Batman rushes over to my kitchen counter with his two older homeschooled siblings, Hansel and Gretel, but his 5-year-old heart is not into looking at the grossness of the kefir grain globs, or even smelling the luscious cream cheese I made from it (He will melt later, though, when I give him some fresh kefir bread).  He twitches and dances in place, his mind outside on the trampoline, on the joy of jumping.


“This is Science,” says their mom happily.  They are here for a total of just twenty minutes — a blissful break from their routine — and then the piano teacher, a high school senior who comes to their house and charges $5 a lesson, will arrive at 3:30.

After about five minutes, I pronounce the kefir lesson officially over and the kids bolt for the door as if they were going to Disneyland itself.  Their mom and I slowly follow them out and stand together on the deck in the sun, and I try to take in the scene through their eyes.


The chickens and all three goats are down in the lower pasture enjoying the piles of flick weed we’ve thrown over the fence for them.  I’m brushing out Sage’s fleece in great gobs now, and saving it in a bag, but you couldn’t tell it from how fluffy he still is.

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A mourning dove coos in the forest.  At first I think it’s an owl, but the sound is softer and less punctuated.  The Bearded One hears it now, too, from where he sits watching the kids jump.


All three kids jump at the same time, a first for Batman.  He’s always just been too small.  He is elated.  Empowered.  He whoops and hollers.  He just got the training wheels off his bike two weeks ago.


“MOM!”  Hansel sees us standing on the deck and runs over.  “You have GOT to come with us!  PLEASE!”  He’s headed toward the hoophouse.

The thermometer on the hoophouse reads an incredible 80F degrees on this 50F degree day.  The kids want to escort their teacher into a humid jungle she will never forget.  The heat will bake you! they say.  You can’t breathe!

Any sunshine at all magnifies the heat through the plastic.  I just watered this morning, so the humidity is intense.  Water drips like after a rainstorm.

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“PLEASE!” the students beg, but their mom says she has to stay up on the deck and watch for the piano person.

The kids are entering the hoophouse now.  Hansel and Gretel run the length of it, but Batman stops at the door and dramatically clutches a hand to his mouth, indicating that the sheer intensity of the heat has fried his lungs.  He backs out, then steps back and waits a second to cool off.  He can’t wait to be overwhelmed again.


And then the young piano teacher drives by on her way up to their house.

Hansel’s lesson is first, but Gretel wants to go with him.  The two siblings race across the yard to the back gate and the secret forest trail to their house.

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Batman instantly realizes that all the trampoline competition has just run off.  This has never happened before.  He swings into action.  “Can I jump ALONE?” he asks.


“Yes,” his mother says, “for a couple of minutes,” but he hears no time restraint.  He beelines for the trampoline and sings out, “Doink,” on each of the seven log steps.

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And then he begins to jump.  Higher and higher.  He stops and skips around the perimeter, feels his weight in his legs.  He shouts Hee-Haw and shakes his booty and yells for us to watch this and watch this.  Finally he lays down flat on his back in the middle of the trampoline universe, looks up into the cedars, and sings out again, “I can do it.  I can do it.”

His mother smiles and wonders out loud if there is actual piano playing going on over at her house.  “Time to go!” she says and takes her kefir grains and the jar of cream cheese and her littlest student home through the front gate as he says he wants to stay for ten hours.

A good day at school.


9 responses to “Doink

  1. Love it. Want to marry it.

  2. You need a hammer to get fleece out of a goat!!! I knew they were tough critters but a hammer?!!! ;). I am smiling :). I, too, heard a mourning dove in the bush while we were talking to a friend on our early morning dog walk yesterday :). I WISH I had been able to home school my kids. We would have been a self contained unit and their psyche’s might have survived their 7 moves in 8 years better if we were focussed on a homeschool rather than so many new schools they were a blur. I love how you are integrated into the schoolroom. I love that your home is an opportunity for learning, for education and understanding and realisations and in Batman’s case, “Awakenings” :). To share in that is what true community is all about…passing on knowledge is like passing on cream cheese and kefir grains, a true learning experience. “Give a man a jar of kefir cream cheese and he will eat for a day…give a man a jar of kefir grains and he will eat for a lifetime”. You rock Christi girl and you made Steve a happy little camper as well :). If he had a trampoline to jump on he would be on it with his jar in hand (and his spoon! 😉 ). Hugs from cold Tassie 🙂

    • “They do object to the hammer,” says the Bearded One, who just last week bought a nifty new goat brush at the feed store. It’s very satisfying to rake it through all that fluff.

      About homeschooling, given how much you and your kids moved, it would have helped I’m sure. The community piece is really important. I remember mentioning homeschooling as a possibiity once to my eldest daughter and she immediately interpreted it as a threat. No way could I EVER provide enough community for that child! I’ve been vindicated in that inability…her capacity for relationship is unequaled. But I completely agree with you about how cool our neighbor is to allow us in. Batman indeed had one of his many Awakenings HERE this week!

      Thanks for your fun comments, Fran, and to Steve, for identifying our flick weed all the way from Tasmania. Now that’s community, too.

  3. Christine Widman

    Community. You and your neighbors have certainly created a thriving, sharing community.
    Here our community consists of strangers meeting first at the breakfast table and then, with our repeat guests, via email communication and seeing each other once a year at our B&B.
    Last week every guest at our B&B (from Toronto, NYC, Maine, & Minnesota) was a return guest. All of them knew each other by first meeting here. And were thrilled to be seeing each other again.
    At our breakfast table today we had all new guests – couples from Sweden, British Columbia, Missouri and Illinois.
    I love hearing the conversations and laughter happening at the dining room table. I feel that the kindness, appreciation and interest in others that our guests show radiates out into the world.
    This helps me greatly when I feel heart-hit by news of tragic current events.

    Your blog and Dennis’ blog are also community creators via the internet..
    It amazes me how many people from so many countries read Den’s wildlife blog.
    You must experience this also.
    You both create Joy and Hope for a connected world.
    Many Hugs,
    The Bearded One’s drawing of the hot Hoop House wilt was spot on!!!!!!!
    I’ve seen it here – a Sonoran Desert 112 degree summer day.

    • You and Den do such a great job at The Azure Gate, and Den’s pictures are stunning. The cover of my own A BEAR TALE is one of his photos! As you know, the Bearded One and I tried to copy you and Den and start a B&B/retreat center almost 10 years ago now. It didn’t work out — the permitting was a monster — and I can see that it was for the best. What you and Den have created for travelers and family boggles my mind! We do what we can to create connections, in our own ways, inspiring each other along the way. Hugs to Den and you both.

  4. How precious! I love your writing, Christi!

    • Thank you, Susan. I love writing this blog each week. It focuses my week, and keeps my writing compulsion busy…and it’s fun to see what drawings the B.O. comes up with!

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