Camp Frémont

Gardening, Photography, and Homeschool.

- by Sarah Fremont

  • Sarah Fremont

Mornings at home are for “school,” but after that, it is outside time. The fairies are usually the first destination. It seems to be a good transition space from indoors to outdoors. Often, before fairies, I would send the children outside only to see them at the window a few minutes later, as if they suddenly felt a bit lost and needed to return inside to the familiar. Now, the fairies help them adjust to the outside world - a lovely place where nature meets creativity and inspiration. And by the time they are done with their fairy work, they are inspired to move on to other outdoor adventures.

Fairyland is a small little corner of the yard, unseen from the house. Their camp is outside of my influence, it never needs to be cleaned up, and they are free to use whatever bits and bobs they find. As E. Nesbit says, “If you play near windows, someone inside generally knocks at them and says, ‘Don’t.’” Sometimes they work within a flower pot, in the dirt, or on a dead tree stump. Their use of “loose parts” really connects with my daughter who is my three-dimensional artist. Here she finds an excellent avenue to express her creativity with the recycling bits she retrieves from the bin. Bottle caps, corks, buttons, cardboard, plastic containers, string, etc. all find a way to be utilized here. Additionally, found bits of nature are incorporated in magical ways: rocks for boundary lines, tepees made of sticks, flags from leaves and acorn pottery to name a few.

After a little world is created many things happen . . . They love to give detailed tours sharing their creation. Often they will sit and admire their world . . . . Many times they will sketch the area, and of course, they play. One of their favorite ways to play is “trading.” They barter for other bits and offer nature exchanges. This has developed advanced skills for negotiating, collaborating, and learning how to cope with disappointments. It also teaches a robust sense of value, and an active understanding that what one person values another might not . . . which is a surprisingly difficult idea. All this occurs without adult supervision to “help” them learn these skills.

If a storm blows through we rarely shelter anything. There is an ephemeral nature to their art. They are not making permanent installations - it is dynamic! The next morning is a fun treasure hunt to see how far things have traveled, what has been lost, and if anything has been destroyed. This only becomes an opportunity to rebuild, create new things and perhaps to set up camp in a new location.

There is an added element of magic that has found its way to fairyland. Every so often a fairy may mysteriously move in the night, fairy bits may be hidden or captured with clues left to their whereabouts, and the most enjoyable discovery is new treasures placed nearby to be found in the morning. One never knows when this may occur, so its unpredictability is always an exciting discovery.

Fairyland has become a sweet rhythm to our day . . . a way for them to play in nature, to work out inspirations from literature and to use their minds to create imaginative new worlds.

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  • Sarah Fremont

Plant propagation: The process of growing a new plant from a mother plant by seeds, cuttings, or other plant parts.

It was a few days before Christmas when we heard a knock at our door—our sweet neighbors bearing gifts and Christmas greetings! They presented us with three small vintage glass jars wrapped with ribbons, each containing a cutting of a Pothos plant. “Place the jars out of direct sunlight, change the water every once in a while, and the plant will survive for a long time,” our neighbors explained. We followed their directions and enjoyed the ease of caring for the plants and observing the growth of the roots submerged in water. Since that day we have gifted many lovely glass jars with our own cuttings.

Water propagation is by far the simplest way to grow new plants. All you have to do is snip a cutting from your plant and place it in water! The fun of watching the continual development of roots is an added bonus. There are a number of plants that grow well in water after propagating, including: African Violet, Bloodleaf, Chinese Evergreen, Coleus, Corn Plant, Glacier Ivy, Pothos, and Umbrella Sedge. (We’ve found that propagating Pothos is the easiest, so let’s start there!)

Here are a few simple instructions for propagating the Pothos in water:

  1. Choose a vine (runner) extending from your “parent” Pothos plant.

  2. Cut the vine so that each piece you will be propagating contains a node and a leaf (see photo). The node is where new growth will occur.

  3. Place the leaf with node in water. Roots need air as much as water, so you will need to replace the water every few days. (The water from your tap has oxygen in it. As it sits, the oxygen evaporates and the water becomes stale.)

  4. Place the jars on a counter where the temperature of the air is above 68 degrees.

  5. Plants will survive for a good while in water, but you can eventually pot them in soil.

Place your leaf cutting in a beautiful jar wrapped with Christmas ribbon and you have yourself a lovely homemade gift!

Happy propagating! xo

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Updated: Aug 3

Years ago I heard a story from our pastor, Dr. Timothy Keller, that completely astonished me. When his wife Kathy was 12 years old, she wrote to C.S. Lewis . . . And he wrote her back.

11th November 1963

Dear Kathy,

Thanks for your note of the 5th, and I hope you will enjoy the Screwtape Letters which has been the most popular of all my books.

I sympathize with your “maddening experience”, but I can assure you that this is one of the occupational risks of authorship; the same sort of thing has happened to me more than once. There is nothing to be done about it!

With all best wishes,

yours sincerely,

C.S. Lewis

They continued to write back and forth four times. The last letter she received from him was 11 days before he died. The part that most astonished me was not that he wrote her back, but that she had thought to write him in the first place. His writings had so moved her that she wanted to form a connection with the writer.

If I had been alive during the time his Narnia books were first published, would I have written to him? It’s doubtful. Most likely fear, self-doubt, and laziness would have contributed to me missing out on a remarkable opportunity. This got me thinking . . . Who are the present-day authors or illustrators inspiring us? Who could we write to encourage and praise, so we do not miss out on an opportunity to make a connection?

Our primary objective in writing to our favorites was not only to get a response - even though that would be a hopeful outcome - we also wrote to praise and to encourage them, to tell them how much we loved their work, and what it meant to us personally. A few times we asked thoughtful questions about the writing and illustrating process to seek help with our own writing and illustrating. We also chose our favorite authors and illustrators that were lesser known, thinking we may have a better opportunity to connect with someone that may not already be inundated with letters.

We have been on this journey for six years, writing letters to authors and illustrators, many of whom have written us back. In fact, my oldest daughter has her very own “C.S. Lewis pen pal”. Such a delightful outcome. They have exchanged lovely ideas about the writing and illustrating process. Though sharing ideas with her pen pal has helped my daughter with her own efforts, the best outcome has been the personal connection she has been able to make with one of her favorite authors.

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