Gazing at the IMMENSE hole of a buffalo jump in Beulah, Wyoming (as described in the previous post), I suddenly saw a relationship between making it easy to process buffalo for winter and making it easy for kids to learn.
To explain, let me start with a few questions:
Do you remember when you were in school?
Were you sometimes bored?
Were you uninterested in what had to be memorized?
Did it seem that school work was disconnected from "real life"?
Would you ask your teacher, "Why do I have to do this?"
If so, you are not alone.
For me, school often felt like being sentenced to twelve years—with no chance of parole! Occasionally, there would be a flash of interest, an insightful teacher, a momentary experience of discovery, but that was certainly not the norm. Mostly, we were shuffled from one class to another, regardless of interest, until graduation.
You may be one of the lucky few who do not relate to this, but thousands upon thousands of homeschooling parents have agreed in workshops that this was their experience.
When we try to teach our own children at home, these school-days experiences can come back to haunt us. Here sit our precious offspring, yawning, their eyes glazed over, and asking, "Mommy, do we HAVE to do this?" Ouch! We understand exactly what they mean, but we don't know how to make their experience different from ours.
Buffalo Jumps in Learning
In contrast to the yawning, glazed-eye student, have your children ever been totally self-motivated to learn about something? Whether baseball, dead bugs, piano, or how to make fried ice cream, they were eager, rarin' to go, and couldn't wait to know!
That, my friends, is a Buffalo Jump. Your student's natural hunger to discover and learn is one of the most powerful forces that you will ever find! The trick is to recognize it when it is happening (or to offer opportunities for it to happen), and then allow the full "weight" of their curiosity to propel them deep into whatever they are learning.
Here's an example:
Twenty-two years ago, after we had moved from the West Coast to South Dakota, my nine-year old son asked me, "Mom, why do steel ships float?"
Nowadays, this would be a no-brainer. An iPhone, a quick Google search, and an answer. But not in 1992.
With out a single steel ship in sight, I was sunk.
But then, I did what homeschoolers used to do all the time. "I don't know the answer to your great question, Michael, but I know where we can go to find out!"
And, with great expectations, we sailed off to the library. When the librarian was asked, "Excuse me, do you know why steel ships float?", she looked around in dismay. Evidently, that question was not real common in South Dakota.
"Hmmm… Try this book." It was a college level book on boat building, and way beyond me. I slunk out of the library, kids in tow, still clueless.
Never one to give up, my son kept asking the question: "Why do steel ships float?"
We looked through other books at home. We looked high, we looked low. We looked through every book we thought might have the answer. Still clueless.
It got so we were asking everyone we met, "Excuse me, but do you know why…?"
After two weeks of searching, late one night I remembered a box of books in the closet. "Mmmm. I wonder…" I sprang from the bed to the box, found a book on how things work by Reader's Digest, and quickly turned to the index. Incredibly, I saw this listing, "Why steel ships float". EUREKA! Our answer was at hand.
As the whole family learned about the principle of buoyancy, about surface tension, and about the ancient scientist/mathematician/inventor Archimedes, we thought up several creative ideas for experiments with lead fishing weights. We pounded and dropped and observed and recorded. By the time it was done, Michael's curiosity about why steel ships float had motivated the whole family to jump into exploring with him, learning things beyond our ken and certainly beyond our lesson book!
Many, many dinner table discussions have resulted in perusing encyclopedias, requesting library books, searching internet listings, and questioning experts. Questions have come up during mathematics that were totally off the point but worth pursuing nonetheless. Ideas have been generated during car rides that require lots of thinking and discussing. There have been on-the-spot opportunities to learn while having an x-ray (How can you tell if my finger is broken?); while eating at a Chinese restaurant (What was your home like in China?); while visiting a cattle ranch (Where did those brands come from?).
These moments, when someone wonders, "why?" or, "when?" or, "how?" or, "who?" or, "what if," are the Buffalo Jumps. They present the perfect opportunities to use the tremendous force of natural curiosity to propel a student into interesting, meaningful learning.
Just as the buffalo jumps were used as an effective, efficient means of procuring meat for the tribe, so are the buffalo jumps of learning a very effective, efficient means of getting knowledge into a child. Rather than the few inches of refuse found in normal archaeological sites, the buffalo jump in Wyoming provided archaeologists with more than twenty feet of "stuff"! In the same way, learning that is motivated by a hunger to know—where the student rushes headlong into it—is far more productive; it leaves far more evidence of knowledge acquired than the normal method of "read the chapter and answer the questions in the back."
