Years and years ago, a simple cabin sat nestled on a ridge in a grove of trees. Even in it's day, it was plain and small compared to the large family home across the cotton fields. In the springtime, a hedge of cheerful daffodils sprouted and bloomed along the perimeter of the yard. Mary Tate spent countless hours in front of her home, planting day lily bulbs, ornamental cabbages, and other flowers, attempting to make her home a welcoming place for passers-by. Although she enjoyed the breeze which steadily blew over the ridge, she was never able to fully appreciate the beauty of her hard work. You see, Mary Tate was blind.
Here begins the story of Mary Tate and her brother Harvey, who lived in a cabin on the back of our property. When we first moved here, the cabin was standing, but on the verge of complete cave in. We wanted to clean it out, preserve the window frames and doors, and save any treasures found. A suitcase with a luggage tag bearing the name, "Harvey Tate, Whitfield," newspaper clippings about the young Shirley Temple, handmade clothing, and rustic furniture were inside. The roof was collapsed, and everything was wet and rotten. Weeds, brush, and thorns had overtaken the yard. Unfortunately, before we could do more research, the cabin was burned down and everything lost when a fire got out of control.
We did find out from a neighbor that Mary Tate, a blind woman, lived alone in the little cabin. Her relatives, who lived in the farmhouse across the fields, boasted surviving a Yankee invasion during the War Between the States. Apparently, Yankees left the battle of Brice's Crossroads and decided to camp out at the Tate house. After the Yankees kicked the door in (the door is stored in this barn to this day!), Mrs. Tate somehow convinced them that they could come in her house, but under no circumstances would they go upstairs! You can see the barn from the "front yard" of the old cabin. The antebellum farmhouse burned down two years ago when a space heater caught fire.
Last weekend we went out to the old cabin and cleaned out around the homeplace. The Daffodils were being choked out by weeds and thorns. It seemed so sad to see what someone had clearly worked hard to maintain all but forgotten. After a few hours of raking and brush cutting, the area looks very picturesque. It will make a great camping spot for later this spring, and there will be dozens and dozens of day lilies before too long! (The picture below is the side "yard" of the cabin. The daffodils growing make a border of what was probably once her yard.)
Friday, March 4, 2011
However, there has been absolutely nothing in my life that has been more gratifying (besides giving birth) than seeing my kids go from non-readers to readers, and knowing that I helped them accomplish this milestone!
Josh is 7, and has gotten to absorb a lot of things at a young age... he knows a lot more Latin and history than the others did in the second grade, and the kid is a math whiz... but he has gotten robbed in the area of reading. He did not get as many age-appropriate books read to him. Instead, he had to listen to chapters and chapters of Johnny Tremain and other books with no pictures. Also, I started my job at a very critical period in his phonics, and there were too many days where it was just too easy to say, "We will do it tonight after dinner." Of course, this translated to, "No phonics today."
I have buckled down over the last few months, and it is finally clicking! He is on lesson 90 of "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons," and he is starting to recognize the phonogram patterns quickly and on his own! Hooray!! I am so proud of him!
I am also trying to do a better job of reading aloud to him each evening. It's funny, when I start reading "Lyle, Lyle Crocodile" or "Miss Nelson is Missing" or any other book, the other kids come creeping out of the woodwork and end up all gathered around me too! I guess we never outgrow those read aloud favorites!