25 Children’s Books For Back-to-School

“Back to school!” These words can evoke a variety of emotions in the hearts of children everywhere. For some, this time can be full of anxiety and concerns over making friends, fitting in, and finding their way around a new school or classroom. Even self-directed learners and homeschool families can feel the jitters associated with a new year of learning. Stories are a great way to prepare for what’s to come and to soothe worries about the new school year. Children will feel more confident when they see characters in books thriving in new learning environments. Here are 25 titles selected by Western MA mom, Lisa Woods, just in time for the new school year.

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5 Featured Culinary Art Resources in Western MA

Hear Me Roar: Culinary Arts in Western Massachusetts

Art You Can Eat
By Cheryl Allan Carlyle

Food is fundamental. At its core, it is our life source; something required for survival. But anyone who’s ever bitten into that perfectly balanced bite, or those fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon rolls knows that it’s so much more complex than that! Food has always been a cornerstone of our traditions, as we pass recipes down from one generation to the next, sharing age-old secrets and creating memories across the dinner table. For example, if a dish tastes like it’s “missing something” and you can’t figure out what it is, I was taught that a pinch of salt most often times does the trick (the art of a simple fix!).

To talk about cooking in a column about discovering artistic inspiration feels only natural. I grew up in a family rooted in culture, where food was honored and appreciated. When we think of food as art, it goes beyond just tossing some ingredients in a pan and stirring. The act of preparation is an art within itself. Whether it’s learning proper knife skills, allowing the dough to proof long enough to create the perfect loaf of bread, or knowing the difference between minced, chopped, and julienne, the culinary artist has as much to learn about their medium as does the painter or sculptor.

I’ve spoken to individuals who have a desire to increase their culinary creativity, but feel overwhelmed in the kitchen. They don’t know where to begin, or doubt their ability to create something they can truly be proud of. We live in a state rich in culinary history – the first culinary arts school was founded in Boston in the 1800s. This month, I encourage anyone who has ever dreamed of joining the ranks of Julia Child to let the inspiration lead. Our Western Massachusetts community offers abundant opportunity to connect with local chefs who are passionate about sharing their secrets with you! Here are a few I recommend: Read the rest of this entry »

5 Featured Pottery Studios in Western MA

Hear Me Roar: Pottery Studios in Western Massachusetts

Getting Your Hands Dirty
By Cheryl Allan Carlyle

Pottery, one of the oldest forms of art, has been in existence since before the Neolithic period, dating back to 29,000 BC! These ancient artifacts have been discovered by archaeologists across the world, most notably in Japan, China, Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South America. The origins of pottery are purely utilitarian in that they were made to serve a specific, useful purpose – cups, plates, and bowls are among the most common items found. Because clay is inexpensive, abundant, and adaptable, it was an ideal medium for creating these necessary items. Beyond its practical use, clay was also used in early cultures to create figurines and vases as a form of artistic expression. Today, pottery remains a timeless and valuable art form. Read the rest of this entry »

16 Books for Summer Reading

Blackout Poetry: The Creative Process of Deconstruction, Reconstruction

Hear Me Roar: Creative Ways to Connect with Your Inner Artist

A Unique Twist on Poetry
By Cheryl Allan Carlyle

Last month, I asked readers to begin considering which forms of art they’re drawn to. I was delighted when a woman named Hannah reached out to say, “I enjoy reading poetry and ideally, I’d love to create my own. But writing isn’t exactly my ‘thing.’ Any suggestions on how to break through that barrier?” Yes! Hannah’s inquiry is the inspiration for this month’s column where we will dive into the unique and creative concept of Blackout Poetry!

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The term ‘poetry’ is often synonymous with the likes of Robert Frost and Maya Angelou, Walt Whitman and Sylvia Plath. We think of poetry as brief story telling using profound and melodic words. While all of that is true in the traditional sense, blackout poetry allows you to create beautiful, aesthetic works of poetry without writing a single word. I was introduced to the concept a few years ago when my daughter came home from school, excited to show me a new art project they’d done in class. I’d never heard of blackout poetry but as she explained the idea, I was hooked. So many things about this art form fascinated me! Beyond the ability to create a poem without actually writing anything, blackout poetry also transforms itself into stunning visual art. Furthermore, I learned that blackout poetry has been used by writers to help them push through writer’s block and to get those creative juices flowing! How had I not heard of this before?! Read the rest of this entry »

20 Children’s Books About Summer Camp

There are so many great books about camp that it’s hard to choose just a few, so here are twenty books that are great for kids who are about to go to summer camp or to bring along to read before bed or on a rainy day. Even if your kids aren’t going to camp, these book featured by Western MA mom, Lisa Woods, are all fantastic summer stories!

