• 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, home schooling, and building our own house. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 18/Grade 12, 16/Grade 11, and 14/Grade 10.

    Contact me at becky(dot)farmschool(at)gmail(dot)com

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Come to the woods

A dear, dear old friend died this afternoon. He was the father and father-in-law of some of our closest friends, and was another father to Tom and to me, another grandfather to the children. With his white hair, beard, and spectacles, he looked to them — gave gifts to them — like Santa come to life.

He lived in a house filled with books, camping and fishing gear, and his beloved breadmaking machine, and he insisted on sharing loaves of delicious bread in exchange for the eggs we dropped off at his house every week. Several times a month, he would fill a plastic ice cream pail with homemade orange and banana muffins and chocolate chip cookies. And then with a laugh he’d fill up the spaces in between with jelly beans — “for the kiddies,” he’d wink when I protested. He loved garage sales and was forever finding and sharing treasures. One one of his last shopping expeditions, last year, he found a round, stacked empty metal munitions canister for a quarter; he figured it would make a dandy set of frying pans with the addition of a handle. It’s one of Daniel’s most treasured possessions. The other month, from his hospital bed, he asked one of his sons to bring in the old wooden box (“Alberta Springs Sipping Whiskey”) with his collection of hobby/model paints and brushes, and handed the box over to Laura, Daniel, and Davy, who had told him in the Spring about painting their new model horse.

But he was happiest out of doors, in the woods, and he loved to share that joy. As a boy he caught a coyote pup and tamed it. He took his children and their friends, including Tom, and then his grandchildren, camping as soon as they could all walk. He returned from the woods with acorns which he planted in his garden, pressed leaves, and with stories. He built and mounted bird houses by the hundreds in his lifetime. In the hospital recently he spoke of his plans this autumn to go again, with one of his sons, to the highest point in Saskatchewan, in the Cypress Hills. Onward and upward.

For his 80th birthday a few years ago, Tom built him a special birdhouse. And now Tom has been charged by the family to make the casket. I’m tempted to ask if we can fill the spaces in between with jelly beans, some camping gear, pressed leaves, and a few books.

One of his favorite writers was a fellow Scot, John Muir. From John Muir‘s writings:

How hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has this glorious starry firmament for a roof! In such places standing alone on the mountain-top it is easy to realize that whatever special nests we make — leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stone — we all dwell in a house of one room — the world with the firmament for its roof — and are sailing the celestial spaces without leaving any track.

Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods. Here grow the wallflower and the violet. The squirrel will come and sit upon your knee, the logcock will wake you in the morning. Sleep in forgetfulness of all ill. Of all the upness accessible to mortals, there is no upness comparable to the mountains.


6 Responses

  1. What a beautiful remembrance. Condolences for your loss. Filling the spaces with jellybeans sounds like a wonderful idea.

  2. Becky, what a lovely tribute. Your words moved me, and the quote from John Muir is something that will stay with me for a long time. Thank you.

    ~Christina in MA

  3. Filling that empty space will be difficult. Sympathies to you, Tom, and the kids. What a great legacy he has left you all.

  4. Thanks, all. I’m relieved that the jelly bean thought isn’t completely ridiculous, Jo. And a special welcome to Christina, to this blog, and to blogging in general!

  5. Thanks for welcome, Becky, and for adding my blog to your blogroll! It’s been fun entering the blogging world.

  6. I love the jelly bean idea! I slipped a ridiculous memento into the casket of a friend, and the memory still makes me smile.

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