger Rogers to Frances Mercer in "Vivacious Lady" (1938)

    "No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."
    Booker T. Washington

    "Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member."
    Attributed to Groucho Marx in "The Groucho Letters" by Arthur Sheekman

    "If you can't say something good about someone, sit right here by me."
    Alice Roosevelt Longworth

    "If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, we feel all our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'."
    Jean Hagen as "Lina Lamont" in "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)
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Poetry Friday: Forcing Spring

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: it’s in the -20s, with blowing snow. A very, very nasty day.

The kids are baking apple pies today for a contest tomorrow. If we can’t get out to deliver them and get them judged, well, we’ll just have to stay home and eat ‘em.

The other day in the supermarket I was stopped in my tracks by a display of not yet flowering pots of Spring flowering bulbs — grape hyacinths and regular hyacinths, Dutch crocus, and mini daffodils. I bought three (one for each child of course) and set them by the kitchen window. They give me strength, not just to deal with the walloping winter we’ve had but with February in general, which is also 4H public speaking month (and with two clubs Laura has to give her speech twice) and ramped up rehearsals for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. But I am noticing that the sun is up earlier and earlier each morning, and dark comes later in the evenings, especially when we’re out and about in town for activities.

* * *

In need of Spring tonic, yesterday I dug out the late great Peter Gzowski‘s 1979 book by the same name, where I found this, by the late great Alex Mair, Edmonton’s great storyteller:

If
by Alex Mair

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on winter,
If you can trust your snow tires not to fail
When all around the snow is drifting with the gale,
If you can shovel, and not be tired of shovelling,
Or chipping ice, when ice must needs be chipped,
If you can gaze on landscape blanked with snow,
And keep your cool, when those around have flipped,
If you can lose your footing, crashing down,
And smash your elbow on the frozen ground,
If you can rise again, and smiling, carry on,
Knowing eight feet farther on you’ll fall again,
If you can back your car against a drift
And spinning, sink the wheels beneath the snow,
And ‘phoning, hear the tow truck’s tale of wait,
And rushing to the corner, panting
See the final trolley buses as they go.
If you can shovel sidewalks needing shovelling,
And pitch the snow upon the drifts so high,
And watch it tumble back upon the sidewalk,
Remembering that a grown-up doesn’t cry.
If you can watch the ice rebuild on roof tops
Plugging eavestroughs as it never plugged before,
And watch the grey clouds move from far horizon
Knowing that it’s going to snow some more,
If you can watch a friend come back from sunshine,
All bronzed with tan and glowing from the fun,
And grit your teeth and keep your chapped face smiling,
As he talks of surf and sand beneath the sun.
If you can fill the unforgiving minutes
With sixty seconds of distance run,
If you can live with five months winter
Before the grass grows green beneath the sun.
Then what are you…some kinda nut?

It struck a chord and I laughed out loud, because of the weather, because the boys are each learning a Kipling poem (not this, but two from The Jungle Book) for the arts festival in April, and because I learned just the other day that Kipling is being reconsidered (review here).

Gina MarySol Ruiz at AmoXcalli is hosting today’s Poetry Friday Round-up, despite a very frenzied schedule. Thank you very much, Gina, and have fun tomorrow!

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7 Responses

  1. I love this! I’m glad to discover that I’m not “some kinda nut” after all. :-)

  2. I am definitely some kind of nut! My carpool partner and I have been counting exactly how many more minutes of daylight we are getting each day and how many more days will it be until we can actually get out of bed and see the sun at the same time. Some winters seem to never end!

  3. writer2b and Lisa, I’m all of a sudden reminded of the old candy bar commercial, “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes….you don’t!”

  4. thanks for the tip on the Kipling reconsidered bit. I was a big fan as a kid, read some biography of his childhood that I loved, then grew up to discover the bigot, the -gasp- anti Irish Kipling. I’ll have to read this book.

  5. Well we have nothing like that for winter. Just days and days of dreary rain broken up by perplexing warm spells. I shouldn’t complain but it is a little disconcerting to have no snow at all. The poem is making me count that as a blessing this morning….

  6. I am so sending that to a friend in Vermont today, who cannot clear her path anymore because the mountains of snow to each side are so very high.

    Thanks very much for sharing it!

  7. [...] me, that honeybeeand if you will be my valentineand write me epyllions of lovethen i will stop forcing springClimb inside a poempuppy poemsare good to start with.This little bag of poetry is becoming heavyor [...]

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