Friday, September 11, 2009

#Best 09 Trip part 2 : Shabbat, Frogs, Pickles, and Horse Trees...What Unschoolers Do for FUN!!






This picture was take on Saturday, September 5, 2009, sometime in the early morning hours. I awoke first (well, truthfully, I made my bed over some pretty big rocks, and didn't sleep so much as doze painfully...).

These sleeping children have a story to tell. We arrived at the Wright's meadow just at dusk, along with the charming Lavender family. We wrestled tents together (weekend camping trips don't work well for chefs, so I was alone with the kids; Nora and Ryan had borrowed a tent still in the box, and had no idea how to set it up at first. But when Randy and Lucia Wright arrived with their daughters, age 4, things all came together...

And then we were treated to something wonderful...an outdoor Orthodox Shabbat - the Jewish Sabbath ritual.

I've been fascinated by Judaism since childhood. To be included in the observance, to have my curiosity welcomed, to be a part of that poetry on a lovely, moonlit Pennsylvania mountain night, was wonderful and embracing. The children tasted their first challah bread, dipped in salt, and each had a sip of sweet fruity wine. We washed our hands, and my Protestant tongue tripped over the blessing...

Then there was wonderful kosher take-out - gefelte fish and chicken, and pudding...we sat on haybales around a small campfire and ate while we got to know each other, with the children exploring between tents, around camp, and returning often to snuggle close to a parent...

We fell into our blankets in exhaustion, and there the kids stayed....



I'm not attaching this shot to any moment, but it is a sweet picture of my rumpled and happy, getting bigger every day little girl.
And likewise, my rumpled and happy, getting bigger every
day big boy...





Some morning sounds, and the effect they had on the sleeping kids...

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Tired as they were, there were other things to do but sleep. Food was consumed, and the men took the kids - all of them, up to the farm to feed the goats and gather eggs from the chickens. The women, meanwhile, straightened up tents and the camp in general, and chatted, both enjoying the quiet and missing the bustle of the children.

Soon enough, they were back, eagerly recounting their amazing adventures in the land of goats and chickens. Trees waited for climbing, tents for exploring, Little Toot for reading aloud. The morning and early afternoon passed in an easy ebb and flow of activity.

We were on a trip to the outhouse when the next batch of campers arrived - and, wonderfully, almost all the kids got along beautifully from the outset, and the personality conflicts that did arise, were minimal, and the kids were gently guided by the adults to find peace and civility if not common ground for friendship.





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There followed hours of exploration, ghost stories, flashlight tag, potluck dinner, and toasted marshmallows... Jeremiah fell asleep, exhausted and cranky, in the late afternoon, and slept until far past dark. Lise and I snuggled a while by the campfire, once she'd had her fill of nocturnal adveturing...amazing in and of itself, since she has a contentious relationship with darkness.

Then, relaxed and sleepy, we tucked ourselves into bed with a snack...Lise fell asleep before eating hers, and so I reread the scene I had been in the midst of and listened to Gabriel, almost 10, tell a funny story about a little skunk and a table that must be set...

Sunday began under a heavy fog, which burned off amazingly quickly during the rituals of getting dressed and fed... soon the children were all up and raring to head to the frog pond, as well as the chickens and goats that will likely star in my next post.

If you click the link while watching the video, you should get a musical treat...if I did everything correctly the first time, which is dubious. I am a trial-and-error learner! =)




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So what's that jar of pickles doing there, and what does it have to do with frogs?

Not much of anything, really, except that some of the boys were still hanging out at the frog pond while we made them. Jeremiah was back and forth, and Lise got a little cut on her finger that only sleep seemed to help. So I was reasonably free to apply myself to the process of lacto-fermentation, which is actually a lot less complicated than it sounds....









I had never guessed that pickling could be so simple. The trick is that salt is used instead of vinegar, which means there is no cooking, no laborious process best dome in bulk...I can grab cukes or whatever else I want to pickle, and do a single jar's worth as easily as a full batch. Plus, the salt brine helps promote the growth of the good bacteria of the gut, which will keep us healthier - or at least those of us who like the taste! A little mustard seed, a little dill, and some salt and water, and - presto! - pickles. The jar gets sealed loosely, and kept at least three days in a warm place, to help fermentation. Then it's ready to eat as is, or for chilling...


The simple picture I wanted to take turned into a photo-op for my two born hams... both wanted to pose with the pickles, then get silly with them, and then Miah wanted to taste.....so I collected those moments in a video clip.


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And now, for the big finish to this tale of horse trees, frog ponds, Shabbat, and pickles...which, in the end, are all about joy...






Joy and Pickles to you all! =)

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