As part of my son’s school curriculum, the entire 4/5th grade classes (about 40 kids) went to farm school this past week in rural northern California, a place where you’re more likely to encounter a cow, sheep, or bobcat on the road than a vehicle. Hawks and turkey vultures circled overhead while hummingbirds buzzed about the honeysuckle and, occasionally, our heads.
The place is called Oceansong, a wildlife preserve covering more than 350 acres on a ridge overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Kids, teachers, and parents camped, and when we left, we left no trace.
As part of the experience, the kids and adults went on a night hike, ending in a walk by themselves or with a friend in the dark without a flashlight. They were challenged to find their way back to the campsite without talking while their parents and teachers watched and provided emotional support from a hillside.
It’s a right of passage, a way of giving kids confidence in their ability to face the unknown despite their fears. Our son chose to walk alone down a path past a pond filled with chirping frogs. Adults went last, alone or in pairs, to gain a sense of their child’s experience.
I highly recommend this if you’ve never done it.
At the end of the week, midst the bustle of farm school clean-up, I realized that I had not yet heard if I’d been accepted for the 2014 Squaw Valley Writers Workshop. The deadline for response was May 10. Last year, I’d received my acceptance a couple of days before the deadline, so when I checked my email yesterday morning and there was still no note from Squaw, I started chewing my fingernails.
Not that I was looking forward to a delicious week of nothing but writing and writers, oh, and a little of that famous Tahoe scenery, too, I guess. Not that I was craving some alone time, some away-from-the-family time to listen to nothing but my thoughts. Today is Mother’s Day, after all, and shouldn’t I be feeling motherly?
Well, I can be motherly for only so long before I turn into mom-zilla.
As a writer, I should be impervious to that familiar fear, the one that insists I am not good enough to be chosen. “Pick me! Pick me!” cries my inner child.
Well, I did get a note from Squaw yesterday at 3pm, saying that I was on the waiting list. Woohoo!
Now, like my son who’s counting the days until summer break from school, I’ve got three weeks before I know if I’ve made it off the list and into the sweet spot.
But if I’ve learned anything this past week, it’s that walking by myself through the dark is a solitary but not lonely experience. I’ve got a community who’s got my back should I feel overcome by self-doubt.
You guys are out there, right? Hello? Helloooooooooooooo? Did someone move the campsite?