Mysterious Disappearance of 2020 Labyrinths

Where Did the 2020 Labyrinth Blog Go?

I’m curious what happened to the 2020 labyrinths blog! While I mainly walked the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth in our yard, I know I walked other labyrinths. Edith Starr Chase’s lovely one at Wickiup Hill on a magical Winter Solstice evening.  The comforting labyrinth at New Bo District. And, early in the season, the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Waterloo, IA, labyrinth. Well, it will show up.  Meanwhile, here is a look back anyway.

I’ll just share again.

Now on to 2021!

 

What is Mentoring All About?

“It’s a monster!” Payton yelled out! His fishing pole, made for a child to catch tiny fish, bent in a 180-degree arch. Somehow, amazingly, he guided the monster close enough that I could grab its lower jaw. Seconds later it was in the boat.

Boy with bass

A proud fisherman.

Wow!  It was a monster. 5.1 pounds is a big Largemouth bass. After carefully removing the hook, we slid her back into the water. The fish finned away, yet the memory will linger for a lifetime.

We’ve known 10-year-old Payton and his family for several years. His parents don’t fish and they want him to develop a wide range of interests.  I, Rich have fished for most of my 72 years and offered to take him to a local pond. That was in the spring. We’ve since floated in my tiny row pram several times.

 

 

 

Mentoring. I thought I’d teach him how to fish. I sort of succeeded. At least by these skills he’s learned:

  • Casting with one hand.
  • Fishing without getting many tangles…..and being able to untangle most of the ones he does get.
  • Learning knot tying.
  • Identifying fish species.
  • Picking the right lure and gently handling and releasing fish.
  • Spotting mink, kingfishers, turtles, and toads.
  • Collecting data. We keep length and weight records of the fish we catch.

What I didn’t realize before we started fishing was what I’d learn, including the patience needed to untangle snarls of line. I also learned some new easy-to-tie knots so I could show Payton. And, we had the chance to talk about conservation as we got to know each other.

Boy with fish

Payton has learned several skills.

Mentoring. It’s fun. Fishing has been our activity but an adult mentor can spark a kid’s interest in all sorts of activities, ranging from playing golf to fixing engines. It’s rewarding to share a hobby with a youngster…..and initiate a lifelong passion.

What Great Courses Do You Know?

Just before darkness, cold, and snow appeared last December we decided to try a new winter travel adventure. We purchased a “Great Course” called the Ancient Civilizations of North America that took us on a virtual trek across North America over a 10,000 year plus time.

The course contained 24 lectures on a CD with a paper book paralleling each class.

A Good Way to Enjoy Winter Evenings

Dr. Barnhart

Dr. Barnhart is the director of the Maya Exploration Center.

A few evenings a week we’d sit by our fireplace and enjoy a 30-minute lecture. Our professor was Dr. Edwin Barnhart, Director of the Maya Exploration Center. He’s also a Fellow of the Explorers Club and has traveled extensively. His knowledge of ancient cultures is extraordinary and his delivery impressive.  As we watched him on our television it was as if he was speaking directly to us.

 

 

His course started with archeological terms and the first people known to cross the Bering Land Bridge and enter our continent in pursuit of mammoths and other gigantic now-extinct animals.  Later lectures brought us forward in time to Native Americans along the East Coast just before Europeans arrived.

During the class, we “visited” such fascinating places as Chaco Canyon, Cahokia, Meadowcroft Rockshelter, and many others.

A Chat with Dr. Barnhart

Shortly after finishing his course, we had a delightful phone conversation with Dr. Barnhart. He lives in Austin, Texas, and was attempting to replace a water line that froze and bust in the late winter freeze that hit the Lone Star State and other southern states. Curious, we asked him a number of questions about archeology and how the Great Course we took was so effectively presented.  Here were some of our questions and his responses:

  • Do archeologists often have a feeling of awe when at a place where people lived hundreds or thousands of years ago?   “Yes, very often.”
  • We live in Iowa where ancient people often created large earthen mounds, often on high ridges above streams and rivers. Might we have mounds near our home above Indian Creek and how might we spot them? “The name Indian Creek sums it up. Yes. There might be mounds, but many may have been destroyed.  Keep your eyes open. It’s important that these places be protected.
  • When we mentioned that the area had been hit but a derecho’s 140 miles an hour wind that had uprooted many trees he responded, “Often artifacts are found in the root balls of uprooted trees. Look carefully at them and you might find stone tools or pieces of pottery.”

