My daughter became a high school student this year, she has yet to recover. High school isn’t what most people think of when they say, “THOSE were the days.” At least, not people I want to spend time with. For me, high school simply was where they stored us until they could safely release us into the general population. My daughter’s high school has a grander plan, it actually wants to help form the students into thoughtful people, but even so, she has many days she considers “wasted.” Forced to focus on facts and topics she would much rather leave behind for a walk in the woods or even the hard work of cleaning stalls in the barn or catching goats for hoof trimming. I can’t admit it to her, I pretend like her angst is over-dramatic, but like much in motherhood, I secretly relate. She has her mother’s longing for the great outdoors. We love the weather, all the weather, in its many forms. We discovered long ago that human beings, dressed correctly, don’t melt in the rain or even freeze in the snow, it’s only the summer heat that wears us to the point of breaking. So we go out in all forms of precipitation to feed and care for our animals, to stand with our hoods off and bask in the cold and the wet, just for a moment. It’s so much quieter out there where nobody else wants to be. It gives us peace and a chance to hear from our hearts and our maker. Reality is always happening out there in the big world, and I think it sets us in our proper place. Things die despite our best intentions, like chicks and ducks and rabbits and grapevines and tomato plants. And just as humbling, things live despite our best intentions, like weeds and poison ivy and mosquitoes and flies. We humans are not safe from the onslaught of nature and show scars from past battles with thorns, hooves and horns. Yet, given the choice of Algebra or gardening, it’s an easy decision every time. One just has an inherit level of adventure the other is lacking. I have no scars from Algebra.
I greatly value education and think thinking is a very important skill. I would not want my children to go into the world unarmed against the intellects that wish to convince them that thinking should best be left to the experts. I believe high school is an excellent time to discover your convictions, find the history to support or change your mind and the language to convey those convictions. And yet, I understand my daughter’s longing to escape it all to touch what is real and has always been. To connect with beauty, goodness and truth through the timeless things that were placed here and remain despite as well as because of us. And that requires a walk in the woods, especially if it is snowing.