"Okay, okay. But will our children, on their own, EVER fall into one of these educational buffalo jumps?"
Good question! The buffalo, ambling along on their own, wouldn't have just fallen in. The Plains tribes skillfully used their knowledge. They knew where the buffalo were and the location of the jump. All they needed was to move the herd in that general direction, and at the appropriate moment, "motivate" them! The natural law of gravity took care of the rest.
So, in buffalo jumps of learning, the parent is the one who knows where their students are in skill level, in experience, and in ability. A parent, spying out the land, will also be aware of what sorts of things really interest their children, whether it has to do with inventions, or biographies, or sports, or crafts, or hands-on experiments, or drama, or whatever it might be. What the parent can do is to begin moving the students toward a possible area of interest, and, at the appropriate moment, motivate some excitement into that area (in other words, activate their natural curiosity.)
Here are some suggestions:
find a fantastic book in the library and read a few chapters out loud (like Carry On, Mr. Bowditch);
watch a YouTube video which shows how cathedrals were built in the Middle Ages (like "Cathedral" by David Macaulay);
take a field trip to see a sculptor sculpting;
visit a veteran who fought in a war;
go to a symphony performance of Peter and the Wolf;
and much, much more.
These motivating moments, that you help provide, will get those children stampeding right smack into real learning! Then all you have to do is stand by, ready to assist.
That, dear friends, is learning like a buffalo!
Remember, stay relational.
Many years ago, while living in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Bill and I decided one afternoon that it was time to take time. Bidding our teens a fond adieu, we headed off to parts unknown for the evening. Remembering the injunction, "Go West, Young Man, Go West!", we turned toward Wyoming, which teems with wildlife and scenery in nearly every nook and cranny.
We took the scenic route from Spearfish, South Dakota to Beulah, Wyoming (just across the border), and continued along the deserted blacktop. The weather that summer evening was very unusual for the high plains. Rather than hot, sunny, and nary a cloud in the sky (think "Home on the Range"), it was cool, misty and laden with atmosphere. It had a wonderful ambience, a sort of mist-hung backdrop for our moment of solitude.
Bill was looking for a certain site he had noticed from previous journeys down the freeway. A sign had indicated there was a "buffalo jump"—something used for several centuries by Native American tribes—which seemed like a good place to visit. We found a small marker on the side of the road which indicated we had arrived, though there was certainly nothing yet to see.
I guess that's the deal with buffalo jumps. One minute you're running along over the plains, and the next, you fall—plop—into the hole. If it were obvious, the buffalo would have noticed.
Signs warned that we were to approach at our own risk, that rattlesnakes were a hazard, and to stay on the dirt path. We saw pictures of archaeological digs previously completed at the site where twenty feet of buffalo bones had accumulated over the six hundred years of use. Though we could still see nothing unusual, the signs were promising bigger and better things to come.
We walked a dozen yards up the path (with my rattlesnake antennae well extended), and then, suddenly, the ground stopped. There was a HUGE hole in the ground, about one hundred feet deep and two hundred feet in diameter. This was a serious buffalo jump!
The utter immensity of this hole in the ground, and the unexpectedness of it on the continuous plains, provided an amazing opportunity for the Plains tribes. In preparation for their winter food supply, they would position men at the edges of the jump and bowmen around the inside of the hole. Then a group would turn a herd of buffalo toward the jump and, at the last minute, frighten them into stampeding. Once a buffalo was moving fast and in the right direction, gravity took over. Many of the buffalo died as a result of the fall. Others died from falling neighbors. And the few who didn't die naturally were helped along by arrows from the men on the sides of the hole.
The archaeological digs have shown that the people who used this jump were able to process a lot of meat in a very short time. It was both a successful and relatively easy procedure, since they used the immense hole in the ground—along with gravity—to help them.
Now, you may be asking, "Just what do a buffalo jump and homeschooling have in common?"
There's a GREAT answer to that question. And I'll share it with you next time.
To be continued. . .
In the spring of 2000, my family (Bill & I, plus our three teenagers) went to the FPEA convention in Orlando, Florida. FPEA has always been one of our favorites, but this time we were particularly excited as Bill Anderson, the author of Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder, was going to be at the convention promoting his newest book. I had not yet had the privilege of meeting Bill, but we had been working together on the Musical Memories project for several months via phone and email.
