Thursday, November 07, 2019

A day in the park

We had to take Alexander to the doctor this morning so he could get his second flu shot. He wasn't very happy about it but he also didn't cry (again—how brave is he?!) and we found the day so beautiful that we rushed home to do our math (we'd already done our social studies) so that we could pack a picnic and head to the park.

Here's our little picnic:

We ate, took some pictures, played at the playground, walked the trail, read and wrote some poetry, and, for good measure, spent some time painting. It was a full afternoon!

Since we were walking (more or less) through the woods, I collected a number of poems about the woods for us to read. The Road Not Taken and Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, both by Robert Frost, I Robbed the Woods and Frequently the Woods are Pink both by Emily Dickinson, and Woods in Winter by Henry Wodsworth Longfellow. Additionally I found a poem called A Walk in the Woods with Robert Frost by Martin Swords, who I hadn't heard of (sorry, Martin), but who made quite the impression on Miriam!

I had the kids read the poems on their own in the woods and pick one they'd like to read aloud.

Benjamin picked Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, which is a beautiful poem (which reminds me that I need to teach the children the little round that Sharon, Lois, and Bram sing of the last few lines). He read it so well—I should have recorded him!—I could tell he really liked the poem.

Miriam asked if she could read both The Road Not Taken and A Walk in the Woods with Robert Frost because one seemed to be a response to the other (and I'm sure it is). I did record her reading the poems but the little ones had, by this point, gone a little stir-crazy and it shows so I debated whether I should post their craziness or not. It's a rather long clip, but if you want to hear a stuffy-nosed Miriam read a poem (we've been battling a cold at our house) and watch the littler kids manage a whole lot of mischief, you're welcome to:

Here they are all flapping their arms and running around this little clearing:

I had Benjamin write a response to Robert Frost as well. Here is his poem:

I was walking
In the woods today
I saw some squirrels
Along the way and
I like how they
Ran away from me
When I did a big ahh-choo!
I gathered up some acorns
So they would
Follow me home
So I can be

And here he is with a stack of acorn tops:

And here he is will his "real" smile:

Miriam ended up writing two response poems. She didn't know what to write at first so I told her to just write something because sometimes we find out we have more to say than we thought once we pick up our pen. She managed to eke out a very forced (but still good) poem.

The birds were chirping,
Squirrels running,
And I came across
A fork.

Two paths that others
Had paved the way,
The leaves divine,
Oh, so fine.

I took the one by 
The pond,
And looped back
To the fork.

Retracing my steps,
I went home.

Then I released her to play—and she did—but she ran back about ten minutes later, picked up her notebook and said, "I thought of one!"

This is her "I thought of one!" face
And  then she wrote this:

Mother, wilt thou shed thy leaves?
Drop them off thy grateful eaves?
Make a crown on the ground,
Of yellow, red, and brown?

Dost thou see the winter to come?
Holding back the beautiful sun?
While the snow covers thy eaves
Glistening between empty trees.

White the last jolly laugh is heard,
Spring's blossoms and blooms unfurled.
Dost thous see the summer sun?
The one that winter curses to come?

Now, fall unfurls her leaves,
A tapestry among the eaves.
The harvest moon, in the purple sky,
Birds migrating in a V, they fly.

Now I see the seasons go by,
Spring's short beauty, winter's cold sigh,
Summer's warmth, fall's painted sky.
The seasons, they just fly by.

It was a bit in response to Robert Frost and a bit in response to Emily Dickinson's Frequently the Woods are Pink (which we had to talk about a bit more to decode, she and I, because Dickinson's words seemed a little less transparent to Miriam than did Frost's). 

Since we're on a poetry kick right now, I guess I'll say that earlier this week we read some of A. A. Milne's poems (and read Finding Winnie) because we're moving onto WWI right now and these two things fit right in with our introduction to that unit. 

Anyway, in the introduction to the book of poems of his that we have, A. A. Milne wrote about how his son nicknamed a swan "Pooh" (seems to be a habit of Christopher Robin's) and how he then though of the cow's they'd passed along the way to the park to visit the swan. Cows go moo, they call the swan Pooh. "Surely," wrote Milne, "there is a bit of poetry to be got out of that!" And though he did manage to write a poem on that topic, it wasn't the one he thought it would be. 

