It’s grown on me, this place, this place of swamps and heavy air and tangled underbrush rustling with the sound of lizards, great and small. Oh, the monsoons and the swirling hurricanes on either side of this peninsula don’t do anything for me. And with all the orange-beaked egrets in the world are nothing to the beauty that is the thirsty earth, the hills of golden grasses, and the twisted, reaching oaks of Sacramento Valley. There’s thick damp mist, here, that rests solidly and perpetually across the marsh; but there is nothing in the low clouds that can compare to the distinctive September aroma of scorched earth and wildfire, and nothing in the flatlands that compare to the piles upon piles of tall clouds stacking up against the Sierra ridge, across the horizon. One man’s hazard is another man’s beauty. Tectonic plates shift and the earth shakes on one edge of the world, and the low water tables rises and the earth sinks on the other edge of the world. There is no place safe.
But it’s grown on me, this place.
This place with all its oddities and all its weird news headlines and its slow, endless stares.
Billy Collins knew about the stares. They’re ubiquitous here. Even the animals look, slowly, here in the place where there is “no more snow…no hexagrams of frost…no black sweater”, only “those birds with long white necks”, who “swivel their heads / to look at me as I walk past / as if they all knew my password /and the name of the city where I was born.”
But, I’m carving out my place here. This little one is carving out her place here. This little one who’s been raised here — this little one who thinks 72 degrees is winter, this little flatlander who thinks overpasses are such freakishly huge mountains, they necessitate shrieking each time we drive across — she’s been helping me see my place here.
Maybe I’ve shrieked a little, too, as I’ve metaphorically driven over high areas that seemed scary to me, areas where it was hard to keep my focus on the middle of the road and not at the unknown dropping off at either side. Just over a year ago, we suddenly started school because my three-year-old wouldn’t stop begging for “more worksheets, p’ease!” and I had no idea where it was gonna go. I wasn’t planning on a particular homeschool path, really. I just waded in to the waters, wishing they were clear, wishing I could see the bottom, wanting to turn back and sit with my feet dug into the shore, but knowing my little one was literally begging for “more school, p’ease”.
But now, a year later, we’re all in.
This little one just finished a full year of once-a-week Chinese language school (and Chinese folk dance). And she’s almost done with her first semester of Yamaha piano and voice. She finished the stack of preschool books ages ago, learned to read Chinese first, then she learned to read English. Now, the crazy kid is half-way through Kindergarten math, and just finished Kindergarten Science. She cried during Spring Break (“No school?!”) and cried when she found out summer meant no school.
But in Florida, she’s not legally old enough for Kindergarten.
I did hours of research, and toured the private Christian school near us anyway, to see what pre-kindergarten would offer. I wanted it to work; the teachers and administration tactfully told me it probably wouldn’t.
So, friends, we’re all in. We’re all in, despite all the experts saying it’s too early for formal academics.
We’ve grown into homeschooling, just like we’ve grown into seeing the beauty in the rain-soaked jungle around us. <3
Aveline is wearing the Ale Dress in Earth Poplin from Velveteen