Monday, May 25, 2015

Prayer in the Angeles Forest

I woke up this morning with my, of late, customary Dread That Has No Reason other than The Usual. I had planned on taking Oliver out to the Angeles National Forest for one of those Jim Robertson Aboriginal Skills classes* that I told you about more than a year ago when I started homeschooling. This one was Primitive Pottery. Reader, I did not want to go this morning and spent a good half hour in bed pondering whether and why. I finally decided that since I'd paid and gotten a babysitter for Sophie, I would do it.

Well, thank the good lord I did it.

I bet ya'll didn't know that you can drive for about 51 minutes outside of Los Angeles and see this.

And this:

 And this:

Jim made fire the primitive way, and then we passed around a smudge stick to introduce ourselves.

Then we set about making pottery, right down to the clay. We even made what's called the "temper."

Here are a few of the pots made in previous classes:

Oliver and I warmed up -- very chilly in the woods -- while eating our lunch:

Here are our pots:

Then we made paint. We literally made paint:

Ya'll I am not an artist, and while my intention was stronger than the finished project, my little one came out pretty damn good. I even made a lid for it. We learned all sorts of things about clay and paint and firing and all that jazz, but I won't tell you here (mainly because I didn't know what the hell I was doing).

What I can tell you is that I highly recommend a full day (ten hours for us!) in the woods. I feel utterly relaxed tonight, and I haven't felt that way in a long time. I'm not even irritated at myself for going so long without this kind of natural respite.

Jim made us a pot of soup right on the fire. It had some kind of organic vegetable bouillon, greens and herbs from the woods and water. Someone asked Jim whether he meditated or prayed. He said,

No, I don't pray. My life is a constant prayer.


*Other Jim Robertson Aboriginal Skills posts:

In His Element: Dispatch from the School of Revolution

Aboriginal Skills Part II

The Burn Bowl


  1. I always find myself wishing I could tag along with you.

  2. The day sounds absolutely divine! I love everything about it.

  3. The perks of homeschooling are many!

  4. Sounds like a soul restoring day. I'm so glad you pushed through and did it. I'm wondering though, as you were lying in bed pondering whether and why, trying to find reasons for the dread, did you come up with any? I'm in that very place this morning. The why is elusive. Soon you'll be back in nature at Hegebrook. So excited for you!!!

    1. I have so very many reasons for the dread, Angella, but there's no easy solutions for them, I guess.

  5. Sounds like an amazing experience. So happy you and Oliver got to enjoy it together. I love the thought of life being a constant prayer- something I will have to try and remember.

  6. The "Dread That Has No Reason other than The Usual"... You always seem to put into words what is floating inside my brain. I miss California and its beauty. Wish I could send you a box of Minnesota mud... Thanks for the time you take to do this blog, it's so meaningful!

  7. Fantastic! What a brilliant way to spend a day.

  8. I love that you talked yourself into this adventure. Sounds as if it was just what was required. It is amazing that this place exists so close to it a well used forest? Lots of hikers, etc.? Can you camp there?

    I tell ya, I need a lot of forest and meadow and mountain time to restore me. Just the fresh air blowing softly over my skin is a balm. It's why I put a hammock up in my yard, under the cedar tree. I lie there and rock, and watch the birds and squirrels high above me and I like to pretend I'm in the middle of the Ventana Wilderness or something.

    Go back soon, friend!

  9. What a beautiful day, and beautiful pots as well. Just this weekend Noah and I were saying to each other that we'd like to have our girls learn some similar skills.

  10. I'm so glad you pulled Oliver out of "The Machine" that is public education! Love the phrase..."Dread That Has No Reason other than The Usual." That nails how I feel when waking up some mornings.

    Jen in San Jose

  11. That sounds like a great day! What a beautiful landscape.

  12. I think I would like Jim. I spent two days in the mountains and as always it helps refill my cup, even while my daughter was draining my cup.

  13. Restorative
    Thank you for such a beautiful blog post.

  14. This is the kind of post that makes me want to pick up my life and move somewhere far from Jersey and just live in nature!! So jealous but so happy you had this experience :). XO

  15. Wow, so great you are spending this kind of quality one on one time with your child. He's so fortunate. And sounds like it turned out to be just what you needed too.

  16. Forgive me, I am getting caught up with my blogging....this sounds so grounding. Both of my children also respond to these kinds of activities and environments. Your photos are beautiful.



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