Thursday, June 21, 2007

Remembering Rich Mullins -- Ten Years Later

I don't normally listen to CCM, but a couple of weeks ago I was driving home from some activity in another town, surfing round the radio dial, when a familiar, much-loved song that I hadn't heard for a few years came pouring out of the airwaves. It was Rich Mullins' Calling Out Your Name. It's a song that has always resonated with me, but listening to it while driving across the grasslands at sunset brought tears to my eyes. No wonder. The song is about the very same wide, empty corner of the world I was driving through. Or very nearly. Rich was "raised on Indiana clay" (where we spent most of the past four years), lived in Wichita for eight years and attended Friends University, and afterwards resided in New Mexico. He must have driven through our neck of the prairie to get there.

I believe in God the Father
Almighty Maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth
And in Jesus Christ His only begotten Son, our Lord
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit
Born of the virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate
He was crucified and dead and buried

And I believe what I believe is what makes me what I am
I did not make it, no it is making me
It is the very truth of God and not the invention of any man
"Creed", R. Mullins & Beaker

Though we're strangers, still I love you
I love you more than your mask
And you know you have to trust this to be true
And I know that's much to ask
But lay down your fears, come and join this feast
He has called us here, you and me

And may peace rain down from Heaven
Like little pieces of the sky
Little keepers of the promis
Falling on these souls
This drought has dried
In His Blood and in His Body
In the Bread and in this Wine
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you
"A Communion Blessing from St. Joseph's Square", R. Mullins

Reading about his life I was both shocked and baffled to learn that he was a lifelong . . . Quaker???!! "I was twelve years old in the meeting house...listening to the old men pray..." Still, that didn't make sense. His music was so creedal and sacramental. It was one of the subtle driving forces, in fact, in my conversion to creedal, sacramental, catholic faith. Friends consider creeds and sacraments human inventions and shy away from them. But further searching revealed the answer to the mystery: Rich had been preparing for and was ready to receive communion in the Roman Catholic Church immediately prior to his death.

We are frail, we are fearfully and wonderfully made
Forged in the fires of human passion
Choking on the fumes of selfish rage
And with these our hells and our heavens
So few inches apart
We must be awfully small
And not as strong as we think we are
"Not As Strong As We Think We Are"

Rich Mullins' music shaped my faith as a teen and young adult in a multitude of ways. His music is profound and poetic, but what really gives it substance is the rich theology behind it. Before I knew what to call it, I learned the Theology of the Cross from Rich's music. He deals much with human frailty, with the "not yet" of the Christian life.

Why do the nations rage?
Why do they plot and scheme?
Their bullets can't stop the prayers we pray
In the name of the Prince of Peace

For the Lord looks down on the sons of men
To hear the cries of the innocent
And the guilty will not stand
For the day of reckoning soon will come
And the whole world will see justice done
By the Lord's almighty hand
"Why Do the Nations Rage?"

So I'm telling you the just shall live
I know the just shall live
I know the just shall live
By faith

And You will raise them up
I know that You will raise them up
That You will raise them up
On the last day

And the prayers stand where the fighters fell
And time testifies with the tale that it tells
That the meek shall inherit the earth
And the Church advances on the gates of hell
And she clings to a light that will not be quelled
By the kingdoms of this world
"The Just Shall Live By Faith"

His songs are replete with recurring themes of social justice, of identification with the poor and lowly, of the incarnation, of the glory of God revealed in the creation, of the church and her calling, of suffering and death, and of hope in Christ. He lived what he believed, teaching music and Christian faith to Native American youth on a the remote reservation where he made his home, mostly unaware of how successful his albums were because royalties went directly to his church, which paid him a modest salary and divided up the rest among various charities for the poor.

This life has shown me how we're mended and how we're torn
How it's okay to be lonely as long as you're free
Sometimes my ground was stoney
And sometimes covered up with thorns
And only You could make it what it had to be
And now that it's done
Well if they dressed me like a pauper
Or if they dined me like a prince
If they lay me with my fathers
Or if my ashes scatter on the wind
I don't care

But when I leave I want to go out like Elijah
With a whirlwind to fuel my chariot of fire
And when I look back on the stars
It'll be like a candlelight in Central Park
And it won't break my heart to say goodbye

Rich Mullins left this life on September 19, 1997, in an auto accident on his way to a concert in Wichita, Kansas.

