Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sacred Ministry

The Sower, 1850 - Millet
We began a new semester of our Charlotte Mason community, Truth, Beauty, Goodness.  You can see our schedule and a few new pics on the TBG page. So many good things! I hope to eventually share those things with you.  Meanwhile, here are some thoughts on Charlotte Mason's beloved Jean-Francois Millet.

Our first print to study was The Sower.  Heidi read this sublime passage to us: 
Millet produced a figure which had long occupied his thoughts. We know what a serious affair the sowing is to an agricultural people. Plowing, manuring, and harrowing are done with comparative indifference, at any rate without heroic passion; but when a man puts on the white grain-bag, rolls it around his left arm, fills it with seed, the hope of the coming year, that man exercises a sort of sacred ministry. He says nothing, looks straight before him, measures the furrow, and, with a movement cadenced like the rhythm of a mysterious song, throws the grain, which falls to the earth and will soon be covered by the harrow. The rhythmic walk of the sower and his action are superb. The importance of the deed is real, and he feels his responsibility. If he is a good laborer, he will know how much seed to throw with every fling of his hand, adjusting the amount sown to the nature of the soil.

-from Jean-Francois Millet, Peasant and Painter by Alfred Sensier

We learned that Van Gogh copied many great works by Millet.  Read about these fascinating copies here.

The Sower, 1889 - Van Gogh

Fred Yates' impromptu sketch of The Sower  - see The Millet Mystery

It's going to be a great term around here! 

For those who wish to continue reading on Millet, there is a nice lecture by Mr. Yates that can be found at the Charlotte Mason Digital Collection in the June, 1905 edition of L'Umile Pianta. If you simply search for "Millet" you will find it as well as another short article on Millet.

May all your goings be graces,


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fairy Rings

 "Where science does not teach a child to wonder and admire it has perhaps no educative value."      - Charlotte Mason, Vol. 6, p. 224

the fairy ring!

The outdoor columnist for our local paper, Ron Kuecker, wrote about his sighting of a fairy ring north of town in this week's paper.  Our wet summer and wet fall have produced conditions  perfect for the growth of this  fungal phenomena.  So of course we jumped in the car to try and find the fabled fairy ring!  The science behind fairy rings is fascinating and we had fun reading about that afterwards.  But the enchantment comes first for us.  Notice that she wouldn't go inside the ring. (!) Have you spotted any of these recently?  This is the largest  ring I have ever seen.

And these fairy rings are also one of those things whose scientific explanation is just as enchanting as the folklore surrounding it.  Here is an excerpt from The Book of Knowledge*:

The mushrooms' force of growth is so great that they often lift masses of earth and stones many times their own wight.  Sometimes you can see grass or moss still growing on top of a mushroom with the torn earth handing over the side of the mushroom's cap.  Among the most attractive mushroom growths are the famous fairy rings.  Some ancient peoples thought they resulted from the midnight dancing of fairies.  In a fairy ring a mass of fungal threads (the whole mass is called a mycelium) starts growing in a circle.  As it grows, the mycelium exhausts the soil in the circle, baring the sod, but sends up mushrooms on the circumference.  As the mushrooms decay, they enrich the soil so that dark lush grass grows inside the ring.  The ring of mushrooms enlarges year by year.  Almost perfect rings 160 feet in diameter have been observed.

close-up of a mushroom from the ring

You can read more about fairy rings here. Also, Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study has a section on them.  And do let me know if you have seen any lately.


*The Book of Knowledge is a vintage encyclopedia set worth owning.  Valerie has written a helpful description here.
fairy ring picture from The Book of Knowledge

Monday, September 8, 2014

Motto for Teachers

In thinking about humility, we have a former student of Mason's and  secretary of the PNEU, R.A. Pennethorne,  giving us her reflection on the posture for teachers.  It fits perfectly with the teachers' motto - "For the Children's Sake." Here's the full quote:

“Teaching was to be a mission carrying the breath of life to God’s children…-not looking for results or rewards or for the praise of man but praying for our children that they might increase even as we decrease.”  


P.S. - photo cred to Katie!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Why "Sage Parnassus" or What's in a Name?

painting by Kay Maniscalco (rather Barbara Cooney-esque, don't you think?)
Quite often I get the question, "Could you explain the meaning behind the name of your blog?"  The answer to that question is always towards the bottom of my "About" page, but I thought I would revisit it here on the blog. Sage Parnassus Academy is the name of our school.  We had to choose a name for some reason that I don't remember anymore.  When it came time to name this blog, that's naturally what came to mind.  Read on for the reasoning!

Why Sage Parnassus? We needed a name for our house and school, so the boys chose sage because strangers would knock on our door  and ask what color we had recently painted the house.  The shade of green was called sage.  They chose Parnassus because that was the name of Amy and Laurie's house and school in Jo's Boys which they were reading at the time.  A sweet memory, really, from two little boys who are now all grown up.

They put those two words together and we decided it sounded nice.  It worked for me because Parnassus on Wheels is a book I love (about a mobile bookseller) and Parnassus generally refers to the home of poetry, literature and learning due to the fact that Parnassus in Greek mythology was a mountain in Greece where the Muses resided.

Now you know!