Read the rest of this entry »

Nothing Gold Can Stay: Colors of Motherhood

Outgrowing

Unremarkable cards to express unending thanks.

Shopping for birthday party supplies, I pick up thank you notes, fairly confident my silly choices will be appreciated. Nope. “Mama, I can’t use these. People judge you on your birthday party, Mama. Please. I just can’t.” I know better than to buy my kiddo clothes without his input. I now know this applies to stationery, as well. Both his mortification and his apology are heartfelt. So with receipt, embarrassing cards, and his chosen, unremarkable, replacement cards in hand, we approach the store’s customer service counter together. I point out the opportunity to learn the exchange process. Along with it, I hope he also learns he can trust me to help him navigate the social obstacle course of adolescence.

Yup, the awkward years are upon us. Almost. As my hubby quips, our kiddo hasn’t left the Garden of Eden yet, but he’s looking over the fence. He’s sprouting hairs and self-consciousness in places where neither existed previously. Outwardly at least, I’m becoming the embodiment of embarrassment rather than the very definition of comfort and safety. Gone are the days of dramatically drawn out drop-offs at birthday parties or camp. Now, if he turns back at all, it’s to scowl and point, body language bellowing, “leave. Don’t watch me!” Read the rest of this entry »

New Column Debut: “Hear Me Roar”

Hear Me Roar: Creative Ways to Connect with Your Inner Artist

An Introduction
By Cheryl Allan Carlyle

From a young age, we’re taught that play is just for the young, that we are either artistic or we’re not, we’re told that art is something that cannot be trained for, only possessed through some twist of genetic fate. The purpose of my column is to silence the noise and doubt that robs us of our ability to draw out the Picasso, Shakespeare, or Tchaikovsky lying dormant inside each one of us.

I am a writer, playwright, and poet. Any art form that contains words is where I find my deepest and most inspired creativity. But it’s only been a few years since I began identifying myself as what I’ve always been – a writer. It felt so foreign. I felt like a fraud. How dare I put my self in the same category as Oscar Wilde, Virginia Wolfe, or Edgar Allan Poe? How dare I think my work holds the same weight and significance as theirs? But as I started to develop my own voice, I realized that every story, every perspective has its own unique value. It was then that my narrative began to shift from “how I dare I think my story holds the same significance…” to “why would my story not?” That shift, as simple as it sounds, was life-changing. It’s the shift that allowed me the courage to write a feature-length play that went on to become a fully staged production this past January. The difference between remaining stuck in perpetual self-doubt and having my work showcased in front of an audience was simply shifting my perspective on what it means to be an artist. Never underestimate the power of believing in yourself.  Read the rest of this entry »

Mother’s Day: Honoring Traditions, Honoring Ourselves

This May, yoga instructor Ginny Hamilton is spending time out of town with her teacher and with her students, away from the responsibilities of motherhood. In this issue of “Off the Mat: Reflections on the Practice of Parenting,” she contemplates outer and inner peace, Mother’s Day traditions, and handwritten letters.

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9 Books for Sleep: New Parents & Story Time

Trying to get kids to bed at night can be a real chore. So many nights parents walk out of their kids’ room high fiving themselves, marveling at how easy it was to get the kids to sleep, only to hear the pitter patter of feet ten minutes later. Western MA parent, Lisa Woods, shares what has worked for her with a newborn, and routines and recommended reading for a toddler to elementary aged children that made bedtime a little easier for her family … and maybe for your family too! Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: Spring Fever

Spring Fever

“Earth laughs in flowers, to see her boastful boys/Earth-proud, proud of the earth which is not theirs.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The previous owner of our house loved lawn. Over the years, we’ve added trees, flower beds, berry bushes, a modest veggie patch which fed a woodchuck family quite well for a season.  An even more modest kitchen garden followed, gifting us a few fresh tomatoes, herbs and greens. Each landscaping mission involved a vigorous effort to remove grass.

