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Showing posts from October, 2017

Unschooling: When Is An Outdoor Education Not An Education?

When I was a senior in high school, I took an aptitude test that indicated the occupation for which I was best suited was... forest ranger. I laughed and laughed. Forest ranger! What a ridiculous idea! Well, as you have probably gathered, time has proven that idea to be far less ridiculous than I thought. For better or worse, our educational infrastructure is designed to target very specific skills and promote very mainstream career options, often to the detriment of creativity and unorthodox choices. I see this in my day job as an economic developer for a rural community; manufacturing careers have been devalued to the point where we need special programs to explain to middle school students that there are good career opportunities in advanced manufacturing. I'm not saying that had my high school's curriculum been a but different, I would have embraced rather than scoffed at a job with the forest service. I'm not sure that, ultimately, I would have lived happily ever aft

Don't Stow Your Kayak Just Yet

Kayak angling offers many advantages over traditional motor boat fishing, not the least of which is the relative ease of seasonal storage compared to a boat. With a kayak there are no fuel tanks to be drained or lines to be cleared; no engines to be winterized. As we work our way through October and head toward November, even in these warmer climes, a lot of motor boat owners start thinking about storing for the winter, and even paddlers often see the shorter days as good reason to stow their kayaks until spring and begin thinking more about deer and duck. Because I am not a hunter and my fall days are not consumed with thoughts of blinds and stands, I tend to bleed every last drop out of the fishing season. And the truth is, I actually like these cooler days on the water after the hordes of recreational boaters that clog the waterways May though September have largely evaporated and it is possible to spend an entire Saturday morning paddling and fishing without encountering even one

Book Review: The Jesus Cow by Michael Perry

Until The Jesus Cow , author Michael Perry was known primarily for non-fiction writing which detailed the lives of rural Wisconsinites, so I was very interested to see how he would tackle a work of fiction that dealt with made-up versions of those same people. Whether though fiction or non-fiction, Perry is at his heart a storyteller, and he excels at crafting interesting characters and placing them in interesting situations. As you might expect from a novel called The Jesus Cow , there is a bit of an absurdist tone to much of the book, but it is balanced with serious reflections on faith materialism, loneliness and the vagaries of adult romance. The plot involves a farmer, Harley Jackson, who births a Holstein calf on Christmas Eve. The calf bears a spot on its flank that looks like the face of Jesus. Concerned about the unwanted attention the calf might bring to his life, he initially tries to hide it, but eventually gives in to temptation and exploits the calf for financial gain

Time for Ol' Slim in the Garden

It's odd, I suppose, that I wait until autumn each year to set my scarecrow out, since it's purpose is ostensibly to protect the garden from birds and small animals that might eat the seeds or disturb the crop. During the growing season, I use a variety of modern techniques to keep the critters away from my plants, everything from organic sprays to ultrasonic repellers to traps, but when the days get short and the evenings get cool, I like to bring out Ol' Slim. Scarecrows of Slim's sort have been keeping the crows away for centuries, and have had a spooky presence in literature for nearly as long. A Japanese book written in the 700's tells the story of an all-knowing scarecrow deity, Kuebiko. Closer to home, Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1852 story "Feathertop" is about a witch who casts a spell on a scarecrow, bringing him to life in order to woo the young daughter of a rival. And, of course, a scarecrow plays a major role in L. Frank Baum's tale The