Tell Me a Story about … Leaves!

11-5-18 B.jpgA few questions for you:

·       Have you ever raked leaves?

·       Have you ever jumped in a pile of raked leaves?

·       Have you ever re-raked and re-raked piles of leaves in which others have jumped?

·       Have you ever gathered an armful of leaves and thrown them on a sibling or friend … or parent, if you dared?

·       Have you ever tried to remove bits of crumbled leaves, broken twigs, and dried grasses from your hair after a leaf battle?

·       Have you ever thrown leaves in the air in abandon, watching them freefall in the wind for a second time?

How many “yes” answers did you have? If four or more, you are a true autumn-leaf-play aficionado—which simply means you love to frolic in autumn leaves! You thrill to the sound of your feet crunching over crispy orange oak leaves covering the sidewalks or the sight of red maple leaves flipping across the ground as you kick them over and over. 

Maybe you, as I, have special memories of these things. One of my favorites I participated in, but another I enjoyed the aftermath of the fun. 

The latter came in a photograph, my favorite of all-time, the one which graces my Facebook blog page and my business cards. One year for my birthday, our daughters asked a friend for a photo shoot of the three of them. They chose autumn, my favorite season, and Little Buffalo State Park as the location, a place where we have many fond memories. Some photos showed silly girls with tiny pumpkins on their heads (no names mentioned). Others gave Mama a heart attack when seeing her offspring hanging off beams in a covered bridge. But the one of the girls tossing leaves in the air, joy on their faces, blesses me most. 

Now, the one I took part in! Our one son-in-love grew up in a city and had never raked a pile of leaves. So, as soon as our oak tree dropped most of its yellow-orange leaves, I encouraged him to bring his then four-year-old daughter, Rosemary, for a day of leaf play. 

To keep warm in the late autumn chill, we bundled up in sweaters and headed out. I handed the rake to Rosemary’s dad and said, “Here you go! Rake all these leaves into one huge pile!” 

He looked around at the large area covered by leaves from a giant tree and gave me a look that said, “Do what?!” I smiled and grabbed Rosemary’s hand to show her how to kick the leaves as fast as Daddy raked them. He raked, we kicked, leaves flew! 11-5-18 A.JPG

Finally, I corralled Rosemary by having her lie down so her mama and I could cover her with leaves. While she giggled and wiggled, her daddy finished the pile. Rosemary and I held hands, raced across the now bare grass, and leapt into the leaves, spreading them far and wide. 

Daddy looked a bit bewildered as I handed him the rake he’d put down. Being a good sport, though, he reraked the pile over and over to his daughter’s delight. Her joy rang out as she jumped in pile after pile … with me, with her mama, and, giving him a break from raking, with her daddy. 

What a fun memory! I just know God has a big old leaf-pile up there in heaven waiting for those of His children who love the feeling of flying through the air to land in a mountain of orange, red, and gold. And you know what? I think Jesus will be jumping in right beside us!

*** Do you just love jumping in autumn leaves? Share a story with us! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing! 

*** If you leave a comment, check back for my reply to it. I always respond to comments!

Tell Me a Story about … Magazines!

FOF 1 A (3)How recently have you meandered into a bookstore and checked out the magazine racks … and racks … and racks? Even with the number of magazine publishers closing, there remains a plethora of choices to fit any age, any interest. Women’s magazines full of recipes and homemaking tips. Men’s magazines filled with car engines and fishing lures. Kids’ magazines with puzzles and coloring pages. How can anyone decide on just one?

Being a writer and having an extra share of cFOF 1 C (2)reativity, when it came to teaching our daughters about writing, I chose not to focus on reports—the dreaded book reports of elementary school and those nasty 10-pagers of secondary levels. I figured the skills necessary to write those scholarly pieces could come through a more fun and no-less-educational foray into the world of magazine-making.

While studying animals, we created whole magazines with stories, poems, and more. Pictures cut out of glossy nature magazines and pasted on notebook paper allowed them to write short articles about the animals, which included a bit of research and teaching on journalism styles. Lists of horse breeds or FOF 2 B (2)habitats became word search puzzles. Pictures made from those old trace-and-color books became “Color Your Own Picture” pages.

Even comic strips drawn on blank sheets of copy paper offered lessons: art, dialogue, comedy writing. Add construction paper covers and staples to hold them all together and we had a magazine to treasure … and put in the portfolios for proof of our lessons in English, math, sciencFOF 2 A (3)e, art, and more.

With ten years between the first two daughters’ school years and their sister Faith’s, I had the joy of doing this exercise twice. I remember Faith called her magazine Kit’s Kreatures, after her favorite American Girl.

