Thursday, May 29, 2014

I'm Looking Over...Clover

Oh, what a beautiful morning here in Oklahoma.  In this state, there may not be a better time to spend out of doors than a morning in May a few days after a three-inch rain.

I have spent the last hour and a half hunched over a row of onions carefully removing clover from between the bulging bulbs.  Earlier this spring, we got another truckload of horse manure from our cowboy friend.  I'm happy to report that Mr. Forrest's horses are frolicking in fields of clover.  The clover has been reconstituted and iswas  thriving in our little garden.

Gardening is so great for so many reasons.  Not least among them is the happiness to be gained from sticking your fingers in soil that gets compacted under your finger nails.  Removing clover plant after clover plant really gets that Art Mooney song playing in my head.  My mom used to play it on the piano.

Anyway, we got the onions planted a little too close to get a hoe between.  Since they weren't easy to get to, I'd pretty much yielded to the weeds until I saw my dad's Missouri garden this week.  He's roughly twice my age with a garden 20 times as big and there was hardly a weed to be seen in the entire thing.  It shamed me..

Fortunately, it got me digging in the dirt...a by-product of which is pure joy.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Childhood of Famous Americans

When I was a kid my book of choice was typically fiction leaning toward The Black Stallion, Nancy Drew, or the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series, but in school we were required to read some non-fiction, too.

For non-fiction, I gravitated toward two series.  The first was a series of natural science books about the life cycle of various mammals.  Each book followed the same formula:  the baby was born, the baby was raised by an attentive mama, the baby was mercilessly kicked out on its own into the wild.

The second series I enjoyed was about well-known Americans and focused on their childhoods.  They were fast-paced yet informative, always ending before the subject's adulthood.  I still remember that section under the front window of the library where these were located.  Here's an example:

Fast forward 30 years to when I'm a new home-schooling mama trying to find my way, diligently studying my new copy of The Well-Trained Mind, using it as a guide for how to give my children a strenuous education and consulting its book recommendations to direct me toward the good books.

In the book recommendations, I noticed several references to a series described like this:
"Written on a third- to fifth-grade level, these imaginative biographies in the Childhood of Famous Americans series focus on the childhood of each subject.  Highly recommended."
No libraries in my whole county carry these books, so over the past five or so years, I've been diligently combing used book sales for this series.  I've even purchased a few new ones that were specifically high-lighted in the Well-Trained Mind or those about baseball heroes that I knew my son would enjoy.  This year, my son has read books from this series on Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Jackie Robinson, and I read a couple aloud three years ago when we last studied American history.

It was only as I was preparing again to cycle into American history for the 2014/2015 school year, that I realized these books collected by me over the past several years:

are my old buddies made-over with shiny new covers.  It is a case of literary serendipity.

Reunited. And it feels so good!  They're as good as ever and ready for a new generation.