The autumn weather we are having is unexpectedly delightful right now. Last fall, our first full autumn living on the Rez, I was in the throes of everything that comes with a terrible first trimester of pregnancy so I didn't notice anything but the pungent aroma of hops being harvested nearby which made me feel so sick. But this year my senses have been returned to me. The sun sparklingly bright warms the house all afternoon. The contrast of the turning leaves against the azure backdrop of the brilliant sky is breathtaking. The dry, hazy heat of summer afternoon has been replaced by the pleasant crisp afternoon that calls for children to come out and, oh, please shed the sweaters (and in our case, for some reason, the shoes and sometimes the socks). The crabapples dangle among yellow-brown leaves, and the apple-pickers' shouts and mariachi music can be heard all afternoon. The chickens joyfully wander the entire garden, finally free to scratch and peck the leftover plants after a long summer of gazing longingly through the chicken wire at ripe tomatoes, and to burrow their chests down deep into the dust, cleansing their bodies by dirtying them first. The heads of the sunflowers droop, tired of holding the weight of the hundreds of seeds, and the stem springs up as though relieved when the head is cut to be brought indoors. It is beautiful, this autumn. Welcome, and stay awhile.
It is amazing the variety of scents I encounter here in the country. Right now our property smells distinctly like red bell peppers from the field immediately across from our house. Sometimes it smells of hops, sometimes of mint. Earlier, as I was leaving a friend's, it was the earthy smell of cow manure that always just seems to suggest "home" to me. Don't ask me why; I was raised in the suburbs with no cows anywhere nearby.
I have a sweet friend who is letting me borrow her extra SLR camera because she knew how achingly bad I missed the one my brother let me use when Rosie was born. It's been almost impossible to go back to a point and shoot after using such a beautiful camera and I have been having so much fun with this blessing. As my friend Melissa said, "If you shoot in manual, expect your pictures to get worse before they get better." That runs through my head like a mantra, especially when I look back over the pictures I've been taking, but I am learning the very basics as I research online and talk with her. I am understanding (on a very low level, mind you) what to look for in a histogram when I am shooting and thereby getting a feel for where the light source needs to be and how to position myself for better or worse pictures.
Even so, even with the blurry, the under- and over-exposed photos, I am having such fun capturing my Lyddie in stills again, who is moving so fast these three-year-old days that I could just not get a worthwhile photo of her for weeks now. Before most of these pictures above, she actually put her hand up to the camera in a "don't take a picture of me" gesture, with a little bit of rudeness, so I shrugged and said, "I wasn't taking a picture of you anyways, I don't like to take pictures of people who don't want their picture taken, I was taking one of Millie." Immediately afterward she completely changed her tune and was begging for me to take her picture. I put her off for a while but then returned to her and she engaged in some exquisite poses, as you can see above. That girl, she is just full of vim and vigor these days.
I have started just a little bit of "preschool" as we call it... sometimes we call it preschool and sometimes we call it "special time," which is really my main goal, special time with mama. I don't really believe in preschool as a general rule and agree with Charlotte Mason that young children are best left to learn by discovery, especially of the natural things God has created around us. But, if I have something a little structured planned, I am much more apt to set aside a time to do special activities with Lyddie and Millie each day which we all enjoy. Otherwise, to be honest, it is hard for me to set aside play time, although we do a lot of special reading times and I do try to plop down on the floor and play every day for at least 15 minutes. It's hard to make it a priority but I am always glad when I have.
We have been using this simple book with activities to go along with different read-alouds. Right now we are doing the little unit on Mother Goose and rhyme and requested several different versions of Mother Goose rhymes from the library along with a few other rhyming favorites that weren't already on our own shelf. I am enjoying it because it gives us a positive time together where both Millie and Lyddie feel special, and although they have known a few of the rhymes by heart for a while, they are getting really familiar with many different ones as we go. It is fun.