The kids and I talked about that—about poetry being found in mundane things and about things not turning into what we'd thought they'd be—and then we wrote poems about mundane things.

Here's Miriam's (entitled Sick):

"Achoo! Achoo!" says Mary.
"Cough! Cough!" says John.

Carrie has an earache
But the nurse says she's wrong.

Now I see a red spot,
Oh! Two and three!

Now Mae has a runny nose,
Nanny can't see straight.

Hush, Lenny's sleeping,
Jack is passed out still.

David can't keep his head up,
Lily's throwing up,

Dani says she has nothing,
wait. "Ack! Ack! Ack!"

Now we're getting better,
but we'll just have to wait.

And here's Benjamin's (he calls it his "chant poem"):

I like reading. I like reading.
Books about history. Books about history.

This is very, very true about him. He wrote a few other very short poems, but it was like pulling teeth to get him to write anything this particular day so they were...not fabulous? (Sorry, Benj-o...put in some effort maybe?). He did, however, write one like this:

I like putting my shirt on ઘackwards
Cause I can't tell the difference
Of the ઘack to front.

He pointed out how carefully he'd written his B's backwards, clever boy!

And while they were writing their mundane poems, I wrote a couple of my own:

In my mother’s arms
“Carry me, please!”
My baby said.
And so I scooped him up.

Then, “Carry me, please!”
He said again, though I 
Held him in my arms.

"Carry me, please!"

I am. I am.

"Carry me, please!"

I am.

"Carry me, please!"

I am, my child.
I am. I am. I am.

I Am
“Carry me, please,”
I cried in prayer.

The wind whispered,
I Am.

“Carry me, please,”
I begged again.

And the sun smiled down
I Am.

“Carry me, please.”

The sky Her eyes,
The rain Her tears,
The earth Her gentle arms.

Carry me, please!
Oh, carry me!

I Am. I Am. I Am.

We don't only write poetry, but we do try to do a little bit of poetry (reading or writing) every day. I don't know if I'm simply more aware of poetry now (probably a little, and if so, I don't know why it's calling to me) or if it's having a resurgence (I feel like it is) but it seems to be popping up everywhere in my life. I think there's something beautiful about trying to express an idea in very few words (I mean, if you need evidence check out how very little I've written on this blog...oh, wait). I feel a very poetic idea. How can I package everything I'm feeling into 280 characters?

I feel like short poems—micro poems—specifically, are becoming more and more popular. 

Or maybe I'm just seeing more of them for...other reasons...and they're not popular at all.

Anyway, moving on. Here we are attempting some water colours at the pond:

Benjamin had fun but was annoyed at how quickly the paints dried out in the sun (and I agree; it did make water-colouring rather difficult when the colours wouldn't stay watery).

His assessment was, "I'm not very good at this so I guess I'll have to turn to Hitler!"

"WHAT?!" I choked.

"What?" he asked back. "Hitler wanted to be an artist but found he wasn't very talented at it so he turned to politics. I read it in one of my World War II books."

"I don't doubt it," I said (he likes reading, he likes reading, books about history, books about history).

But I also don't think we should aspire to follow in Hitler's footprints, just saying. Though, honestly, we'd better start doing more artsy kind of things at our house otherwise I'll be overrun with a handful of tiny Hitlers. We're...not very good at this:

To be fair, those paintings above are Alexander's (the crumpled ones (because he's obsessed with turning every paper he touches into an airplane (but he's not very good at origami))) and Zoë's (the flat one beneath), so I suppose we can't be expecting too much from a pair of preschoolers.

Here's Miriam with her paintings:

Here's Zoë with hers:

And here's my sad attempt at the pond (I guess I'm destined for politics, too):

Also, I finally said "yes" to playing in the sand (volleyball pit) and now my house is covered in sand even though we shook off before coming home (*sigh*). I mean, it's not like the kids were making sand angels or pretending to be dogs and ostriches or anything like that...


This little guy came home with enough sand in his shoes to build a sand castle of epic proportions (how did he manage that when I swear I helped him empty them out?!):


  1. What a great day! Great poems, beautiful art--you have seen some famous paintings that are no better, right? Like in one gallery I saw this huge painting that was just brown. Like literally the same shade of brown, the whole thing. So.

  2. What a fun school day! I enjoyed the poems, art, and your pictures. Good poetry, Miriam! LOL @ Benjamin's quote...*ahem*