Keeping the Conversation Lively

  • When we asked him about how he made his course delivery so interesting he replied, “We’ll I organized the class and its content but the technical people who did the filming for the Great Course are skilled in helping make and keep presentations interesting.”  Among the aspects of the class and delivery that kept us fascinated were background murals that changed with each lecture, excellent graphics and maps, and Dr. Barnhart looking directly at us (the camera).   He would also rotate about 90 degrees every ten or fifteen minutes and look at a different camera. Then he revealed a secret. Because he knew the material well and had written the script keeping a flow of conversation was easy.  And, he quipped, “My notes were on a teleprompter.”  

We thank Dr. Barnhart for his vast knowledge and ability to communicate it. We will take future Great Courses. They range from lifestyle topics to learning advanced calculus to European history and music. For information go to www.thegreatcourses.com.

Author note:  We purchased and reviewed the Great Course on our own with no special consideration given to us.

How Did You find Joy in 2020?

Adria and Tom Fuller, Guest bloggers

In spite of the difficulties associated with 2020, including state mandates limiting travel and gatherings, it’s brought us both joy and wonder. Who would have guessed:

  • that our family-centric wedding planned for May on the Maine coast would become an even simpler ceremony in Adria’s living room a month later, the State of Illinois allowing our minister in New Jersey to officiate over the phone.  Thank you, Alexis, for a ceremony that spoke deeply to us.

Walking

  • that this Mississippi River bluffs neighborhood (where both our houses are but not within sight of the River) could become as interesting and friendly as we found it to be this summer and fall.
  • that watching the corn grow in a farmer’s field just down our street really was entertaining.

Nature and Community

  • that for a couple of weeks, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo accompanied us for miles on neighborhood walks, out of sight, but not earshot.
  • that we’d be delighted with nighttime sounds of owls, coyotes, and frogs, and daytime glimpses of a fox, spotted fawns, wild turkeys, and groundhogs right in our yards.
  • that we would see the International Space Station traversing the night sky and five planets within 24 hours: Venus, Mercury, Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter.
  • that although our church buildings are not currently open, ZOOM services have become part of the fabric of our lives.

Games

  • that we could play Pickleball on a circular driveway.
  • that Chinese checkers could be so entertaining, especially when a sleepy opponent starts moving pieces backward.

Food

  • that although he may deny it, he likes chocolate and ice cream just as much as she does.
  • that she CAN SHARE chocolate and ice cream. (Note anything chocolate and/or ice cream/frozen yogurt is almost sacred to her!  So sharing is quite the accomplishment!)
  • that she learned from him that Skippy peanut butter is its own daily food group.

Joy

  • And that after six months of marriage, he still makes her laugh every day.

We hope you too discover treasures of hidden delights in these challenging days—enough to abundantly water the new year with promise, advancement, and fruition.

Who Attended Country Schools?

Authors’ Note: Below are replies from folks who attended country schools.  Some stories originally appeared in the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

“Many older people have fond memories of attending the typical one-room school. The image is quintessential often with a painting of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln up front, a row of wooden desks, a potbelly stove in the back, and a privy or two outside. Although the facilities were humble, memories linger in the minds of older people who launched their learning careers in a tiny school.

Veteran Day’s Blizzard 1040

“I remember the Veteran’s Day Blizzard of 1940. It was a beautiful morning but clouds moved in and soon the wind howled outside Flanagan School. We had a car by then, but Flanagan School was on a dirt road. Dad thought the car would founder, but that the horses might get through,” said John Regan who attended the one-room school between Holy Cross and Rickardsville in Dubuque County.

