Connections are important to me. Connections between people. Connections between people and nature. If we had more of both, I believe we'd have a lot fewerproblems in the world. While this blog focuses on connections between kids from different cultures and kids and nature, I'd like to take a little side trip today. It may seem disconnected to you, but stick with me. I hope my comments will help you understand.
How connected are your children or students to their relatives, both dead and living? I ask this question because I believe fully understanding your family's values and beliefs enables you to make choices about continuing or rejecting those beliefs.
I am fortunate to come from a solid foundation. I grew up with my relatives nearby. When I was young, four generations lived on our farm, so I had a sense of family history. I felt loved by my great-grandfather and great grandmother right on down to my aunts and uncles. I learned to live close to the land as I helped feed the animals, bring in the hay, and work the vegetable gardens. I learned independence romping in the woods and fields alone or building forts with my friends. I'm certain I am a naturalist because of this early beginning.
Only later, as a pre-teen, did I start to question the opinions expressed by certain relatives. I heard racial and ethnic slurs uttered on many occasions by some extended relatives. One grandfather thought women should stay home and have babies. He told my parents, "You do not waste money educating women." I didn't always like my extended family or the prejudice that existed. My questioning of that prejudice, and my parents' recognition of it, gave me the courage to grow and reach for something better. Being firmly rooted to my nuclear family and my home gave me the courage to spread my wings and fly half way around the world as an exchange student when I was just 16 years old, even when my grandfather said I belonged at home.
My parents did not want us to repeat my family's history of racism, sexism, antisemitism, etc. (you name an "-ism," it was present in my extended family). They worked hard and raised their daughters to be strong and independent. They pushed us to aim high. Each of us has studied abroad and earned Master's degrees- the first women in our family to do either. Each of us is a strong independent woman because of our parents. Each of us views the world in a more global way than was the norm in our small home town. I am certain I am passionate about race relations and interactions between people because of the blatant prejudices I experienced as a child and my parents' critical responses to it.
The other day, as I walked in my yard photographing my beautiful flowers, all of these ideas flooded my mind. What made that happen you might ask? My strong roots, that's what. I live in the house my maternal grandparents lived in when I was a child. My parents live in my paternal grandparent's house. All around me I see evidence of my grandparents. This home is certainly ours now- we've lived here more than 15 years and made many changes to make it our own. One thing that hasn't changed is some of the gardens and plants. As I walk through my gardens, I see the flowers my grandmother planted all those years ago still blooming. Her snowdrops, crocuses, and daffodils still push up through the snow every spring. Each time I see them I think of her and smile. My front garden is a riot of color right now- some of it my grandmother's plants, some of it plants dug from friends' and relatives' gardens over the years. Gardening goes way back in my family. As I walked and photographed each of those flowers yesterday, I thought of the person who gave them to me. And there's the seed of this whole post: connections between the people in my life (some living, some dead) and nature, in the form of the plants they gave me.
For your viewing pleasure... here is a sampling of those flowers and who they're from:
My deceased grandmother's clematis. This is the first time it has bloomed for me.
My grandmother's iris. Yellow was her favorite color.
Peony dug from my uncle's garden. That ant is doing it's job--soon a full bloom!
Lupine my mom grew from seed.
Geranium dug from my great aunt's garden 10 years ago.
Iris from the original plant my mom dug from her grandmother's garden back in the 60's.
I maintain strong connections to the family that nurtures me. I embrace my family’s legacy of living close to the earth- of growing food and flowers and animals-but I reject the legacy of prejudice. I can only choose to embrace or reject something once I have recognized it, considered it, and acted in response to it.
How about you? What is your family legacy? What makes you proud? What do you want to change for your children? How will you make that happen?
Today is a pretty spectacular fall day. #NoFilter
Want to learn to play guitar, ukulele or bass? With the changes in season come changes in schedule. My son @dantecusolito has new openings available for lessons. All lesson happen @southcoastlessons @hatchstreetstudios in New Bedford, MA. Email email@example.com to book. Please spread the word.
My last “fresh sauce” of the season. Everything in the sauce was grown within 5 miles of here. Onions and garlic from Cervelli Farm. Tomatoes, eggplant, basil, oregano, and fennel seed from our garden. We still have loads of tomatoes in the garden, but they’re all green, and I don’t think many more will ripen. Not enough for a whole sauce, anyway. I used the last scrappy bits of basil tonight, too. It’s the official end of the gardening season here. #RuralLife #gardening
Maybe I shouldn’t have added that deep purple carrot to my chicken, veggie, tortellini soup. It looks kinda weird, though it tastes the same as always.
@kimberlygriffithpsyd maybe you’d like some?
So... I harvested a “few” peppers today. 😳 I’m not sure how my family of 4 will manage to eat all of them. #naturesbounty #gardening
I just learned that this beautiful kinetic installation in Custom House Park, New Bedford will be coming down on Tuesday. #silvercurrent by #patrickshearn
Local friends, you really should check it out if you haven’t. If you go downtown today, you can attend the Bow to Stern Festival, too.
Image by @karenromanoyoung. Shared with permission.
On this day of #schoolstrike4climate
I stand with students and #kidlit4climate Thank you to everyone who’s out marching. I’m not marching. Instead, I’m contributing by putting my writing skills to work writing a time-sensitive proposal for a book project that will highlight cutting edge science being done by @woodshole_ocean. WHOI’s expansive, dynamic, 6 year research project will expand our knowledge of the ocean twilight zone. One key focus of the research: the role of the twilight zone and its inhabitants on the global carbon cycle. #globalclimatechange #globalclimatestrike #climatechangeisreal
More pics from the Massachusetts Book Awards today at the Massachusetts State House. Thank you @masscenterforbook for a lovely day. The weather was gorgeous, so my walk from South Station and back was perfect. The last image is my final stop on the Greenway where I sat for a while and fleshed out more ideas for my WIP. (Yep. Of course I had my notebook in my bag. You never know when a great idea will strike). Tagging @jyolen @heidieys
One of my favorite pics from the @masscenterforbook awards at the Massachusetts State House today. (My other pics are vertical photos so they’ll require a second post). I was honored to have #FlyingDeep recognized and glad to spend some time with #KidLit friends. #literacy
@skortch @heatherlangbooks @jemorrisbooks