As we discovered him amongst opened boxes in his booth, I was delighted to finally meet the author with whom it been such a joy to work. With great enthusiasm, my kids and I asked, "Bill, do you want to come over to our hotel room for dinner one evening? We would love to have a chance to chat!" He seemed pleased with the invitation, but hesitantly asked for one provision: "Would it be all right if I brought a guest with me?"
There is ALWAYS room around the Waring table for an extra guest, so we enthusiastically said, "YES!"
I was curious, however.
"Who is your guest?"
Bill motioned to a lovely older woman, standing off to the side, and invited her to come into the midst of our jollity.
"This is Rosemary Trapp, the first child born to Captain and Maria von Trapp."
As it turned out, Bill's latest book was on the Von Trapp Family Singers, and, during his interviews, the adult children of this famous family took him to their hearts. When he had the opportunity to come to the FPEA convention, he invited Rosemary to come along. She actually did a workshop (I sat on the FRONT ROW!) and shared a bit of her life. She even invited us to join her in singing Edel Weiss!!
Thus is was that, one evening during the convention, Rosemary Trapp came to our room. We spent hours with Rosemary and Bill, talking, laughing, eating, swapping stories and even SINGING! She thought it was delightful that we sang together as a family—and that we had just returned from 7 months in New Zealand. Her family had also loved traveling in the Pacific region!!
I have to say that it was a magical night. And it remains one of the most amazing memories in my life.
In 2004, homeschoolers in Rotorua, New Zealand, joined us for an evening of dialogue about parents teaching children at home. It was a precious time, particularly poignant for me because it was being hosted by a Maori family. The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand, with a somewhat similar history to Native Americans in America or First Nations people in Canada, and to have many Maori families at this gathering was a significant indicator of how homeschooling was gaining acceptance—despite the cultural challenges —among the native people.
One of the questions posed to me during our Q & A was that of teaching writing—especially of the incredible frustration on the part of many younger students (which translated into incredible frustration for their parents!). As I was trying to gather my travel-weary wits, a Maori father began to share marvelous wisdom that I would like to share with you.
He spoke to us all about the many steps which must simultaneously be taken in order to write something:
• handwriting, or penmanship;
* sentence construction, or grammar;
• adequate and accurate use of vocabulary;
• concepts and ideas to be expressed;
• logical flow of ideas;
As adults, if there is something to write, we simply write it. We don't struggle over penmanship, spelling, sentence construction. or vocabulary. We spend most of our time on the concepts and logic. However, it's not the same at all for younger students who are just beginning the journey of communicating through the written word. For them, it's a massive, glacier-covered mountain with formidable ice-fields and no visible paths.
So, as parents with children who need to learn to write, what do we do?
This incredibly wise and thoughtful father suggested that we break down the steps for our children. Where is it that they are finding the insurmountable obstacle? Is it in penmanship? Spelling? Grammar? Vocabulary? Idea? Logic? At which point along the way are they being overwhelmed? If we can break down each of the steps, walking them through one by one, it will soon become evident where the difficulties lie, and we can gently provide help—coming alongside lovingly and kindly—until they have the needed skills for that point.
It's not a quick fix. It doesn't work if you are frustrated and angry. It will not happen if you are pressured by the goals set by someone else who does not know your child and their unique situation.
But, if you can patiently break down the task, helping them little by little to acquire the necessary dexterity for writing, they will eventually climb that mountain!
Have you ever wondered where speakers come from? I mean, how do THEY get to stand up and speak THEIR minds? What motivates someone to do what most consider the scariest activity on the planet—speaking to an audience?
Well, I can't answer for most speakers, but I can share a bit of the back story of what propelled me, as a young homeschool mom, onto the platform. . . and how that led me to write my first book, America (one of the Experience History Through Music books).
In 1988, after I had been struggling for about three years with homeschooling (my kids and I were ALL bored!!!), a good friend suggested that it might help if I could attend the state homeschool convention near Seattle. . .
In those days, the main way to learn more about homeschooling was to attend a convention—oh, how times have changed!!
The problem was I couldn't afford it. My husband was a public school band teacher, we were single income, and there simply wasn't anything extra in the budget. When I voiced that practical concern, my friend said, "Oh, you should teach a workshop! If they accept a proposed workshop, they will pay you $50 for speaking, mileage to get up to the convention, and, best of all, you get in FREE!!" Looking at her in amazement, I asked, "What on earth would I teach????"