““My teacher was Miss Regan, Dad’s cousin. She was wonderful and in that small building I learned education basics,” continued Regan.   He went on to serve a successful hitch in the Army, repaired typewriters in New York City, and emerged as a dealer of John Deere equipment in Newton, NJ, and ended up as an executive VP. He now lives in a New Jersey senior residence but often reminisces about his Iowa childhood.

Quality of Teachers and Cooperation of Parents

“Idahoan, Bob Pratt, Rich Patterson’s former college roommate, drawled, “I didn’t go to a one-room school. Mine was a two-roomer.” He added, “Grades one through four were in one room and five through eight in the other.” His school was in remote Idaho and had only three employees: two teachers and a person who was both cook and custodian. After eighth grade, Pratt attended a tiny high school. After earning his teacher’s certificate, he devoted a career to teaching practical farming and mechanic skills in equally tiny schools in rural Idaho.

“Both Iowa native Regan and Idahoan Pratt enthusiastically agreed, “The education I received in tiny schools was superb. Maybe better than I’d have had in a big school.  My classmates and I were well prepared for college and successful careers in many areas.”  Pratt continued, “I taught in high schools with just a few students in each graduating class, but they went on to great success.  One is a cardiac surgeon.  Another is a skilled cabinet maker. It’s the quality of the teachers and the cooperation of parents that make students excel, not the size of the school,” he emphasized.

Antics and Airplanes

“Friends we know in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, area share similar stories, emphasizing that one-room school education worked for them. The side stories add richness to their experiences. One friend recalled her mother getting a piggyback ride to school after losing her boots in the mud. Pam Tegler Geraghty, a retired special education teacher in Cedar Rapids admits to being a “holy terror!” as a kid at the Lamont, IA, school in the mid-1950s. Slopping in the creek on the way home and locking a classmate in the outhouse among her antics.

“Pat Maas a retired teacher and health secretary at Grantwood Elementary in Cedar Rapids, remembers the students running outside to see an airplane overhead in the 1930s, back when planes were new.”

Other Stories?

If other readers have other stories of one-room school experiences, we invite you to share them so we can appropriately add to them. Learn more about country schools in Iowa and across the nation.

Weep Not For Your Memories (Sarah McLachlan)

Guest Bloggers Share Their Memories of Past Autumns

We invited readers to share their fall traditions and memories with Winding Pathways to help us through the 2020 Autumn and Holiday/Holy Days season.

Flowers For Fall

Pink Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemums bring joy.

JH- “Every year I tend lovingly to a patch of chrysanthemums that I planted many moons ago in my vegetable garden. It has a place of importance along with my four lilies in this particular raised bed. This plant sprouts in spring and gradually makes
its way skyward until the September coolness brings teeny tiny buds which become a single petaled soft orange sherbert color. I always leave the seed stalks during the winter because I know that birds love the seeds. A sense of peace and joy washes over me as this patch sallies forth in the fall. The bees and butterflies love it as well.

Soon the cold of winter will send it into its deep sleep to wait for another year of gorgeous blossoms.”

Family Gatherings

Family gathering

Extended family

SF- “Many T-givings we spent at Grammy’s.  Everyone sat around the table, Gram at one end, Grandpa at the other. Gram served up the potatoes and veggies, she then passed the plates along down the line to Grampa who put the meat on then it was passed down the other side.  Each of us, uncles and aunts, got our meals. Gram always loaded our plates which was always too much for us kids. One year Gram said something to us that she was tired of us not eating all our food and she was tired of throwing away good food.  Mum stood up and told her we served ourselves at home and we’re expected to eat what we were given. At subsequent T-givings Gram would ask us how much we wanted and then ate what she gave us.  After Grammy passed away usually Aunt Bunny and Uncle Joe came for T-giving at our house on Tibbetts Hill.  Uncle Joe was always fun.” Editor’s note: The family later hosted extended family Thanksgivings at their New Hampshire homestead.

***

Loving the Amanas
Pumpkins and People

Special time with Pops.

