Into the woods

Into the Woods : : : : Clean

Into the Woods : : : : Clean

Into the Woods : : : : Clean

"Oh, Mama, look! It's like a gnome's ski trail!"


A bird of prey had been hunting mice in our pasture and indeed, it was like a gnome's ski trail.

I exhaled.

That long, delicious sort of exhale that means that the small and jumbled pieces of a messy day are finally falling into place.

Our Monday was off to a rocky start.

Finding our groove again post-holidays can be sticky. We've been busy packing up the Solstice decorations and buttoning-up house projects; juggling teenage sleep schedules against those of our hungry sheep; looking everywhere for our misplaced daily rhythm and homeschooling mojo after so many days of travel and celebration.

We're also figuring out (again) how to homeschool these two very different kids while running a business and managing a small farm and cooking meals three times a day. (Three. Meals. Who knew these people needed to eat so often?)

It's like we've thrown too many balls too high into the air and we're racing around trying to keep them aloft.

I was crabby, they were crabby. It wasn't working.

And so we headed for the woods.

Because: exhale.

Into the Woods : : : : Clean

Into the Woods : : : : Clean

Into the Woods : : : : Clean

Into the Woods : : : : Clean

Into the Woods : : : : Clean

Into the Woods : : : : Clean

Into the Woods : : : : Clean

Into the Woods : : : : Clean

Into the woods : : : : Clean

The woods. Our woods. In the constant shadow of the hill from November until February. With it's muffling snow and gurgling creek.

The fire pit, forgotten last winter was quickly found again and a fire kindled once more.

Cold toes, warm fire. I remember.




We brought a thermos of soup that we sipped as we warmed our feet by the flames. There were branches to gather, and logs to chop, and smoke and fire to keep us busy.

And – like magic – our collective grouching and grumbling was paused as we sat there in the silence of the forest.

We talked, we laughed, we found our centers once more.


The woods. The fire.

Our winter haven. Our Monday place.


And once a week our hair and coats will smell of wood smoke again.


Gnome trails or otherwise, we certainly found magic here. 

And – yes – our rhythm and mojo once more.

Because Monday, as it turns out, is the nicest day of the week.

We had just forgotten.









7 thoughts on “Into the woods

  1. Michelle says:

    You know Rachel, this all sounds so wonderful to me, but again I ask, (not trying to be cheeky or anything like that) but how do go to the woods and get your children educated in the book sense at the same time. I have been trying for years to wrap my head around unschooling and I cant do it. I mean, your school board must have some requirements of you, does it not? How can you unschool and make sure they know their math skills and how to write a proper paragraph and how to write up a science experiment? I know there is equal value in nature study and practical skills. I know that. But the other stuff comes in handy too, don’t you think? Again, I am not criticizing, just curious. 🙂

  2. Rachel Wolf says:

    No offense taken, Michelle! I could write for hours about this, but I’ll try to be quick. I believe that going to the woods is as vital to a well-rounded education as studying many more “traditional” subject areas, if not more so. Especially when it is fueled by curiosity, passion, and a hunger for knowledge. That being said, going to the woods does not mean it is all we do. Yesterday, for example, we spent the four hours before we headed outside working on creative writing, computer coding, and long division (among other things). There is time for more than just one method or just one path in our days. Rather than going into the hows and whys of unschooling I will direct you to some other posts I’ve shared in the past. I explain a bit about how unschooling works here and here The book Homeschooling our Children, Unschooling Ourselves is a great read as well.

  3. Jeanette says:

    I need to remember to step back…head to the woods….when we are having those days. I think we’d all be better off if we exhaled really deeply more often.

  4. Amy says:

    Oh my gosh, good for you! We homeschool as well, and yesterday was brutal! In retrospect it would have been so wise to make a nature walk and backyard fire our homeschool plan for yesterday…but we did not, because Mama was feeling the need to jump back in and make a reading lesson and some math happen…. despite a major lack of enthusiasm…. and there were lots of grumpy people here, and even some tears! Today we are taking it way slower, and the “school” agenda includes setting up a new altar and doing some family meditation. I was going to then commence science day and just do experiments, but I think first we need to go for a snowy ramble down to the river, and then play with matches out back! Nature and fire are always a sure way to cheer up my boys! Thanks for the reminder!

  5. Margaret Bloom says:

    Lovely as always. We have rain here, and both my boys love rain walks. The tap tap on umbrellas is a beautiful sound.

    And teenager sleep patterns. Oh, my. We have that going on in my house, too, however, no hungry goats and sheep to feed early in the morning around here. But keeping this boy fed? It’s non-stop, and utter decimation in the kitchen when his friends are around! Am enjoying this entry into teenage years much more then anticipated; it’s strange, wonderful and startling to have this great, hulking (sulking) boy loping around.

    Thanks for your words, as always…

  6. Micayla says:

    Hello Rachel!
    I am so happy I’ve stumbled upon this blog. Reading through a couple of your posts, each strikes me as SO beautifully written. It is a real treat to step into your cozy and stunning world.

    I am currently pursuing my own decidedly different post-secondary path, a sort of cobbled together “uncollege” if you will, and find all things alternative schooling absolutely fascinating.

    Anyhoo, I’m looking forward to being a regular reader of Clean! Thanks for sharing your world. I want my Mondays to feel this magical 😉

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