Did I mention that I had been struggling with homeschooling ever since I started? Wasn't it ludicrous to think of me teaching a workshop on homeschooling so I could afford a convention where I could be taught how to homeschool? A proverbial chicken/ egg situation if ever there was one!
Not recognizing my mental struggle with this dilemma, Joan pulled out the previous year's convention schedule, with its varied workshops, and handed it to me. Quickly glancing down the list, I noted that the ONLY music workshop was using classical music in the home and that there were NO history workshops. At that moment, an idea was born:
Why not teach American history through American folk music?
This combined two of my passions: history and music. As one who loved the stories of history, I had seen how the subject had often been rendered as dry as dust and as forgettable as leftover oatmeal. And, as an instructor of folk guitar, I had noticed that many of my elementary age students had no familiarity with the common songs of my childhood—like Yankee Doodle, Erie Canal, and She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain. When I suggested playing one of these tunes, my students would often look at me with blank faces, because they did not know the songs that had previously been taught as a normal part of school. It had become something of a soapbox issue for me—I wanted to do something to restore folk songs to the curriculum of American children. After all, folk songs are part of our heritage, they give us a sense of who we are and where we came from. . . And, they happen to be a lot of FUN!!
Speaking on your own passion is a good rule of thumb for wannabe speakers. If you love it, others may catch your enthusiasm for the subject.
To my surprise, when I sent a proposed workshop, "History Alive! Through Music," the convention organizers accepted it for the 1989 WHO convention.
That was the start of twenty-five years as a homeschool speaker and, as I'll share in a later post, the start of twenty-five years as a homeschool writer/ curriculum producer.
Never saw it coming, but, oh, what a ride this has been!!
A six-year old girl is told she must drink buttermilk.
No one in her family likes it. But since they were all required to drink buttermilk by stern teachers with sour faces (impacted, no doubt, by the buttermilk), she must now experience the unpleasantness.
She tries a sip—and it is worse than she feared!!
It tastes SO awful, yet she has no choice but to drink the whole glass.
Tearfully, whimpering with each swallow, this little one chokes down the most disgusting drink of her entire life.
There is no joy here, only a dismal future of consuming soured milk.
Now, imagine this:
A six-year old girl is told she gets to drink BUTTERMILK with her beloved daddy!
It is initiation day into a very select group of buttermilk-lovers.
Her father shares stories with her of how much he, his brother and his dad LOVED buttermilk when he was growing up, and she can tell he means it because of the delight on his face.
He describes how carefully they would search out the best sources of really thick, wonderful buttermilk…And how they sprinkled just the tiniest bit of black pepper on top to make it perfect.
She takes her first sip of what she knows must be INCREDIBLY wonderful, because her father considers it so. YUM!! It is simply the best flavor she has ever had in her entire life.
There is utter delight, a sense of belonging, a new world of flavor opened up for her. The anticipation of her next glass of buttermilk prompts her to ask, "Daddy, when do we get to have some more????"
I have imagined the first scenario, but I lived the second at age 6, in Miami, Florida.
Do you know, until my husband turned slightly pale when I wanted to buy some shortly after we were married, I had no idea that others did not LOVE buttermilk.
I had the same experience, with that same sense of wonder and initiation into the world of oyster-eating, when I learned to eat raw oysters with my daddy when I was four years old. Hood's Canal, Washington.
And, again, when I was introduced into the wonders of eating pickled pigs feet with my daddy at age five. Apple Valley, California.
What are the common elements to these three unlikely-to-be-enjoyed-by-a-kid foods?
It's simple: my father's passion for them.
He not only loved these foods, he thoughtfully engaged me in the experience, introducing them to me with his own delight and with you-get-to-be-part-of-this-amazing-treat-too stories.
On Monday, I shared "What's In Your Cupboard?" to bring to light the remarkable wealth of wonderful heritage, experiences, passions, and knowledge each of us bring to our own table—and the powerful antidote this can be to the "comparison trap." But knowing what you have is only the first step. The second step is learning how to share it in such a way that our kids think it is FUN!!
The Buttermilk Lesson is a window into how my father shared weird foods with me when I was young in such a way that I totally loved them.
No, this is not one of those how-to-make-a-meal-from-whatever-you-can-find-in-your-cupboard-when-you-should-have-gone-to-the-store-yesterday blogs. Although, if I were to be truly transparent, I might be considered an expert in putting off going to get groceries. . .
Instead, it's a mental morsel to munch on as you go through your day, loving your kids and doing life.
