Yesterday, our crew of summering educators visited Weir Farm National Park for a day of nature writing and ecological literacies. Partnered through the National Writing Project's suggestion, arrangements were made to learn more about the location, but also to have time to pain with water colors and to, later in the afternoon, work with teacher consultant Rich Novak on nature writing and building an ecological awareness with the young people we work with.
It was hot - we knew it would be. We lucked out, though, from the storms, that arrived just as we were leaving.
Rich instructed us to find a location and simply listen for ten minutes. After, he instructed us to write about something we may have never noticed before. Earlier, walking with Lizzie - a community activist from Danbury - I showed her jewell weed growing by poison ivy. She never heard of it, and she thought it interesting that something so invasive to human skin could grow so near the magical popping of the 'touch-me-nots.' It was on my mind when Rich gave us our assignment and I was sitting along a stone wall where a tree had begun to break through the rocks. The man-made structures (celebrated through the family wealth of Weir farm from post Industrial & World War success stories of family traditions) were battling with Mother Nature who has another plan. I though about how the tour guide kept crediting this sister or that for building this or that garden or stone wall, when it became obvious that the acts were too large for any individual and more than likely were designed through servants and low-paid employees.
And I though of the refugee artwork of Rick Shaefer and the boundaries we are going to discuss later this summer. Upon Rich's command, I fused the hike, the attempt at painting with water color, and Rich's assignment to write for ten minutes.
This is the result.