Well, life in semi-lockdown goes on, and we’ve had plenty of time to settle into new rhythms. Human beings are certainly adaptable creatures. What would have been unthinkable just months ago seems relatively normal now. It’s true that a lot of conversations start with a hopeful, ‘After lockdown…’, but generally the days pass peacefully enough and we’re all keeping ourselves busy in our own ways.
This morning we went up the hill behind us with C’s new kite. We did quite well for beginners – lots of frustration but also some glorious moments that made it worth the effort. C practised her gymnastics up there and we also found some more feathers for her feather collection. On the way down, we saw one of our neighbours who was filming a peregrine falcon’s nest on the cliff below. We’d heard that there was a nest there, and were able to take a look on his camera at the bird sitting with her chicks – all keeping our distance of course. He told us a little about the falcon’s habits and other birds we were likely to see up there. There’s so much to be learned from the people around us.
E bought himself a tin whistle a few weeks ago and has been persevering at it pretty much daily. He has taught himself to read music and I’m amazed at the ease with which he’s progressing. I remember learning to read music being a fairly tortuous process, but E is making it all look very simple. He keeps himself motivated by looking online for tunes he particularly likes. He goes between that and following the tuition book, which means also doing scales and some songs that are less interesting to him.
C is learning to rollerskate, and one of the advantages of this strange moment in time is that there’s almost no traffic so she can practise in the road outside. This is all proving a bit more challenging than the tin whistle, but despite the falls, she usually gets up and keeps going. Sometimes the frustration is too much and she gives up, but the next day she’s back again. Again, intrinsic motivation in action.
We do a lot of talking here, and today we had all the usual conversations that blow my mind and have me reaching for my phone to search on Google. They often start with someone asking, ‘Did you know?’ Generally I did not know, but I try to keep up, so I’m becoming knowledgeable on a range of subjects that I’d never really thought much about before. Today’s mix of things included modern architecture, solar panels, alpacas, why the voting age should be abolished (this is a big one here right now), Cuba’s healthcare system, native Australian animals, what a ballad is, the good and the bad of free market economics (another favourite), and what the ideal city would look like.
At 3pm we went out to sing in the street with our neighbours. Thanks to our lovely neighbour two doors down, who strikes up the music at 3pm on the dot every day, we’ve been doing this religiously for eight weeks. We’ve lots of songs in our repertoire now, and it’s fun and uplifting. We’re a mixture of very young, very old and everything in between. The children often join in, depending on what they’re up to.
C and I then took a neighbour’s dog for a walk with a young neighbour C has made friends with, along with her sister. So, C now has friends nearby and a dog to walk, which is pretty much all she has wanted since we moved here a few months ago.
We’re really appreciating our immediate neighbourhood. One of our reasons for choosing to move back to the UK from Spain was to find a more accessible community for non-schooled children, so what is arising now feels extremely precious. Unschooling works best when life around is interesting and varied, and right now there is so much that is engaging right on our doorstep. On a street nearby, they’re creating a little street allotment, and people are pitching in to help.
And what did they learn? Well, who knows – certainly a lot. The most valuable lessons on offer right now are powerful and you couldn’t recreate them in a classroom however hard you tried. What they’re seeing and experiencing is that however difficult or scary the world is, there is solace and hope in nature and people. That there is no better time to watch the nesting birds, to co-create and to share. And, that no matter how you’re feeling, singing with the people around you will always lift your spirits.