KT – “I miss going to the Amana’s with my father. He has passed and while he hated the changing of the seasons to cold weather, he loved eating and visiting the Amanas with his grandchildren. We always started with breakfast at the Colony Inn. For the best thin pancakes and sorghum, along with fresh fried potatoes, eggs, and English muffin toast with homemade strawberry jam. Then we had to head to the General Store for candy purchases usually Swedish fish, Rock Candy, and Red Licorice. If we had visitors with us we would tour the Woolen Mills and the Furniture Store and of course the Christmas Store with the most beautiful decorations.

 

“The Amanas is the closest thing we have to a fun Oktoberfest setting and environment. Such a great little historic village with many family memories for me!” Editor’s note: The girls are grown now. One lives in Nashville and the other attends Luther College.

Day Trips

Mississippi River and a barge

The Mississippi River stretches from Minnesota to the Gulf Coast.

S&MN – “Each fall, we would invite a couple of language teaching assistants, recently arrived in Minnesota from France to a ride down the Mississippi River to view the changing colors of the leaves. Conversation on the ride to Wisconsin gave us a chance to learn more about each of them and their first impressions of their stay in the US. We would follow the Mississippi River down the Wisconsin side to Stockholm, Wisconsin, where we would lunch at a small cafe, visit the Amish quilt shop, gift shops, and antique stores.  This included touring a small museum of the original post office.

Conversation Openers

We would stop at the scenic Maiden Rock overlook and Lake Pepin. Did you know that Water Skis were invented there?  We’d take in the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Pepin, Wisconsin, and visit the replica of the Little House in the Big Woods.  We shared stories and explained about the Little House book and movie series as we could.  We loved making connections to life in France during the same time period of the 1870s and learning which facts were most interesting to the young interns who had read the book series in France. Thirty years ago, the language assistants would have been fans of the TV series by the same name La Petite Maison Sur La Prairie. It was a popular series on television in France. In recent years, the students would have been given details learned on the show by their mothers who had loved the show as children.

Conversations on the way back to the Twin Cities would be filled with questions that were often spurred by what we saw and that most usually unanswered.  These conversations provided us with opportunities for conversation topics in the months that followed as many were inspired to read the series in English during their stay after the visit.”

Saint Paul Intercultural Institute
***
New Adventures for a New Englander
SH – “The first autumn after we moved to Wisconsin from New Hampshire I had a wonderful introduction to the fall bird and waterfowl migration. I had never experienced anything like it. Horicon Marsh is huge!  Part of it is federal lands and part is state lands. I was not sure what to expect when it was suggested that we join my husband’s parents for a Sunday outing. I was totally amazed and awed at the sheer numbers of birds that were flying, landing, and swimming in the water. A busy main state highway that runs across the top area of the marsh. Lots and lots of cars were parked on the edges of the road with families, watching out for traffic. People were wandering about taking in the sights.
When our daughters were young, we made sure that they also had the opportunity to see this mighty spectacle. I still enjoy going across that state highway and exploring the area. A recent addition is a park-like area with a paved one-way auto road with pull-outs and informational signage. Trails to hike and a boardwalk that has a gazebo with scopes get visitors out into the marsh for better viewing. There are also various dykes and dirt roads to boat landings to explore. After the autumn rush of migration, it is still a fun place to visit, and so far no matter when we visit, I have never been disappointed. It seems like we are always able to find some wildlife and sometimes get great photos of birds we don’t see on a regular basis.”

Paranormal

SBF – “When I bought a house in FL her son told me that the lady who had lived there before had loved her house and property very much. After I moved in with my friend, Jinx, on several nights I awoke to the TV sounds in the family room so I would go turn it off. This went on for 3-4 nights.  Finally, on the fifth night I turned it off once more, but I stood by it and spoke to the previous owner. I told her I loved the house and lovely plants around it, a ginger bush, a beautiful poinsettia bush, and a pretty plant on the backyard fence. Then I promised I would try to care for them as best as I could. “But please,” I asked, “could you not turn on the TV after we go to bed at night as I had to get up to go to work 5 days a week.”
The TV never went on at night after that!”
Thanks for sharing autumn stories!