Thursday, November 19, 2009

Unschooling Co-op Outing

November and October switched places. It rained and was freezing cold all through October, which was good because we were sick for most of it, so we didn't miss much outdoor time. Now that we're better, the weather is nice. I keep hearing "Indian Summer" here and there, but I don't think it applies because it got so cold and yucky in October and September was maybe mild, but certainly not hot. And besides, I'm pretty sure "Indian Summer" offends me anyway.

Due to the still warm-enough weather, we've been able to do all this nice fall hiking lately. So for our Unschooling Co-op day, I arranged that we'd head out to Squires Castle to check it out, walk in the woods, and drink some hot cocoa. Squire's Castle is what used to be a country estate for a Standard Oil executive. Eventually, his wife died, he built another house in Millionaire's Row in Wickliffe (one of the several varying Millionaire's Rows in Cleveland during the Kerosene Age which moved progressively further from the industrial heart so as to avoid the toxins seeping out from the refineries) and the castle was closed up. One of the area metroparks bought the estate after a time, stripped the interior of the castle, but left the shell so people could go...visit it, I guess. There are three fireplaces remaining and from what I can tell, it's perfectly okay to start fires in them and have yourself a little wiener roast.

The grounds are lovely and there's a hilly forest all around, which is beautiful. The boys and I had never been, so it was high time.From the rear.

Interior shot.

The kids spent some time hanging in the windows.

Then we copped a squat on Donna's recycled wool sweater throw (I need to make one of those, fyi), and enjoyed too "spicy" (according to Bastian) hummus, pretzels, and hot chocolate.
Aleks reminds me of a chocolate joker here.
The kids went on a little walk themselves, then we all went up the hill and into the forest. It was much lovelier, really, than shaker lakes, being not in the middle of a neighborhood where you can hear (and sometimes see) cars driving by on the road. There were steep hills, which the boys dubbed "mountains" and wide, well-kept paths, covered in crunching leaves. Not much in the way of wildlife, but Aleks found some hornet nest pieces for our nature tray.

After hearing a recent tale of accidentally hatching hornets indoors, we were careful to make sure there were no closed cells with hidden life teaming behind the fragile closures.

Exploded tree.
Twisty tree. Reminded me of the growing tree in My Neighbor Totoro. Without its bark, you can see how it grew, in great spirals...

On the drive home, after picking up crickets for Esteban and accidentally squishing Bastian's fingers in the car window (requiring that I pull into a funeral home parking lot), there was a massive sun at sunset, bathing us in an intense orange glow.
Then we stopped into the library to discover that our four canned goods weren't quite enough to wipe all our fines and that I'd read the deadline of the program wrong, thankfully. We also picked up another television program about giant squid (series, actually, about "real" monsters of all sorts) and a couple of books on CD for in the car since Aleks does not appreciate always being forced to listen to the news. Sigh. Then home for minestrone soup!


Mel said...

Why can't we have fun unschooling groups here *whine* instead of churchy ones with lots of women who look at me disapprovingly? :)

I see you share my obsession with root systems and fungi...we have an impressive photographic collection of such....

That is so cool to have a gutted castle to play in....

We have a bit of hornets nest on our nature tray too!! I hadn't heard of hatching them though...eek...better go read that..

lovely day..

Anonymous said...

We LOVE Squire's's a five minute drive from our house, and always winds up being our go-to for last minute trips/hikes.

anna kiss said...

Mel - I had to start the group and I have to email every week to remind people to participate. Mostly it's us and Donna's family (who posts here regularly). We've had a few different families participate regularly for awhile and then evaporate. It goes in cycles. I'm sure they'll be back. Sometimes it's just a matter of a holiday plus illness cycling through a family of 7.

Lillian said...

ah man what a nice day that looks like!

sunnymama said...

Looks like you had a great day out! Love the pictures of them spending time hanging in the windows. :)

Erin said...

The castle, the photos.. LOVE it ALL!