But Faith didn’t stop there. One day she came to me and said, “MaFOF 2 C (2)ma, I want to make my own magazine and sell subscriptions to it!” And so we did … and Focus on Fun was born.

Over the next four years, Faith developed, designed, and co-wrote her own 16-page magazine, with as many as 22 subscriptions one year. We kitchen-table published it, as professionally as we could, being lucky enough to own a copier (perks of a husband who works in the office products industry). Though often stressed to get the current issue out on time, we still enjoyed the brainstorming for each issue, choosing new “columns” and other articles to write.

This venture also gave Faith an incredible foundation in running her own business with credits and debits, overhead and invoices. The entire experience filled her homeschool FOF 1 B (2)days with more learning, academic and life-skills, than any 10-page research paper would have brought her. And it was a whole lot more fun!

The photos included with this post are from various issues of Focus on Fun. If anyone is interested in how we went about this, contact us at legaciesletloose@gmail.com!

*** Have you ever written a magazine article? Do you read any magazines regularly? Share your thoughts with us! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

*** If you leave a comment, check back for my reply to it. I always respond to comments!

Tell Me a Story about … Dinosaurs!

9-5-18 E“Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous! Such difficult words, my gracious! They happened, you know, way back long ago, for these were the dinosaur ages!” 

Ah, how the words of that simple poem ring in the ears of my memories! We chose to homeschool our daughters, and what a delight that experience brought this mama! God used my desire to teach in the best way possible. And having an outlet for my overly-active creativity added my own uniqueness to the fun. 

One year, we did a unit on dinosaurs, complete with two huge, 3-D cardboard dinos displayed for the first day. The poem above came from a cassette tape with an hour’s worth of dinosaur poems and songs, including “Danny, the Dancing Dinosaur” who “loved to dance and he loved to roar”! I recall snippets from others, but the short poem above stood out because our daughters loved saying the “big words.” In fact, they could say parasaurolophus and ichthyosaurus long before I could even identify them! 

That September, we took a trip to Dinosaurland in Virginia. During our drive, I slipped the dino 9-5-18 Fcassette into the car’s tape player to surprise the girls. Singing with different music helped pass the time. This one delighted the girls and their mama and would be played often, with lots of dinosaur stomping and roaring … and little girl giggles. 

Dinosaurland brought thrills as we toured the park-like grounds. What’s behind that tree? Oh my! A stegosaurus! And over there … is that … could that be … yes, it is! It’s a tyrannosaurus rex! And look! There’s blood on its mouth from its recent kill lying on the ground in front of him! (Daddy thought this a realistic display, but mama hurried the girls towards the gift shop!)  

On the homefront, one of the reading activities we did remains a favorite of the girls. Each of them picked a dinosaur—a brontosaurus for Holly and a triceratops for Sarah. (Note: this came before we realized there’s no such thing as a brontosaurus! What we grew up calling a brontosaurus, the paleontologists first called an Apatosaurus and first names stand. ) 

9-5-18 BWe found the length of each dinosaur … without the benefit of internet for all of you hurrying to google it. Holly’s came in at a whopping 75 feet, while “Cera” barely topped 30. Next, we cut one-foot lengths of colored yarn. Each time the girls read a book, they chose a colored strand and tied it to the last one they’d chosen, winding them into a raggedy ball. Of course, since “Cera’s” ball was completed sooner, “our Sarah” started adding to the bronto-ball to finish it. 

To end our unit study, we bought the girls wooden skeleton kits to put together. Did you ever try to glue the backbones of a triceratops down it’s curvy spine, trying to decide if this piece is a tiny bit bigger than that one, making it needed closer to the end of the tail? And how in the 9-5-18 Dworld do you make a parasaurolophus’ long head protrusions stay in place?

I don’t think God had this much trouble when He put those skeletal pieces together to create dinosaurs, but I’m glad He did so. What joy the animal world in all its many varieties, past and present, brings to our family and many others around the world!

*** What dinosaur memories tromp through your mind? Share some with us! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

*** If you leave a comment, check back for my reply to it. I always respond to comments!

Tell Me a Story about … deer!

8-9-18 C (2)I love this photo taken by our daughter Faith. First, I think the photo itself showcases her photography gifting. Second, I enjoy the walks we take in the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, also called Pine Creek Gorge, where she took this photo. And finally, I love it because I love the whitetail deer!

