I'm an easy sell. I came across a few words that captured my curiosity. Add a mention of tea? I'm there. Whether the cup is in front of me, or a feature in a story--I'll figure out how to fit in an 800-page book.
Show me a poem? Pour me a cup and save me a seat. Suddenly my online shopping basket has five (or more) poetry books. Birds. Memorization. Robert Frost (a favorite!). And more. Thankful for Abe Books, and their easy-to-find, $3-books-and-free-shipping deals. Otherwise, I'd be broke.
I ordered a tablecloth in floral and blues. I can imagine it already, set up for a springtime tea in the front nook. (This house was built in 1971, and I wonder, what did the owner envision for that front nook? He may have never imagined his den would become a [delightful, music filled, coziest] classroom, and that nook would be a host to monthly poetry teas!)
A podcast recommendation of her long-favorite tea, and I have it in an Amazon basket for a someday purchase. I listened as Julie Bogart read from various selections, sipping at her tea and sampling a scone. She has been a true inspiration on restoring our homeschool. Making learning fun again. Tea times in our home--something anticipated. She read one poem, "Otherwise." And maybe her eyes teared up, it was hard to tell because she wears glasses, but she brought that poem home when she made the comparison to homeschooling. Once full tables, now otherwise emptied as children grow up and move on. And, yeah, she got to me.
I mentioned recently to my sister that Lanie would be in high school next year. Four more years. Are there things I would have done differently in this homeschool journey? Yes. And mainly this: I would have read aloud to her more often and longer. She was such an independent girl, devouring books (and still does) in the quiet of her room. When she was really little, we'd check out 20 or more books a week from the library. I got a big, sturdy tote from LL Bean to hold the load, and we still use it today. But by first grade, she read to herself, and I let her.
It's very different with Erin. Even now in fourth grade, I read aloud to her, and she snuggles close. She pulls a blanket over us. And if I get through a page without interruption, it's unusual. But that's what I love about reading with her. She asks a lot of questions, and that's where lots of learning takes place. She follows along and makes corrections if I skip a word. She laughs out loud. She tears up. She makes connections. This year at home has been exactly what she/we needed.
(The other day, we read from a YWAM book of Christian heroes, Corrie ten Boom, and I got to the part where Corrie calls out to her father, and he calls back to his daughters for a last time, and I paused and pushed down the tears. But it wasn't lost on Erin, whose heart is sensitive, those words of goodbye got to her too and she cried about her granddad, missed deeply.)
Already into next year's planning, and lots on ancients since both girls are starting the history cycle over. I found a deal on some mythology books. I look at my bookshelves. All the books we've read. All the books we'll read. A next-year selection piled on the floor. The books in the basket on birds and butterflies, on trees and weeds, and all the poetry books (and, good grief, more on the way--hooray!). So much to see from my seat at the table.
One day, we'll close a cover and look into each other's eyes and wrap up a final school year, a last book. One day, The Saturdays and My Side of the Mountain and A Christmas Carol will sit on a shelf, more than stories, keepers of fingerprints upon the pages, keepers of many memories--laughs, tears, time together.
I am too aware of the quiet that awaits these rooms, the stillness of this yard. And all the books upon the shelves, staring back at me. A treasury.
Sometimes my girls tell me they'll live nearby and close enough that their kids will be able to walk through yards to my house--for cookies and tea and read alouds. It is the sweetest vision and a sweeter dream that this house will be a hospitality house.
This week, savoring. A fire in the fireplace. Pumpkin muffins for a welcoming scent. And just because, a teapot of tea and some little snacks for a Monday middle school literature discussion.
I am so truly grateful for what this school year has done in our home.