Friday, February 23, 2018

Plant Science 101

{Alternate post title: Just One of the Reasons We Homeschool} 

On Fridays, Duncan has the privilege of a private class with a retired Cornell University professor. To Duncan, he’s Opa—his grandfather, my Dad. Opa pokes at the soil with his cane, shows Duncan how to use a grafting knife, poses questions and possible scenarios, scribbles homework questions in his nearly illegible script.

Duncan is learning more from my father than definitions and cycles and tools of the trade. He isn't required to regurgitate for a single test and then dump what he's memorized to make room for the next chapter. He’s learning the magic of plants, the ancient art of growing things, the gift of his heritage.


In his book Apples, author Frank Browning writes that my father “spent his life recasting the shape, character, and genetic health of apple trees.” He has done that, true. But better than that? My father has spent his life recasting the shape, character, and health of his children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. And that is a life spent well and spent generously.

I am grateful, so overwhelmed with surging gratitude, that we have taken this path that allows this relationship between the generations to be fostered and nurtured. If he forgets all he learned about photosynthesis and erosion, so be it. What he will remember, what he will rest upon as he walks into his adult life, is his grandfather's gentle voice under a blue, blue sky. And that's reason enough to homeschool.

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