Monday, June 12, 2017

Summer Afternoons

My sons and Tasha' grandsons in her canoe on Tasha's pond

Summer Afternoons
When I was a young mother, one of Tasha’s greatest gifts to me was her example of discipline. My husband, John and I were thinking of homeschooling our two sons, but I wondered how could I fit in even more work into both my creative and farm life? Like Tasha, we lived a fairly simple life with only a few solar panels for electricity, a wood cook stove that heated our house and our hot water, and a huge garden to feed the family.
“How did you manage?” I asked Tasha. “You raised four children without electricity, cared for your animals, garden, and established a career as an illustrator/author? And for a while, you home schooled your off-spring.” I didn’t add the book tours and countless other roles she had fulfilled.
“Yes,” Tasha said and stirred cream into her tea as we sat on her porch on a mild spring day. A few snow drops bloomed and her garden was stirring with hints of buds. A blue jay flashed by us.
“It takes a certain amount of discipline to accomplish goals, and, of course, my children had responsibilities. They weeded in the garden, helped with the animals, and performed in the marionette shows when we created. So they truly contributed to the life of the farm.”
I nibbled on a buttered biscuit with a sliver of cheddar cheese in its middle. Minus the marionette shows, my sons also attended to our goats and chickens and weeded in the garden with me.
“And I always made sure that if they finished their lessons and their work, we would spend part of the afternoon at the river. While they splashed and swam or paddled the canoe, I would sketch and find ideas for the next book or cards. But if they didn’t do their work, then we skipped that special treat.” Tasha sipped her tea. “They learned early that the discipline of completing their responsibilities was much better than staying home.”
Back at my home, I applied the same parenting technique to my boys. If they finished their lessons and jobs, then they could swim in our pond or dig in the sandy shore. Sitting at our picnic table in the shade of a tall maple tree, I could write letters or even read. Tasha’s wisdom was good advice, and today when I spy our quiet pond, I recall my sons enjoying the summer afternoon, just like Tasha’s children when they cooled off in their river.