Lawn grass is dense. Difficult to penetrate. It’s necessary to disentangle a tough, tight knit system of roots and stems. But once you succeed in making a literal break through, it’s almost like peeling a banana. Large sections of inches thick turf lift away, revealing rich topsoil below, damp and wormy and ready to welcome new roots. New seeds. Spring provides wonderful metaphors. Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: The Heart of the Matter

The Heart of the Matter

The ubiquitous Valentines displays have me wondering, how did the heart become the symbol of love? Why not the gut, as in a gut reaction, or the eyes, those windows to the soul? While Wikipedia has not provided helpful answers to this random thought train, it occurs to me that yoga might.

Yoga’s map of the body’s energy routes, the chakra system, offers one path to connect the heart to love. The chakras, seven energy centers tracking with our spinal column, each hold a particular focus. Just as our physical heart circulates blood and oxygen throughout our system, the heart chakra, number four of seven, sits right in the middle, integrating physical, mental, and spiritual energy.  Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: The Rainbow Within

The Rainbow Within

When I was growing up, church was the center of my family’s social network. Sundays were music, crafts, and familiar stories, potlucks, and community. We sang Morning Has Broken alongside How Great Thou Art – it was the 70s, after all.

Beyond church, my parents helped host Christian encounter retreats a few times each year. These weekends were adults only, but the closing worship services were open to everyone, including kids. For my single-digit self, these services were late and long and often hot, but I enjoyed them. Even now, I can close my eyes and be resting my head in my mom’s lap in the pew of some church for some closing celebration, sensing the warm glow of the light and the love and the music. Lots of music. Lots of rainbows.

Rainbows became my thing. I decorated my new room in a new town with a rainbow bedspread and sheets and the two pillowcases that, if propped just right, made the full arch of the rainbow. (Want a visual for this trip down memory lane? Google “tomorrow’s rainbow pillowcases.”) Rainbows symbolized hope and spiritual connection that carried me through the storm clouds of adolescence. Read the rest of this entry »

Dear Sarah: Cell Phone Contract with My Teenager

 

Dear Readers,

I get so many questions and concerns from parents about their teenagers’ use of cellphones that I decided, for my column this month, to share the contract that my co-parent and I use for our 15 year old daughter.  We still have our challenges, and it is a work in progress, but it helps to avoid many of the problems that I hear about in my practice. Feel free to use, change or ignore any parts of it.

Warmly,

Sarah

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Reiki Positive: Gently Taking Care of Your Anger

Energy is constantly changing. I honor the energy. It’s all around us. There are three types of invisible forces dancing inside us….emotions, thoughts, and life force energy. When we stuff down our emotions, we are creating blocks in our physical bodies, which make us more susceptible to illness. Life experiences trigger our emotions. All of us, kids and parents, need to express those emotions as they rise and fall away. But what do we do with all the people who quickly and shockingly aim their anger at us when we least expect it? How do we stop the “Grinches,” the “crazy makers,” the antagonists from knocking us over with their anger, hate, resentment, negativity? We don’t is the short answer.

We can’t control what other people do and say. And we can’t keep people away. Our daily lives are filled with interactions with other people. We can’t live on an island alone, although some people try it. Isolation is not the answer. Relationships are the connections and meanings on which we create our experiences. But how do we deal with friends, family, caretakers, employers, strangers who are mean to us, who hurt us, who keep bumping into our ethics and triggering our fear or anger?

You imagine yourself completely safe and strong and then genuinely ask if you can help them. Then you simply listen, without defensive responses. You can hear angry people, without allowing them to affect your own emotions. You can also ask them not to yell. And ask them to talk about their anger or pain. Anger is an emotion that is best dealt with intimately, not thrown at one another like daggers, not used as an outward, emotional hot-potato.

When I lose my temper, my friend used to say, “She’s pushing your buttons again. Get rid of your buttons, so she can’t push them.” Thich Nhat Hanh agrees. He says in his book called Anger – to eliminate your buttons, you must take very gentle and deliberate care of your emotions. Hold your anger close and give it love and attention. “Anger is your baby,” he writes. We often push our emotions aside, but that just makes them grow and feel worse, like a crying baby. Cradle and love your baby. So now, I sit quietly, visualize myself younger and I tenderly ask her questions like…

  • Why are you so angry?
  • Were you hurt in the past by something or someone?
  • Can I do something to douse the flames or tame the fire of anger inside you?
  • Tell me how to help, because your anger needs my attention and most of all my love and understanding.

