Saturday’s Share: Living A Learning Life

Jeremiah and Annalise learning history on the roadside…another day in our lives. Photo credit: Shan Jeniah Burton.


At Aiden Lair, Minerva in New York’s,Adirondack State Park, September 4, 2013. Photo credit: Shan jeniah Burton.

Welcome to Saturday’s Share – Reflections and impressions inspired by and celebrating images from daily life, to add a bit of sparkle to the weekend. Happy Saturday!

What does the first day of school mean to you? A return to a familiar pace and schedule? Homework, bedtime, and getting-up battles? Memories of your own school days? The first turning of leaves, and days so achingly lovely that it seemed a shame to be caught indoors, the summer “officially” but not truly over?

Today’s Share is of Jeremiah and Annalise, at a point of historical interest, during what, for many children in our area, was the first day of school.

As you can see, they did not go to school last Wednesday. Neither of them have ever attended school, although one or both may choose to, one day. For now they are choosing to go about their living, learning from anything and everything as they go.

This year, we decided to take advantage of perfect late-summer weather, Jim having a rare Wednesday off, and the sudden drop-off of weekday visitors at local attractions, and drive into the mountains to the Wild Center of the Museum of the Adirondacks.

We didn’t take into account that most of the family would be awake well into the early-morning hours, or that the drive would turn out to be longer than we remembered. It became clear about 30 miles from the lake that we wouldn’t make it there in time to enjoy the museum.

That was about the time we ran into the major road construction, and pulled over at this historical marker, near a formidable and deserted building, and re-assessed our plans for the afternoon.

And so we learned that the building was Aiden Lair, and that Theodore Roosevelt had stopped here, on his surrey ride to be sworn in as President.

So, instead of observing otters and facsimile calving glaciers, as we’d planned, we ended up learning this intriguing tidbit about our state – I hadn’t known that any President had been sworn in in Buffalo, and now I do. We know, too, that what the looming old structure was once a popular huntsmens’ lodge and stagecoach stop.

We decided, shortly after this picture was taken, to drive back to Lake George Village, something Jim and I had been planning to do with the kids at some point. We walked along the shops leading to Million Dollar Beach. Most of the tour boats were already tied up – after Labor Day, most tours are weekends-only. We saw the Mohican come in, chatted about the French name of the Lac du Saint Sacrement, studied the paddlewheel on the steam-powered Minne-ha-ha, and noticed that the Adirondac, a stately vessel, was tied in only a few feet of water – its prow is sharp and shallow.

We watched SNUBA divers, petted some dogs, window shopped, and wandered through a little garden tucked away beside the main path. We took a peek at the entrance to Fort William Henry, and decided that we might tour it, one day.

And then we saw a surrey with fringe on top. I sang a bit from Oklahoma, and we remembered that Theodore Roosevelt had traveled by surrey on the way to his inauguration.

That’s how learning works, for us – in wandering journeys and changes in plans, in spontaneous adventures, in talking and laughing and just being open to what’s right here, wherever here is. It’s making connections, and allowing time for things to unfold the way they do, and engaging in a life of choice.

It’s understanding that we are always learning, and, even when it seems that we’re just hanging out with one another, that things connect in many ways, and there is no way to tell the full scope of the value of anything learned, in the instant of learning.

It’s knowing that there is a kind of learning, and connection, that is wild and free, outside on a lovely day, that’s just being together and present, that could never be designed with lesson plans and itineraries, but which unfurls perfectly when just given the space and time.

This picture reminds me that there is more to learning than facts and figures…and sometimes I need to remember this, because, after all, I went to school, and there are times when I worry a little about this responsibility I’ve undertaken to facilitate rather than command my children’s learning, to let them grow naturally rather than pruning them into a predetermined shape.

Someday, one or both of them might decide to go to school, and I’m glad I will have this image and this day, to remind me that, as Oscar Wilde said,

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.

How about you? Have you found learning in expected places? Changed plans and had the delight of something vivid, rich, and spontaneous? Experienced the swirling eddies, waterfalls, and ponds of natural learning? Just had a sparkling, magical family day, at any age?

I love when my readers share, Saturday or anytime!


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