Summer’s Parting Gifts
“The mind receives knowledge, not in order that it may know, but in order that it may grow, in breadth and depth, in sound judgment and magnanimity; but in order to grow, it must know.” Charlotte Mason, Phil. of Ed., pg 237.
I am adding to my knowledge by savoring summer’s parting gifts. Learning something new is refreshing.
I can see these pokeberries from our bedroom window. Pokeberries (poisonous) aren’t new to me but I recently heard that ink from the pokeberry was used to write the Declaration of Independence. Dora, one of the characters in Lessons at Blackberry Inn, is a self-taught spinner of wool. The American colonists used pokeberries as a cloth dye and for ink, which must have sparked Dora’s interest. She exclaimed to Carol, “Ooh, look, pokeberries. They’re plump and ripe and will make just the pink I need.” She began breaking off the stems . . . “I’ve collected goldenrod for yellow and sassafras root bark for brown. Whenever I go for walks, I keep my eyes open for plant dyes.”
Doesn’t this toadstool belong in a fairy tale? Dean found it in the grass and got out his camera.
It opened the next day. Where have I seen a toadstool like this? On the cover of a Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem - the autumn story - her only “season” story I care for. It isn’t her stories but her detailed illustrations that make her picture books.
I opened the pages of my Country Diary of an Edwardian and found Edith Holden’s painting of a toadstool (poisonous). I paid closer attention to a detail that I once skimmed over. Her entry reads. “My sister sent me some lovely crimson toadstools with white spots, this morning, from Keston Common.” Were they sent through the mail? Edith says that they were damaged by the journey, the heads severed from their stems, but she still managed to make a sketch of them for her notebook.
In the 1990s I recommended The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady as a beautiful example of a nature notebook created in 1906. The video, based on the book, is one I can’t part with. It is a calming portrayal of the seasonal wildlife of rural England. Mothers who observe nature to feed their souls, and mothers who lead their children in observation will find inspiration here. I propped up the video in the beehive oven of our fireplace then decorated it with a little pair of antique shoes. (Click photo to enlarge.) One hundred years later the buttons are still intact. I can’t imagine that they were comfortable shoes for a young child. But by the state of the soles they, indeed, were worn.
I do not recommend the DVD series based on Edith Holden’s life. It is a disappointment. The added footage reveals family conflict and Edith’s country walks with her quiet fiancé. Few conversations take place. Apparently her family prefers talking to the dead round the dinning table. Creepy. The video excludes the unwelcome footage and depicts only Edith’s observations and entries in her notebook. You’ll find it for a few dollars online because videos are passé.
A new wildflower, one growing further down the road from the asters, is this spotted orange flower, the touch-me-not.
It took me quite a while to locate the name of this five-petal weed that sprang up beside our front walk. It is a cinqfoil but its color is unlike any in my field guides. Sophia was visiting on the Saturday I was searching my guides. She swiftly consulted her “contemporary resource” – her laptop - to goggle images.
I wish you new knowledge this week, my friend, to add a little surprise and refreshment to your Mother Culture. Learning new things with children, too, makes for pleasant companionship.