When I was a young homeschool mom, it became SO intimidating to listen to others talk about all of the things they were doing:
"My son is studying with a Ph.D. scientist at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry."
"My daughter is studying Chinese and Arabic with native speakers."
"My children study dance at the Pacific Northwest Ballet."
"My children are taking private harp lessons from the symphony harpist."
I mean, how could I possibly do all of those things for my children? Thinking that those activities were what we needed to be doing—though impossible for us at that time—brought a level of burden and guilt that nearly crushed me.
You with me so far? Does this sound familiar to you??
Well, dear one, let me share something that was a great antidote to this "comparison trap."
Think about what's in YOUR cupboard when it comes to your heritage, your interests, your experiences, your knowledge.
For instance, we have friends who love to snow ski. And they are good at it. REAL good. It was a joyous part of what Bruce and Barb did in the early years of their relationship, and it became a natural part of their homeschooling journey. I was constantly amazed to hear about the incredible places they skied, the wild adventures they had, and the way it knit them together as a family.
I don't ski.
We have other friends who live in the Canadian Rockies. They intentionally chose to make the most of the great outdoors where they lived, learning as a family how to camp, canoe and hike in a wilderness setting. Daryl and Kathy shared extraordinary stories with us as we drove along the Ice Fields parkway, providing not only a vista to the Rockies, but a glimpse into the incredible experiences of this family.
I don't camp.
Good friends of ours spoke Hungarian at home. When their children were little, they chose to begin teaching them both Hungarian and English. This wildly difficult langauge to learn became part and parcel of two little boys' lives because their mom and dad knew the langauge.
I don't speak Hungarian.
But, when considering what was in MY cupboard, I realized that music was something that we could actually give to our children. My husband, a band teacher, brought a variety of musical styles and a knowledge of music history to our kids, while my love for folk music (playing folk guitar and singing) provided an opportunity for them to play with—and enjoy—a unique interaction with music.
At last, something I could do.
For instance, when teaching our children how to sing harmonies, I used humor, rhyme and rollicking musical fun in this ridiculous round (which my middle child vigorously protested):
That was us, the uniquely Waring family, giving to our kids something they would not get anywhere else. It helped define who we were as a family, it provided engagement and interaction, and it was a LOT of fun!
So, what about you? You may not snow ski, camp, speak Hungarian, or sing. But there are amazing things you bring to the table—fabulous gifts to give your children—that no one else can give them in your unique way. Looking at yourself, your spouse, your extended family through appreciative eyes, consider the treasures you have to share with your own children. Ask yourself: What ethnic heritage, particular passion, interesting experience, or fascinating knowledge do I have to give to my children? In other words, what's in YOUR cupboard?
For the past few weeks, I have been sharing back stories for the 62 bloggers on our Experience History Through Music launch team. By request, I would like to share it with you:
So, more back story. . .this one brings us up to the present—with a bit of a miracle thrown in!
Sometime in the mid 1990s, the partnership that had originally produced "America," "Westward Ho!" and "Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder," decided that it was time to let a "real" publisher take over. So, we signed contracts with a company that was quite large in the homeschooling movement at the time. We were excited to have others doing the day-to-day details, as I had moved from the Portland area to South Dakota, and this was going to make things so much easier for us all.
However, when this business went bankrupt in the late 1990s, something happened that was past my comprehension. I still don't know why, but when they declared bankruptcy they simply threw everything in the dumpster—including our masters. When I heard this, it utterly devastated me. These wonderful projects were gone, and to reproduce this again seemed too hard without the audio masters. Between having to start over from scratch with all of the images and graphic design and having no audio masters, I thought the entire project was gone forever.
People would ask us about them from time to time, as they had read about them, or heard of them, or had owned the original cassette tapes, but we always told them sadly, "I don't think they will ever come back into print."
Then, several years ago, Gena Suarez of The Old Schoolhouse contacted me to see if we might have any remaining stock of this product. She had heard of a family who had gone through a fire and lost everything, and her company was trying to help them rebuild their lives. I guess that the mom specifically talked about these American folk music in history books/audios, and this prompted Gena's call to me.
I contacted the former partner who owned the recording studio to see if he, perchance, had somehow saved the audio files to digital. At the time, Tad was quite busy with other things, but he told me that he thought he might have saved a FEW songs. Since it didn't sound promising, I thought it was probably a dead end. And I was sad all over again. It seemed like such a waste of a really fun product, that families had thoroughly enjoyed for years!
