Elijah reading

Elijah is having a harder time with reading than either of his brothers did. The way his brain works it's hard for him to make the words stay still on the page long enough to give up their secrets. But he's working on it. And it's been fun this week to see him taking on Dory Dory Black Sheep, one of the first books that Harvey read and enjoyed by himself. He was thinking that I might read some of the chapters to him, but as he got into it decided that it was good enough that he would push through himself so he would get credit for reading it all. And the best part is that he reads aloud, so I get to enjoy the story myself!

hair and strings

All three of our boys have pretty long hair now. Harvey started growing his out first, before the pandemic, and then the other two joined him a little while later. Elijah at least says he wants a ponytail, but really it's just that they don't want haircuts because they're not interested in their hair changing. Which, you know... But I can't really criticize, because I have something similar going on in how I never change my guitar strings. I'm used to how they sound, so I never think there's any problem with them! But the other day one broke, so I was forced into getting a whole new set; and guess what, the guitar now sounds much better!

working hard

Sometimes it's a challenge to do work. Work is hard! And so often there are other things to think about—tasks we should be doing instead, or just would rather be doing. Which is too bad, because not only is there a lot of work that needs to happen to keep life going, finishing a hard task is actually pretty rewarding! That's why Backyard Farm Club is the best, especially when there's a pile of woodchips involved.

Our friends had one—a big one. Woodchips are free if you know who to ask, but for free woodchips you get what you get, and this time our friends got enough that they didn't have that much driveway left. So for two consecutive Mondays we gathered a crew over there for some focused shoveling and hauling. And surprisingly, we just about got it done yesterday! All the kids—and the grown-ups—worked pretty hard, and though some of us are better able to focus than others with lots of friends around, I'm proud of all the kids and what they were able to accomplish. It turns out a pile in front of you is a pretty concrete objective. Even better, they said that doing the work was the best part of the day! Now lets see if we can summon that same level of energy for the woodchip pile in our driveway...

the depth of local geography and history

Sometimes we think about traveling the world, especially when looking at friends' pictures from Iceland. We will, someday. In the meantime though, there's still an infinity of places to explore around here. Case in point: on Saturday we were at Great Brook Farm State Park, where we've been hundreds of times, and found a new path that we'd never noticed before. It led us behind a broken down old log cabin (but not that old; the "logs" were only siding a couple inches deep) to a mill pond with little bridges to cross over its two spillways. Harvey was really the one to notice the path, so he has pride of place on the photo from yesterday. But we took other pictures too!

Elijah looking down at broken rusty machinery in an old mill race

how long since that sluice gate last worked?

Even though there wasn't much more to the path before we were back on trails we knew well, the tiny bit of it had plenty of entertainments: an old fireplace that looked just like a throne, a grove of numbered trees, and a big rock to climb.

Zion and Elijah atop a boulder in the woods

they are erratic climbers

Naturally we wondered about the cabin and the mill site, so back home I did a little research and discovered that the millpond is quite old indeed: it was the site of "Adam's saw, hoop, and grist mills" dating from 1730. The cabin, like we figured, is newer: it was built in the 1930s by Farnham W. Smith of Concord, who was charmed by the location by the old mill pond and thought it was just as good a camp as anything in New Hampshire. Over the next two decades Smith went on to buy 900 acres around the camp to make Great Brook Farm, where he and his family moved in 1954. Then they sold the property to the state of Massachusetts to establish the State Park in 1974.

Learning all of that makes me even more excited to go back to Great Brook and explore some more. Like, I can't believe I've never visited Wolf Rock! Even if we never leave Middlesex county, there's so much depth to the geography and history that we'll never run out of fun and wonder!

Zion and Leah posing on the outside of the railings of the road bridge over the stream

delight so close to home


moments from the week

Harvey, Zion, and Leah on a little bridge over an old mill fall

new vistas in familiar woods

Moments from the past week.

Zion and Elijah wading in the Arlington Res

water benders

the kids throwing a pumpkin with a big trebuchet

smashing pumpkins

Zion and Elijah at the breakfast table with their fingers in each other's face

"I'm not touching you!"

Harvey carrying Elijah on his shoulders by the Old North Bridge

unreliable transportation

an excavator demolishing the garage next door

smashing buildings

Zion and Elijah painting with friends at a table in our yard

co-op painting