Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Garden School

School was held at the Gardens yesterday. William is studying bamboo. Max and Alex are studying New World Cacti. Maria is studying walking, and talking. We all enjoyed some fresh air, which was especially nice after two days wiped out with stomach flu. The flu was mean and merciless, but it's gone now, so let's just talk about the beautiful day in the gardens.

We had our lunch by the pond, where we found only one frog. I think it's been too cold for much frog activity. There were a lot of mosquito fish and one big koi. The pond is a very little pond, and if you are reading this from Wisconsin or up north, don't think "pond." Think: "man-made concrete pool, with pump." But we love the Gardens. We love the regions with their varieties of trees and flowers, perennials and vines. We love the winding paths, the waterfalls, the pools, the overlook, the gazebo. We love the walled garden with the ceramic tiles on the adobe walls, the old fountain, the cool scent of moss growing under the shaded benches. So after lunch we hiked around and the boys photographed the bamboo and cactus, and lizards. Maria pointed to the tops of the bamboo, and to the gnarled, bumpy limbs of the cork oak, she followed the darting path of the blue scrub jay.

We all followed a new path to a children's garden. In this garden the children found mechanical bliss: a hand pump. You've seen them in old westerns. The red pump by the water trough and it fills the trough with water for the horses and warshin' and drinkin' and bathin'.

We must have stayed there for an hour, or for however long it takes three boys to cooperatively figure out that the pump needs to be primed and the handle has to be held up while it's filled with water.

They needed to learn that without a renewable source of water they would have to return trough water out to where a well or spring ought to be, so it could be pumped back up. It took some time, but they had all the time they needed, and they had patience too.
They filled the troughs several times, working together and enjoying their success.

Maria helped too. She knew there was something good about moving the water and she moved her net back and forth eagerly.