When someone else is making you crazy, then look inside yourself. When someone else is taking up too
many of your thoughts, then look inside yourself. Your anger is crying for you to listen. Self-compassion
is the key.

If you’re looking for guidance and support in raising your little ones, Alison would like to help! Send your questions to: a.vale5000@gmail.com


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alison Vale

Alison was born and raised deep in the woods of Pennsylvania, where her childhood imagination ran wild and free. As a scabby-kneed tomboy she seemed fearless, yet as she grew older, her fears and anxieties clearly got worse. She attained her Master’s Degree in Sport Psychology. As a clinical researcher and biostatistician at a university medical center for 18 years, Alison co-authored many medical articles and observed first-hand the short-comings of conventional medicine. She left clinical academia to become a Reiki Master Teacher and author. Her goal is to forge energy medicine into conventional medicine and share more intriguing stories and workshops. She has an 8-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter, and is still learning every hour of every day how to parent.

Off the Mat: Caught Stealing

Off the Mat: Caught Stealing

Been caught stealing
Once when I was 5
I enjoy stealing
It’s just as simple as that.

-Jane’s Addiction

My son went through a sticky fingers phase a few years back. Office supplies went missing from my desk. Quarters vanished from my dashboard bin, too often stranding me at a meter. His actions included a bit of Robin Hood-esque passing on quarters to friends. In exchange for what? I still don’t know. Perhaps simply to curry favor. Perhaps out of genuine generosity. I imposed natural consequences when possible; no you can’t have a quarter for the gumball machine because you’ve taken all of the ones I keep in the car.  Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Landscape: November 2018

Every month, Hilltown Families features a new Learning Landscape, which aims to inspire learning along with a common theme easily spotted in our surroundings that month. The hope is to bring a little bit of the outdoors inside for inspection, dissection, identification, creative play, art projects, and lots of other educational activities. Download this month’s Learning Landscape to help open up children’s eyes to the unique attributes of each season, and to help them learn how to see these things in nature for themselves.

The November Landscape

It’s dark outside these days, and the hills all seem a little less tall now that they’re devoid of the leafy fluff that extends their reach a little closer to the clouds. While it may seem that the change in seasons signals to the natural world that it should slow to a stop, there are beginnings amongst all of the ending.

This past week, my classroom hung the first few in a collection of bird feeders outside our windows. We’ve tracked goldfinches, blue jays, nuthatches, chickadees, and some small woodpeckers outside of our window, and the bird journal is quickly filling up with sightings. The buffet of thistle and sunflower seeds has attracted a wide variety of feathered folks, and we’re proud to feed them suet from a local farm. An outdoor snack time afforded us the opportunity to inspect our feeder-holding crabapple, allowing us to discover the many perfectly round holes pecked into its bark. We’re looking forward to continuing to learn how to identify the bird species found locally, and are planning to participate in some feeder-related citizen science this winter.

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Dear Sarah: Helping Our Teens Take Responsibility

Reiki Positive: Steps to Generate Positivity

Steps to Generate Positivity

Photo courtesy of BK

Break the trance of fear, then shrink the fear with positive energy with these 7 tactics.

  • Name your fear so it cannot ambush you – All of us are afraid of something, but rather than run away or freeze, fear can open you to opportunity and growth. It’s a useful negative emotion to study and gain more knowledge about yourself. Always lock eyes with the fear, name it, and thank it for teaching you, BUT it is not in charge of your life – you are!
  • Listen to your intuition – Practice getting quiet in a deep trance style, with a drum, or guided, or silent, or walking, or in any way you can coax your “brain chatter” to quiet down. Intuition comes to each of us differently, keep listening for it. I hear my intuition when I write or when I listen to moving water. Search for your inner voice.

Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: Passionate Energy

Passionate Energy

Photo courtesy of wishful photog

Winter vacation during a cold snap. 3 kindergarten boys + 2 moms + 1 little sister + local indoor playground = a sanity break for everyone. Climbing structure, water play, firefighter dress up, lunch break. The boys, used to eating together in the school cafeteria, plow through lunchbox contents and are ready to play far more quickly than we are. We suggest they go run around the open space nearby, farther from the tables but still within sight. There’s grabbing and take downs, but all three are smiling and well matched – rules I learned from another mom of boys.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Good Life: The Not Quite Empty Nest

Let Them Grow: Apple Love

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Apple Love

After a trip to Pine Hill Orchard and taste testing several kinds of apples, strolling the quaint hills and admiring the artwork, my kids were obsessed with apples. It just so happen to be Apple Week at the daycare. I was on a mission to make apples even more exciting this year and so were the teachers at the daycare!

We vowed to focus more activities on sensory play and that meant more messy fun. We can up with these go-to fall apple activities that are easy, engaging and beautiful!

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Off the Mat: Homework Time

Homework Time

We’ve made it through another September. Once again, I successfully avoided the back to school shopping circus with my kid. Not yet fashion conscious, his drawer full of t-shirts proved sufficient. Still Minecraft obsessed, he made no request for a new backpack. And wondrously, our district provides the essentials: loose-leaf, composition books, and a stocked pencil box. I was shocked to discover this during Kindergarten orientation years back;  teachers, not parents provide school supplies?! Really??! Really. In our well-resourced town, the system provides the necessary study tools.  Read the rest of this entry »

Reiki Positive: Love Is a Verb

Love is a Verb

Reiki means life force energy. Many of us refer to Reiki as Love, but love can be a tricky word. Love is multi-complex. To some, love means romantic love or adoration or a form of affection. I prefer using the term Reiki because it simplifies these complex ideas into simply offering positive energy to one another.

In Reiki, intentions are extremely powerful. Sending loving wishes to others is not unlike a prayer. In practicing loving-kindness meditations, it trains us to send love and kindness to ourselves, our friends, our family, our neighbors, and even our rivals. That is an act of love, opening the heart. To truly wish people well, even though you may not understand a word they speak or a belief they hold. That is love in action. Can you love the child that calls your son names? Can you love the child that teases your daughter? Can you love the parents that think you are a subpar parent? Love is accepting them regardless of those judgments. Someday it may be your kids doing those things or you being the subpar parent. No one said love was effortless. Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Grow: Three Edible Creative Free-Play Recipes

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Eat What You Play!

Now that my newborn is becoming a toddler overnight, I have begun to include her in toddler–esque art projects. This is exciting in so many ways. As all kids, she explores, experiments and creates every waking moment. Like every one-year-old she loves sensory exposure at its best- mostly by mouth. So, the question became how do I include her without poisoning her, letting her choke, or dumbing down toddler activities? Because she mouths everything and taste it just the same, I decided to create a few sensory activities that would be safe and fun for both infants and toddlers. And what do they both love? Food! Read the rest of this entry »

Reiki Positive: Waves

Waves

Joy is never gone, it is simply forgotten.

Energy is everywhere, even in the waves. I believe in our human potential. I believe our natural disposition is JOYFUL and WHOLE.

I want balance. I don’t want to have my guard up anymore. As my kids grow, I get more and more worried for their safety. But what is safety? Are we ever really safe? How can I know if being on the highway is safer than sitting in a movie theater, is safer than flying in a plane, is safer than swimming in the ocean? Faith.

We went swimming with my kids at the ocean, and watching them was killing me. There were no lifeguards. It was cold. The breakers were hitting me in the crotch. The sun was burning my epidermis. So I decided to join them. Yee! Ha! It was fun to boogie board and enjoy the waves as they knocked into us. It takes your breath away. My kids couldn’t believe I was having fun with them. They were so incredibly happy that I was playing in the water.

On my last day of vacation, I watched from the beach around 7 PM as another family arrived to feel the ocean water. Mom and Dad watched their two kids, who were the same age and gender as mine (8 and 13). The four kids soaked in the positive energy. The parents worrying their eyeballs out on the beach. The father kept yelling from the rocky shore at his son to come back closer. He was clearly stressed out about how deep his son was wading in to the surf. He kept suddenly exploding in an anxious voice, “Christian!” His son diligently responded and walked back to lower water. After the tenth, “Christian!!” the boy rolled his eyes and finally said back to his Dad, “WHAT!?!?!?!”  Then he called his son all the way back in and told him all about riptides and their unpredictability. “You just don’t know,” he explained. “You can’t predict it.” Luckily, the boy went back in the salty surf anyway. That explains why Dad wasn’t swimming.

