The Lofty Chronicles: 8

This continues an ongoing series of posts about a young girl growing up
and pursuing child-led learning at Light Morning. The series begins here

with an introduction. Links to the other posts in the series are here.

A few notes about the following journal entries: Lauren has asked everyone to call her Lofty. In my journal I sometimes use one name and sometimes the other, and she herself sometimes goes back and forth between the two. / We’re a common table community, meaning that we take all our meals together in the community shelter. / We’re also off-grid, so we heat and cook with wood and use kerosene lamps for light.

Tracing Gender Lines

Continue reading The Lofty Chronicles: 8

The Lofty Chronicles: 7

This continues an ongoing series of posts about a young girl growing up
and pursuing child-led learning at Light Morning. The series begins here

with an introduction. Links to the other posts in the series are here.

One of Lofty’s drawings

The Old Paths

Bedtime Stories (Friday, 7 February 1992) Last April (here) I listed the books that Joyce, Lauren, and I had been reading aloud as bedtime stories. Here’s what we’ve read together since then.

Gifts of Unknown Things, Watson
Star Wars, Lucas
The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas et al
The Return of the Jedi, ibid
A Wizard of Earthsea, LeGuinn
The Tombs of Atuan, ibid
The Farthest Shore, ibid
Treasure Island, Stevenson
The Adventures of Robin Hood
Afternoon of the Elves, Lisle
George Washington Carver, Holt
Carver’s George, Means
Oversoul Seven and the Museum of Time, Roberts
A Swiftly Tilting Planet, L’Engle

Continue reading The Lofty Chronicles: 7

The Lofty Chronicles: 6

This continues an ongoing series of posts about a young girl growing up
and pursuing child-led learning at Light Morning. The series begins here

with an introduction. Links to the other posts in the series are here.

On Loan From the Universe

Our neighbors Doris and Harry

A New Kind of Family (Thursday, 5 December 1991) A passing impression this evening of life in the emerging Light Morning form of family. After supper, Joyce went to a village meeting at the Institute for Sustainable Living and Marlene went to a weekly gathering at our neighbors Harry and Doris. The rest of us are sitting around our off-grid community shelter which is lit by kerosene lamps.

Adam’s in the kitchen reading the current issue of Harrowsmith. Ron’s by the wood-stove studying a book about dreams. I’m on the couch with an old issue of Whole Earth Review. Lauren is sitting on Tom’s lap in the rocking chair, listening to stories about his youth, for which she seems to have an insatiable appetite and which Tom loves to share. Everything’s warm and cozy and family.

Continue reading The Lofty Chronicles: 6

The Lofty Chronicles: 5

This continues an ongoing series of posts about a young girl growing up
and pursuing child-led learning at Light Morning. The series begins here

with an introduction. Links to the other posts in the series are here.

The Irony of Pinocchio

Sage and Lauren with marigolds

You Can’t Just Say No (Monday, 2 September 1991) Our new grain grinder has just arrived. It’s an expensive machine whose large flywheel should make it much easier for us to convert wheat berries into whole wheat flour. Even seven-year-old Lauren can crank the handle with no trouble. She’s thrilled to finally be able to grind flour with the rest of us.

Unfortunately, the output is far below both our expectations and the claims of the manufacturer. After seeing how little flour it seems to produce, we use a timer and a measuring cup to run some trials between our older, harder to crank machine and the new one. The results clearly show that the new grinder will have to be returned.

Our daughter, however, has not been included in this decision-making process. Lauren’s eyes fill with tears when she learns that we’re going to ship back the beautiful new machine she’s been using to help make flour. All our reasons and statistics are meaningless to her. We who value making communal decisions by consensus have acted as though consensus is for adults only, thereby disenfranchising the littlest member of our community. We have, in effect, become a bunch of neighborhood bullies.

Continue reading The Lofty Chronicles: 5

The Lofty Chronicles: 4

This continues an ongoing series of posts about a young girl growing up
and pursuing child-led learning at Light Morning. The series begins here.

Gifts and Abilities

Lauren, Claire, Myra

A Small Space (Friday, 12 July 1991) It’s close to suppertime and we’re nearing the end of a long day. As we pick up the community shelter’s living room, Lauren’s in a rambunctious mood. Joyce finally says, “This is too small a space for hopscotch or for jump-rope…”

“Or for sermons!” Lauren adds, deftly finishing Joyce’s sentence for her.

