Wednesday, April 29, 2015

South Haven; Voices From the Land Workshop

When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer
By Walt Whitman

When I hear the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figure, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wonder'd off by myself,
in the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.

June 18th and 19th there will be a Voices From the Land Workshop held in South Haven, Michigan at the Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum.  I can't wait!  The folks from the Monarch Teacher's Network are coming to lead this workshop and it is sure to please those of us who believe that learning is about inspiration, creativity and making connections with the world around us to foster a lifelong love for learning and for this amazing planet earth that we call home.  

Those who attend will be taught specifics on generating and inspiring writing, working in collaboration, embedding math and science skills and using internet publishing applications.  Ultimately, the workshop's goal is to not only foster listening to the land, but also to the voice and gifts of each individual through a hands-on, integrated outdoor learning experience.  And what could be better than that?

If you are interested in joining us on this adventure into nature and learning, contact Brian Hayes at or check it out on the Monarch Teacher's Network ( )  This conference not only includes inspiration and joy, it also includes a catered lunch on Thursday and continuing education credits!  

"How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick [of high stakes testing]
Till rising and gliding out I wonder'd off [to the Voices Workshop!]..."

Consider joining us for two days of educational joy and great fun!  It takes a village to raise our children.  Let's make sure that village includes Voices from the Land!    

Peace and Love

Saturday, April 11, 2015


By Rainer Maria Rilke

Spring!  And Earth is like a child
who has learned many poems by heart.
For the trouble of that long learning
she wins the prize.

Her teacher was strict.  We loved the white
of the old man's beard.  Now we can ask her
the many names of green, of blue,
and she knows them, she knows them!

Earth, school is out now.  You're free
to play with the children.  We'll catch you,
joyous Earth.  The happiest will catch you!

All that the teacher taught her --the many thoughts
pressed now into roots and long
tough stems:  she sings!  She sings!

Sonnets to Orpheus I, 21
Translated by Joanna Macy & Anita Barrows

After a long winter and a solid week of rain, the earth teaches us again of new life.  Winter always holds the spirit and the potential for joy.  For those of us who have been schooled by the darkness of winter, let us be reminded that it holds in its roots the many names of green and blue.  

This poem I send out especially to Erik (my son John's roommate) who has been schooled by winter this past year, more than his young life should have had to bear.  Every winter, holds the potential of spring!  I wish you warmth and happiness.   

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Spring Sounds

I went out into our school backyard one evening last week looking for signs of spring.  The path and woods were alive with all sorts of things --there were mushrooms and mosses and fragile (actually probably very sturdy) sprouts here and there.  Buds were just beginning to appear on the trees and shrubs.  I scared up a rabbit that was perhaps the very one who left prints in the snow this past winter for my class and I to find with great delight.  But the most remarkable thing to me on that walk were the sounds.  I felt a bit like I was in the midst of hundreds of conversations that I couldn't quite decipher.  A foreigner in a foreign land.  Instinct (and spring) told me the conversations were mating and territorial calls . . . everyone finding their purpose and place.  I walked with the generalized feeling of being in the midst of many demanding voices after a long winter wait.  I recorded the above songs coming out of the wetlands.  It was the sound of two individuals calling in the early evening.  When you hear a whole chorus of these, you know what they are . . . but that evening, I wasn't sure if these impressive first soloists were bird or frog.  Thankfully, I emailed Russ Schipper, who graciously identified the sounds . . . spring peepers!!!!  A couple days later, the whole wetland area was screaming these sounds and spring seems in a full, all out ruckus.  Thank God!  It has been a long winter!  Happy spring to the peepers, and all those of us who have waited patiently (and not so patiently) for a sign of new life!