What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be human? I cannot help but suspect that at one time in the history of thinking that people believed that it meant that we were spiritual and that we could make choices and were capable of aspiring to higher ideals... like maybe loyalty or maybe faith... or maybe even love. But now we told by people who think they know, that we vary from amoeba only in the complexity of our makeup and not in what we essentially are. They would have us think as Dysart said that we are forever bound up in certain genetic reigns - that we are merely products of the way things are and not free - not free to be the people who make them that way. They would have us see ourselves as products so that we could believe that we were something to be made - something to be used and then something to be disposed of. Used in their wars - used for their gains and then set aside when we get in their way. Well, who are they? They are the few who sit at the top of the heap - dung heap though it is - and who say it is better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven. Well, I do not know that we can have a Heaven here on earth, but I am sure we need not have a Hell either. What does it mean to be human? I cannot help but believe that it means we are spiritual - that we are responsible and that we are free - that we are responsible to be free.
R. Mullins, "Introduction to Higher Education and the Book of Love"

Homeless Man: Rich Mullins (on YouTube)
Wikipedia bio
An interview
I love what he says about the illusion of choices and about politics.

More quotes:
On mourning

On family values:

This whole "family values" thing is hugely misleading. It sort of implies that what your life is about is being happily married and having a beautiful family. And I go, "Wow, that's not what Jesus said."

You can have a wonderfully happy marriage or you can have a very successful experience with singleness and still not have anything at all when it's over. When we're dead, we're not married or single. And who we are is who we will be when we die. I think everyone should keep in mind that we will be dead very soon and live our lives in light of that. And your identity has to be something other than your marital status or your income.

On identification with Christ:

Jesus said whatever you do to the least of these my brothers you’ve done it to me. And this is what I’ve come to think. That if I want to identify fully with Jesus Christ, who I claim to be my savior and Lord, the best way that I can do that is to identify with the poor. This I know will go against the teachings of all the popular evangelical preachers. But they’re just wrong. They’re not bad, they’re just wrong. Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in a beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken. speech begins at 7:40 of the video

Use Real Words

A few weeks ago, some teen-aged friends were asking my 6-year-old son what sports he liked to play. "Basketball, "was the reply.
"Oh, do you have your own hoop?" they asked.
"Yes, we have a little one on the trellis," he said. The two teens looked at each other in dismay. "What's a trellis?" they whispered to each other.

My husband and I both have post-graduate training in applied linguistics, and we have always operated on the notion that to little children, words, big or small are "just words", and they love to learn new ones. It is a fact of human mental processes that we cannot think about things until we can name them. That is why the first phase of the trivium, the grammar stage, involves identifying and naming; that is why Montessori education has so much material for nomenclature. That's why we use real words when we talk to our children.

Words are the means by which engage with the abstract realities of our world. I couldn't begin to understand or discuss an airplane engine or an oil rig or even a game of golf (things about which I know precious little) without first learning a lot of new jargon -- words.

That said, I think vocabulary is best caught rather than taught. Good books and a good dictionary are really all that's needed. I had to do "vocabulary building exercises" in school; I'm sure I benefited and learned some new words from it (like "donned his attire" -- I remember that one!) but I'm also sure that most of my vocabulary skills came from my dad -- who uses real words -- and from reading.

Provoking my thoughts on vocabulary --a thoughtful post at Dewey's Treehouse: "It Pays Makes-Some-People-Very-Nervous-That-You-Want To Increase Your Word Power"

Letting Go

Yesterday at the pool, I waited at the bottom of the waterslide for my oldest to come shooting out the flume. My kids love the waterslide, but are not yet strong enough swimmers to swim to the ladder without help. But that changed yesterday. Erin hit the water paddling like mad. I reached out to put a hand under he belly as usual, but she shouted, "Let go, Mom!" So I let go, and she paddled on, all the way to the pool side. Of course she just had to tell the story to Dad when she got home.

Today I put her into somebody else's SUV with three other kids and sent her off to 4-H camp. I waited around until they were ready to leave. Then I told her goodbye, got in my van, and drove home with tears in my eyes. It is her first time to go to camp. It's her first time to spend a night away from home any place other than grandma's house.

