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The still, humid, hot days of this week are the “dog days” of summer, or if not exactly that, very reminiscent of them.  The air has been muggy, and to be out in it makes your skin damp.  When walking around the cabin and up the holler we’ve had to be extra careful.  Snakes are usually blind during these last days of summer, and will strike at anything that moves.  Fortunately, I haven’t seen any more copperheads – just a few harmless garter snakes.

The girls and I are still pushing for autumn, and preparing to celebrate everything it brings.  Tomorrow, John and I will be taking them to the fall festival I loved as a kid.  Today, we worked at preserving the first falling leaves to be a part of our first nature table (or basket, I haven’t decided yet.)

oilpaint

We gathered the most beautiful leaves we could find on our morning nature walk.  Then, I spread the girls’ outdoor picnic table with newspaper, gave them a cup of olive oil and my pastry brushes, and let them grease down the leaves.  Deladis noticed right away how the oil brings out the colors and the intricate veins that run through the leaves.  She said, “They can be our friends now.”

The next step was laying them on a fresh piece of newspaper to cover them.

This is the second set of leaves we oiled.

This is the second set of leaves we oiled.

Finally, we laid the news wrapped leaves on a table and placed some heavy books on top.  In three days or so, they should be ready.  They will be flat, obviously, and not as easy to tear and crumble.  They’ll make a beautiful addition to our table/basket.  (Not familiar with nature tables?  Check out some examples at Hip Mountain Mama and at Homemade Serenity.  While you are at Hip Mountain Mama, check out her natural art supplies give-away!  I couldn’t think of a better one myself – thus why I have only had two or so give-aways. ;))

To add to the fun of our leafy thoughts, we read Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert.

With illustrations made from actual fall leaves and die-cut pages on every spread that reveal gorgeous landscape vistas, here is a playful, whimsical, and evocative book that celebrates the natural world and the rich imaginative life of children.

http://www.harcourtbooks.com/LeafMan/

Deladis has fallen in love with this book.  She will laugh and has to point out every animal, tree, or man made with the leaves.  Ivy has even started sitting through the reading of some books, and this is one of them.  I’m amazed more everyday at the foundations for her own comprehension of reading that Deladis absorbs from my reading and telling her stories.  She has even started telling me stories.

One of the highlights of the day was an indoor, personalized, winter, weather prediction that road in on the engine of our wooden toy train.

worm

This is a wooly worm and they are notorious predictors of winter weather.  This one is the first the girls’ have noticed.  Seen most often in early fall, you can read their colors to give yourself an idea of what to expect in the coming winter season.  It looks like we’ll start with a long period of heavy, cold weather, probably some large snowfalls (the larger black patch at the head).  Mid-winter will be mild (brown mid-section), and we’ll end with another shorter patch of rough weather (the last black patch).  This makes me hope for our approach to the bridge even more, so we won’t have to be breaking ice with the front bumper of the truck this winter in order to leave the creek.

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There was real joy in this last day of summer for myself and the girls.  I started going through our clothes, changing the breezy summer attire for the more cozy fall duds.  I actually got rid of half of my wardrobe of clothes – the chest of drawers is next.  Everything that is too big for me had to go.  I’m letting go of the fear that I will need those clothes again.  I’m residing in the fact that I will not.

For the last few weeks, we’ve been doing a fall theme for our Circle Time and our daily activities for homeschool.  Instead of changing after a week, I decided to draw this one out.  With all the festivals coming up and holidays, I thought it would be wonderful to have our own family festival as a culmination of the awareness our verse, songs, walks, cooking, and art are bringing to the natural change of season. (An non-original idea inspired by Heaven on Earth.) John is going to be horribly busy for the next few months, so I’m not sure when we will be able to have it.  I’ll have to plan well.

Today, we finished our leaf spiral.  Deladis worked on learning to use scissors while I traced and cut out paper leaves from the ones we gathered on our daily walks.  Deladis then glued them to the spiral we cut from construction paper.  We hung it in the kitchen.  I’m loving having these little projects decorating our cabin.

leafspiral

Our four bean plants are full of beans, so I took the girls outside and we picked our third mess of this late season.  Deladis and I picked, and Ivy was in charge of putting them in the basket.

dbeans

Ivybeans

These beans have the best flavor, but they are the toughest beans to string.  The last basket full took over an hour to string, and I still missed some.  I didn’t worry about the mud from the drizzle that came down all day.  The three of us wore the earth like a badge of dedication to work as fun.  I was pretty amazed that the cabbage seeds I planted are up and doing well despite our neglect of them.  I’m going to have to go in and start taking better care of them now.  Get the hoe out.

There is an aromatic plant around the cabin that is just starting to flower.  The scent is very much like mint, but with a tartness.  I know this plant has to have a good use.  The more I take notice of what grows wild here, the more I wish I could have someone come and show me what to do with it.  This one is in our garden amongst the beans.

pmint

It’s beautiful.  If you know what it is, please share it with me.

The earlier darkness has helped the girls find sleep easier tonight.  I will wake up tomorrow with a smile on my face.  Tomorrow we’ll go to the library and find books on autumn, squirrels, apples, and pumpkins.  We’ll go to the produce stand and get a few bags of apples and maybe try drying some.  I might even let the girls have one last Hawaiian Ice before the shack closes for the season.

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About Me

An Appalachian woman born and raised, mothering two little girls in a place that is non-existent to AT&T or UPS. Happily working toward a sustainable lifestyle and writing on the demand of a loud muse.

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