I hope in your life, you stop worrying about all the risks of waves and just ride them, and know both sides, the worrier and the warrior. I’m happy to report, Christian’s mom put on her suit and was soon screaming with joy in the icy waves with her son and daughter, while Dad stood on the edge!

Photo credit: Valerie

If you’re looking for guidance and support in raising your little ones, Alison would like to help! Send your questions to: a.vale5000@gmail.com


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alison Vale

Alison was born and raised deep in the woods of Pennsylvania, where her childhood imagination ran wild and free. As a scabby-kneed tomboy she seemed fearless, yet as she grew older, her fears and anxieties clearly got worse. She attained her Master’s Degree in Sport Psychology. As a clinical researcher and biostatistician at a university medical center for 18 years, Alison co-authored many medical articles and observed first-hand the short-comings of conventional medicine. She left clinical academia to become a Reiki Master Teacher and author. Her goal is to forge energy medicine into conventional medicine and share more intriguing stories and workshops. She has an 8-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter, and is still learning every hour of every day how to parent.

Off the Mat: Lessons in Unconditional Love from Piggett

Things that Fly

My boy is at school. Kindergarten. A whole new world. He’s only a mile away, much closer than the preschool over-the-river-and-through-the-woods. Still, it feels farther. Distant. I was in and out of his preschool room. Most days we said goodbye at his cubby-hole, but there were regular opportunities to come in and play, read a book, or just cuddle until he was settled.

Now, we say goodbye as he sprints out to the bus. If he remembers to say goodbye. He goes into a big building and hangs his new big backpack in a cubby I have never seen. May never see.

Apparently, stuffies don’t go to kindergarten.

I remember him that very first day, all wrinkled and noisy. Read the rest of this entry »

The Family Plant Nursery: Homestead-Scale Propagation Projects

The Family Plant Nursery: Homestead-Scale Propagation Projects

I started learning about propagation because I wanted edible and medicinal perennial plants for my budding homestead and I quickly realized that buying them in any kind of quantity would cost more than I was prepared to pay. So my adventure in plant propagation began. I set up a little nursery of desirable species by sourcing cuttings from friends, grafting onto the wild crab apples on my land, and planting seeds. It took way more time than the nursery-bought alternative, and it was not always tidy or efficient, but I learned a ton. Helping plants to grow and reproduce uplifts the spirit, induces a reverence for nature, and can even nourish the body. I hope you will seek the magic out for yourself and share the joy with your family.

Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Grow: Water & Color

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Water & Color

It is still summer and that means it is still time for toddlers and preschoolers to play with water. Water has been the theme of our lives over the last six weeks and I love it. I love watching children mesmerized by water play. Pouring and measuring, filling and carrying and dumping – the only thing that makes it more fun is adding color! Here are some easy and fun water based art projects to keep your little one engaged in sensory and science play. Read the rest of this entry »

Plantastic! A Horticultural Journey

On the Pursuit of Plant Wisdom

I grew up barely able to tell the difference between a maple leaf and an oak leaf. I perceived, somewhat dimly, that the crunchy green things I put into my mouth when I ate a salad were plant-related. And now I work with plants for a living. I still have so much to learn in my journey toward plant literacy, but I’ve certainly come a long way. I’m taking my family along for the ride, too. If I’m patient enough, and lucky enough, my kids will not only know the names, biology, and uses of plants in our area, they’ll have a deep and long-lasting reverence for the magic of the natural world. What follows are some of the best tools I’ve made use of along the way:

Credit: Emma Frisch

Learn about (and eat) wild edibles. What better way to learn about plants than to digest them? As we know, an experience that engages all five senses will stick in the mind far longer than a paragraph read on the internet. You’ll feel the texture and taste of the plant on your tongue, and feel the way it sits in your stomach. Go on a wild edible walk with a knowledgeable guide to learn what’s safe and good to eat. Taste the surprising sweetness of black locust flowers, crack open your first shagbark hickory nut, bring home a sack of fiddleheads and sauté them up (as my wife has done the past few springs) for your loved ones. There is a world of gastronomic delight right outside your door. Nature’s Garden by Samuel Thayer is the most enjoyable book on the subject I’ve encountered. Though I haven’t personally taken any, I hear Earthwork Wilderness Survival Training School offers informative classes all through the summer and fall.

Read the rest of this entry »

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