We all laugh. Even Joyce has the grace to grin.

Continue reading The Lofty Chronicles: 4

The Lofty Chronicles: 3

This continues an ongoing series of posts about a young girl growing up
and pursuing child-led learning at Light Morning. The series begins here.

Lofty Brown

Lauren at the treadle sewing machine

Lauren’s Stories (Monday, 1 April 1991) It occurs to me to list the books we’ve been reading aloud in the evenings before bedtime over the past several years. Joyce and I have enjoyed this ritual for most of our married life, but the following books are the ones we’ve shared with Lauren since she first started paying attention to the stories when she was three. Now she’s about to turn seven.

Humans have an innate need for stories. Radio and television meet much of this need currently. But since Joyce and I have never had a TV, we resorted to the intermediate technology of books. Prior to literacy was the long and arguably richer oral tradition of storytelling.

Continue reading The Lofty Chronicles: 3

The Lofty Chronicles: 2

This continues an ongoing series of posts about a young girl growing up
and pursuing child-led learning at Light Morning. The series begins here.

Just For the Joy of It

The Light Morning family. Harvest time 1990.

What If I Were the Only Adult? (Saturday, 10 November 1990) Sometimes I get haunting glimpses of what it must be like to walk through the Light Morning lifestyle in Lauren’s shoes. It’s clearly a magical place to grow up, but Lauren is the only child here. What if I were the lone adult living with five or six children? What if it were their interests, needs,and priorities that mostly dictated what I could or couldn’t do, and when I could occasionally go to visit other adults?

It’s a humbling empathy that permits a parental oppressor, however well-intentioned, to perceive the world-view of the oppressed.

Continue reading The Lofty Chronicles: 2

The Lofty Chronicles: 1

Saying Goodbye to Early Childhood

The Lofty Chronicles grew out of a daily journal that I kept for several years during the early 1990’s. Many of its entries were about our daughter, Lauren. She turned six in 1990 and soon asked us to call her Lofty. Since she was the first grandchild on either side of the family, her geographically distant grandparents, aunts, and uncles were especially eager to hear what she was up to. So I volunteered to send them selected passages from my journal each season. I also sensed that a grownup Lauren may one day become curious about her roots.

The reason for posting those long ago journal entries here on Light Morning’s website is that peeking through the day-to-day concerns, wonders, and routines of parenting is a startlingly intimate view of the three core values of this community: living close to the Earth, in a new kind of family, and with a shared transformational journey. These foundational values have already been explored here. In The Lofty Chronicles, however, they come to life in a viscerally specific way.

We see adults trying to live simply, work closer to home, and become more self-sufficient. We watch a mostly self-chosen family of friends and traveling companions work and eat and play together, hurt each other, solve thorny problems, and slowly learn to truly care for one another. We catch surprising glimpses of what it means to “become again as a little child.” And we see that a path of transformation can be both long and arduous. There’s nothing quite like parenting for showing us our shadows and humbling our pretensions. It’s fully as good a teacher as marriage and community.

Now it’s time to let the stories speak for themselves. The Lofty Chronicles will be an ongoing series of posts, making way now and then for posts on other themes. After first setting the stage with a few journal entries from Lauren’s younger years, we’ll take up the story proper in May of 1989, shortly after her fifth birthday.

Continue reading The Lofty Chronicles: 1

Differing Perspectives on East and West

I awoke this morning with a quickly dissipating cluster of dreams. By the time I had finished dressing and was kindling a pre-dawn fire in Julia, our airtight wood-burning cook-stove, the dreams had mostly retreated to the refugium of my subliminal mind. Their evanescence caused me to recall the opening lines of last week’s post about Tom Hungerford, who lived at Light Morning for many years.

“Quite soon Tom will become one of the unremembered multitudes — a wave receding down a beach; a raindrop touching the surface of a lake; an autumn leaf falling from a family tree.”

In the same way that I have been moved to save (however briefly) some stories about Tom and Douglas and Marlene from imminent oblivion, so have a few of my strong medicine dreams found their way onto the pages of this blog. Navigational aids to the slowly growing collection can be found here.

What follows is one of my shorter strong medicine dreams. As with the others in this series, however, its shelf-life or half-life has been long. Hopefully some of you, too, may find that its medicinal qualities are still active.

Continue reading Differing Perspectives on East and West