Friday, February 18, 2011

I smell like a Gypsy.....

....and its great, every little bit of me is smoked with wood fire.
I have not been camping on this drizzling, cold and windy day. But I have kept remarkably warm inside and out.
It was pizza day in Madeleine's kindergarten. Each Friday a parent volunteers to keep the fire going in the outdoor pizza oven whilst the wee ones go for their time in the woods. Today twas me.
Madeleine has been so excited. I have done it once before and each week she has asked me to do it again. Last sunday she hung a piece of paper over her bed, and every morning she had drawn a little green cross on it to count down the days to today. Her excitement has been a joy to share and a realization on my part on how important it is for her, and me, that I come to spend time there. It too, is a wonderful opportunity to share in the kindergarten and get a little birds eye view( or a little robin's eye view to be exact) of the unfolding of a morning in Madeleine's life there. I come away always wanting to be there more.

The oven is built cob style and sits in the baking house, an open wooden structure that has stood its test of winds and rains and held strong. On one side its filled with wood for burning, picked from forest paths or cut by and brought by children, staff and parents. On the walls, pieces of wood that have twisted and turned naturally in a way that is beautiful and been collected and brought by one or another over the years. Then there are benches set out for little ones and whoever comes to share the meal.
Its a kind building with ever open arms come wind, rain or shine and a warm hearth never cold for long.

When I arrived this morning, there was a silver pot in the the oven. When we pulled it out we found fleece was in it being dyed in Lichen and having sat in the warm embers of yesterday's fire. It had done its work and dyed to a yellow tone. One of the kindergarten assistants is a fiber artist, who makes natural dye. One particular day, she showed me a basket of her wooly treasures. What a richness of color, all wools dyed with plants from the woods, often collected with the children. It was a treasure basket indeed, and made me want to use nothing but natural pigment in my own work somehow. ( a thought not lost, and a goal for some point in the road)

I am so deeply contented to sit by any fire. This is a happy job for me. This one holds more than heat though, there is a little magic to be had there, and to witness too. Little children all between the ages of four and seven come and go from it like butterflies with helping hands or news to tell or little things to show that they have made in the wood. Great spirited expressions at each part of the lighting process and the choosing of the logs to burn next. And every now and then, another little warm hand slips into mine with a smile and a hello that would melt any heart.
Maddy was beside herself with excitement at my presence, and what seemed like utter satisfaction that she was to have me there all morning. Soon though she found her play and fluttered off with the rest of them.

Circle time comes then, where there is greetings and welcoming of the day by all the children and staff, lovely irish songs were sung, that jog my memory to my early school days, airs and old words of my mother tongue come floating back to me as I hum along.
All is quiet after circle. They have gone to the woods for their walk, another little adventure to be had.
This quiet time is when I hear the sparks, the crackle, the sounds of warmth and the smells of wood around me, in the wet from the rain and the sizzle in the fire. Quietude!
A little robin visits each pizza day, fat and wise with his choice of trees to build his nest. I have brought my crochet and worn my coat with big pockets, enough room for my ball of yarn to turn whilst I make my rounds and it pull through. I lean back with a big breath and work away.
I am making yet another hat, a pink one for Spring. I see Maddy's winter hat getting heavier and hotter in this weather, soon I think it will itch in the woods from sweat and heavy wool against her forehead. This one is in a lighter merino, its a beret shape, which seems more spring.

A little help with cleaning inside and then it rains gently and there is a change to the air and the sounds. I hear voices in the distance, they are on their way back. I think of the seven dwarves returning from the mines, but I am no snow white and these are butterflies are they not?,  newly popped from their silk cocoons. In all their colorful raincoats they return ready for pizza, with twig puppets and dragonflies made with sticks and fleece, rushes and lichen.
Madeleine all smiles and at my side ready for baking with her friends.

It all feels very peaceful. I would never have imagined before experiencing Waldorf education for young children, that being around so many little ones, could be so peaceful. But it is!  I know it comes with this immense reverence too. There is a constant sense that each child is considered and cared for and such an aura of natural respect for each other which is also being constantly nurtured by the staff. There is of course a great method to this and a great deal of understanding, experience and theory that creates this space where children get to be children, to play and be entirely themselves without pressure but for an expectation of goodness amongst themselves. And through their day they are all learning all they need to learn through imitation of each other, and the staff through song and rhyme, through play and climbing and walking, communicating and really being allowed to just be in a natural state of being.
I felt like I had just come from a retreat today of at least three days of silent meditation and a large slice of mindfulness. Here I was again with all these wise folks all present and bright, with more wisdom then all their years put together. Their ability to be present and happy with each simple thing. For a while at least, no rushing about, no car seats to strap into, no shopping or banking or Mommy making phone calls or planning something or other. Just a garden by the woods, sitting, eating pizza in the rain with a great band of friends, and being very glad about it.
That sounds like a Haiku: )

xx As always Thank you dear reader

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