If asked my favorite sport, I’d say, “Spotting deer.” As evening falls at the cabin, most of us start changing clothes and getting flashlights and cameras ready for one of the most fun parts of our day. In the higher mountains, cooler air from a rolled-down window brings a chill not there during the day, so shorts and T-shirts are exchanged for jeans and sweatshirts. In my childhood and part of our daughters’, we would need heavy coats and gloves to keep warm enough. Global warming, I suppose. Smaller children get pajamas so they can transition to bed easier once we get back.

Discussions come next about who rides in whose car. Young people prefer to ride together so they can chat; older people prefer the luxury of space to sit in comfort. And the rest, well, they get shoved in here and there. Then we pick where to start for drivers to know the route for the caravan. Do we begin on “Alan’s Road,” so dubbed after my Uncle Alan bought his own camp on it? Or take a chance at seeing a bear near Lyman Lake before it got dark?

Last, arguments break out if there are any youth along about whose turn it is to use the spotlight. This coveted position gives the one spotting the best view of the deer or bear or porcupine or, if certain people are along, a yeti (for those who believe in that story or to scare those who don’t).

My excitement equals that of the youngest spotters as we turn onto the first dirt road. 8-9-18 EWatching the spotlight or the headlights, depending on our seat in the car, we wait for glimpses of shining eyes in the spotlight or some critter crossing the road in front of us. I never lose the delight of a doe’s warm eyes if close enough to see them or of the white spots dotting the tiny fawns. I never tire of using the binoculars to see if the deer sports antlers to excite the hunters in the car. And I never forget the count … um, was that fifty-two or fifty-three … oh well, maybe I do. 

God blessed us with an amazing world full of animals to watch and care for and love. To me, the sight of deer frolicking in a meadow or stretching their graceful necks to reach the apples on the tree will never fail to bring a smile and fill my day with an extra measure of joy.

*** Did you ever go spotting deer? Tell us about your times or about another “deer” story you have in mind. Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

*** If you leave a comment, check back for my reply to it. I always respond to comments!

*** Next week, in honor of back-to-school, I’ll share a story from our homeschool days!

Tell Me a Story about … a Lane!

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane … or at least down the memories of a certain lane, the one leading from the main road to the cabin we call camp.

Dirt or grassy lanes draw me, entice me to follow them. Deer trails, hiking paths, even lawn mower tracks say, “Come see where I go!” But I know exactly where the lane to the cabin goes—my heaven on earth.

No matter how old I get, the thrill of watching as we round the 8-20-18 Bbends in the road from Galeton, PA, toward camp never lessens. I inch forward on the seat, straining against the seatbelt, picturing the final turn. There it is! The farm where the owner lives and the barn where he used to milk his cows in days gone by. (I would watch the owner’s kids bring the cows from the pasture, across the creek, and down the lane to the barn, only to repeat it the next morning in reverse.) The lane, tucked between the two buildings, never changes, except from rutted and dusty in the hottest months to rutted and muddy from recent rain showers.

8-20-18 ARounding the first corner, we come to a one-lane wooden bridge. I close my eyes and bring back the times when, as youths, my brothers or I would get out of the car to unhook and re-hook the chains across the entrance and exit of the bridge, although we could never understand why they needed a chain stretched across both ends of a one-car-length bridge. Today, no chains bar the way, but the ghosts of them clank in my mind as we cross.

I’m now almost bouncing in my seat like a toddler on a jumping horse. Another few yards and I’ll be able to see the cabin! There’s the other camp on the right which never has any vacationers, but where we once saw a bear digging in the rusty burn barrel in plain daylight. My mom had wound her window down to talk to him … until he advanced toward the car. Wow, could she ever wind up a window fast! Good thing it wasn’t one of those slow-moving automatic jobs, right?

“We’re here! We’re here!” Echoes of our joyous cries from childhood mingle with today’s yaps of our dog as he catches onto my excitement, not really understanding it, but knowing it must be something fun. And oh, how right he is. But it’s also so much more—it’s family, it’s home, it’s8-20-18 E (2) heaven—even if it’s only for a week.

We pull up in front of the porch and I push at the car door, wondering why it won’t open, then laughing at myself for not pulling on the handle first. The first gurgling of the creek hits my ears, the first musty scent from the open cabin door fills my nose and my memories, taking me back to the days of my youth, when four scrambling dogs, three wild kids, and two grateful parents poured from the side doors and back hatch of our loaded-down-and-overflowing station wagon.

We’re here! The end of the lane—but not the end of the memories, not when we make new ones each time we drive back this particular memory lane.

*** Where has a lane led you in your life? Tell us about it! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

*** Next week’s post sports one of my favorite photos our photographer daughter has taken!

 

Tell Me a Story about … a Creek!