And, of course, these were the first books I had ever written. . .
Why I tried again two years ago is a mystery to me. I just took the notion to contact Tad once more and ask if he had discovered whether or not he had saved any of the songs. This time, as we talked, Tad realized that there were possibly some ways he could "pull out" the recordings from the antiquated DAT machines. However, he was in the midst of some medical issues, and was not sure how much time he would have to devote to the project.
It took two years. And then, suddenly, I had an email in my inbox. The songs had ALL been digitally restored, remastered for CD, and were ready to go!! I could hardly believe my eyes. After fifteen years, these products were going to have a new life.
I can hardly describe what this means to me, personally. But, maybe I can share with you what happened a few months ago to illustrate. Our business phone rang one day, and a woman began excitedly talking to my husband. As he heard what she was saying, he suggested that I would like to hear her story directly. When I took the phone, this is what she said:
"Diana, I met you fourteen years ago at a convention. When I told you that our family absolutely LOVED 'Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder,' you told me what had happened when the publisher threw your masters away. You asked me to pray that somehow it would all be restored. . . And, I have been praying!! Each time I walked by the cassette tape, I was reminded to pray. . . for FOURTEEN years!!"
She went on to say that she had just read on social media that the products were coming back into print, and she was so excited to see that her prayers were finally being answered. Together, we shared a few tears and a few amazed words of joy at what was taking place before our very eyes.
And, now, YOU are all a part of this restoration!! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!
I love this week's topic. Experiencing the bubbling up of real joy is one of the most precious, wonderful gifts life has to offer, isn't it?
Joy is possible at all ages, in multi-faceted ways. Consider these few:
- successfully riding a bike for the first time;
– picking up a squirming puppy who happily licks you;
– seeing a sparkling hummingbird sip from your feeder;
– hiking up a mountain to a spectacular vista;
– promising "I do" to the one who has captured your heart;
– holding your new born child.
But joy is not limited to wholly happy situations. Joy is possible in times of difficulty, as well. And it is as much a gift in that time, if not more, as it is in times of happiness.
While researching the background for the Civil War song, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," I was struck by the fact that this jaunty piece of music was loved—and played—by both North and South. In the midst of devastation, here was a tune that invited war-weary soldiers to continue moving forward with a smile and a song.
I remember, in the midst of great difficulties twenty years ago, listening to Larnelle Harris' song, "I Choose Joy." Each time I heard it play on the radio, I was reminded of the incredible opportunity we each have to welcome joy in the difficulties. Please believe me, I am not talking of a fake, smiley-face, pretend sort of joy. Instead, I found that moments of real joy can honestly be experienced in times of trouble.
These are a few from my life:
- laughing uproariously at a silly joke with a friend who lay dying;
– listening to a profoundly beautiful song that connected my heart to hope and life;
– sharing dark-roast coffee and precious moments of conversation with a dear friend;
– luxuriating in the comfort of a steaming hot bath;
– enumerating the blessings in my life, and seeing how they far outnumber the tragedies.
Dear friends, today I choose joy. How about you?
Sitting by the beach at Lake Erie only a few days before Mother's Day, I am pondering the concept of "choice" in love. In the English folk song, "Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier"—which was a favorite tune during the American Civil War—a young woman determines to sell her spinning wheel in order to buy her beloved a weapon of defense in a time of war.
I have a spinning wheel, two, in fact. The novel experience of spinning wool into yarn is usually fun, though I seldom make the time. In fact, it took me eight years to spin enough wool to knit my husband a sweater! Fortunately, since spinning is just a hobby for me, we have the opportunity to buy sweaters in a store.
It was not the same for the woman in the song. In her era, a spinning wheel was a dearly held necessity. Though it is hard to imagine now, a spinning wheel was once the technology that allowed one to make yarns/fabric/clothes and, for many, it was the critical piece of equipment for earning a living.
She chose to sell it in a breath-taking act of sacrifice.
Why? Because of her love for Johnny.
Real love is not mere words. Instead, love is a day-by-day choice, most clearly discerned through generously unmeasured acts that benefit the loved one.
Today I choose to love. How about you?
P.S. If you are in the Harrisburg, PA, region, I would love to meet you at the CHAP convention this weekend! Be sure to catch my mini-concert at noon on Friday, featuring some of the stories and songs from the Experience History Through Music series. Bring your sing-along voice, as it will be an audience participation concert!