8-13-18 C (2)Thunder echoed through the hollow, rattling the loose window pane in the cabin door. The afternoon’s thunderstorm had grown into a wailing, angry force, and with the darkness, it seemed to be trying to fight its way inside the cabin. Rain pounded the roof, wind howled and whipped the walls and windows. Lightning bolts streaked across the night sky, leaving eerie periods of illumination.

Inside the cabin, most of the children and adults slept through the ruckus. Some of us, however, could not. Thunder storms bouncing around the mountains could scare an avid storm-chaser, but this one seemed more intense than any before. It roared overhead and burst from the hollow as though chased by unseen demons.

We could hear the water of the small creek, which had gently flowed between its banks during 8-13-18 Bthe earlier part of the day, change to something from a movie about whitewater rafting. Huge crashes, one after another, sounded like dynamite exploding, first up the hollow a ways, then closer, in front of the cabin in which we sat listening, shivering, wondering if the building would blow apart any second.

After the long night of sleepless terrors, the morning showed the incredible power of the storm. The sun had returned, but the torrential rains had swollen the creek, swirling waters pounded the banks, seeking an outlet to the tension from the night before. The ground felt swampy beneath our feet.

What astounded us most was the layout of the creek itself. It did not resemble that of 8-13-18 Ayesterday, nor of the years I’d spent wading its waters. During the night, what we mistook for thunder was huge boulders tossed by rising waters. Rocks, as large as monster truck tires, had been tossed like leaves across the water and deposited in another section of the creek hundreds of feet downstream. The power necessary to uproot these boulders from where they’d sat for who knows how long and tumble them like children’s building blocks to a new resting place, seemed unimaginable. We’d heard it, we saw the aftermath, but we couldn’t take it in.

 That storm made us more aware of our human frailty and God’s power. He created the earth with a word, causes the storms to rumble, commands the sun and moon to rise and set. His power can toss a boulder, crumble it to bits, yet He created us, frail human beings who need His help to breathe and live each day. And He does so because He loves us. Wow … 

 *** Do you have a memory about a creek you’d like to share with us? Please do! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

 *** Next week, a post written while vacationing this weekend at this wonderful place!

 

Tell Me a Story about … Camp!

Only four days! Four days until we pack the car with duffel bags, pillows, sleeping bags … and the dog, and head for Potter County and CAMP!Potter County!!

Oh, how I love that word! That place! Camp to others may mean somewhere they attended as a child—playing games and learning songs around a campfire for a week each summer. To some it brings memories of camping adventures, with a tent or an RV, doing all the same things as at summer camps only with family and close friends.

But to me, “camp” holds all my most-cherished memories. Over the life of this blog, I’ll share many of those with you, starting with the posts for August, one of our favorite months to go there.

The cabin we call “camp” sits at the base of a mountain and at the mouth of a hollow, alongside a creek, in the Blue Mountain range of Potter County, PA. The Jolly 9 Hunting Club rents the cabin for its members to use during hunting and fishing seasons. These members can reserve times to take their families and friends there for vacations.

Our extended family all planned their vacation times for the same week and traveled by caravan. A hand waved out a window or flashing headlights seen in a rear-view mirror alerted others to stop for a bathroom break for kids or dogs. The trip included a picnic lunch beside the “rusty creek,” a gorgeous, shaded pine grove by the side of a creek with mineral deposits which caused the rocks to become rust-colored.
Camp!!!
Upon arrival at camp, everyone chose their favorite bunks and unpacked. Having so many people together in a three-room cabin, caused quite a bit of noise. With the original exposed beams on the ceiling and walls, we could really “make those rafters ring.” From the smallest child to the oldest adult, merry-making filled the days and nights.

By day, we waded in the creek less than a stone’s toss from the front porch or played the old-fashioned game of quoits, similar to horseshoes except with donut-shaped rubber quoits to toss over the posts. At night, we went spotting deer and toad-finding (after a rainstorm), finishing off with cocoa, hot enough to make it gooey with melting marshmallows. Then we’d break out the cards and play rounds of rummy, Uno, or Blitz until well after midnight, a double delight for us kids.

In fact, the only activity in this idyllic place which did not include the word “fun” was the necessary treks to the outhouse. But no one seemed to truly mind … well, except my one sister-in-love, who detested any speck of dirt and would have gladly scrubbed it down with Clorox and Lysol. One time, my dad snuck out before she got up in the morning and posted a sign on the outhouse door: “Sister’s dreamhouse”! (Name changed to protect the innocent!)

Camp! Less than four days to go! See you there!

*** What does the word “camp” bring to your memory bank? Please, share your story! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

 *** Next week, another post about this marvelous place!