Last night I checked over her bag. She had packed it herself, and there were a few things missing I knew she'd need. A flashlight. A bathrobe. Sunscreen. I tucked in her camera. And I found her swim goggles in the closet -- she'll wish she had those, I thought, and put them in the bag too. This morning she noticed the extra items. "Thanks, Mom," she said. "You're nice."

Sometimes people think that homeschool parents do what we do because we are clingy, or controlling, or overprotective. That we don't want to let our kids be independent and try their wings. That we're avoiding that universal milestone of putting our children onto the school bus for the first time and telling them goodbye. But the truth is that parenting means letting go. It's going to happen sometime, somewhere, some way, regardless of the choices parents make for their family. And it's always bittersweet.

I want my kids to try their wings. But I want to make sure they have roots as well.

Erin's going to have fun at camp. I can't wait to see the pictures.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

My Best Advice

To anyone reading this who may be considering homeschooling, reading about homeschooling, dreaming about or dreading homeschooling, my best advice ... do it. It's the toughest job you'll ever love.

But if you're going to do it, commit to it for at least a year. The first year is bumpy, and it takes a degree of commitment to iron out -- or ride out -- the bumps. The payoff often doesn't come until after the first year.

And have a care: homeschooling will reorient your worldview. It will challenge and probably change the way you look at many other aspects of life. It will very likely completely reorder the way you spend your time, organize your home, and relate to your children. In my experience it makes life much more integrated and full of connections. It also motivates you to open your own eyes and discover new interests and new questions and further your own education in ways you never imagined.

And speaking of organizing your home, some order and planning in the homemaking department is necessary to keep you from going insane. I use Flylady's system and consider it my lifeline; there is a link under her picture if you need to put a halt to your chaos. Planning meals, especially lunches, is essential. And anything you make that freezes well, always make double and freeze half when you make it. That ways you always have backup suppers handy for busy days.

Even though homeschooling tends to be mother's domain, don't forget they are their father's children too. Consult your husband when making decisions. Run your plans past him and ask what he thinks. Ask his advice...and follow it. I was never inclined toward a classical approach-- it seemed too rigid and structured, too heavily academic. But to my husband it seemed the most obvious, logical choice. I was amazed to discover my children's voracious enthusiam for world history and Greek myths. I found that they settled in happily to a structured routine of challenging work, and that structure and the interests it inspired spilled over into their play and free time. They needed it, thrived on it. And it took Dad to see it.

If homeschooling gets to be a struggle, if you find yourself butting heads with your child over certain lessons, ask yourself: is this an educational problem or a parenting problem? An educational problem has an educational solution -- a change in method or material, getting some specialized help, or just trying again later, will do the trick. A parenting problem rears its ugly head no matter what educational methods you try. I learned this the hard way with my oldest -- reading lessons simply became her chosen field of battle because she found that if she whined a little I would leap tall buildings in a single bound in an effort to "meet her needs".

Two years ago, when I was teaching my children to read, I found I was lost once we got beyond simple phonetic words like c-a-t. So I went to the library and checked out every book I could find on teaching children to read -- some that friends had recommended, and some that I just found in the library catalog. That's how I found Carmen McGuiness' Reading Reflex. I can't speak highly enough of this book. It's available on Amazon for about $16; Borders and Barnes and Noble carry it as well -- much less than a phonics program, and it takes children on up to a 6th-8th grade reading level. It is a phonetic method but is more intuitive than a traditional phonics approach. It gives simple diagnostic tools, and shows you how to analyze your child's errors in order to help them improve (e.g. if he makes this mistake, say this...). My children are 6 and almost 8, and spend their leisure time reading their Bibles and books like The Chronicles of Narnia. Enough said?

Actually not enough said, because there is one other factor to which I credit my children's enjoyment and skill in reading (and if you read the intro to Reading Reflex, you'll learn how skill and enjoyment in reading always go together) -- an environment rich in language. A rich pre-reading vocabulary is the main key to reading. Think of it this way: if a child does the work of deciphering the phonetic symbols on a page, only to discover that the resulting word is meaningless to him, he will be disappointed. And if he is disappointed in this way most of the time, he will become discouraged and give up. A broad vocabulary is easily imparted to a young child in the home -- by naming and explaining things using real words and not baby talk, and by reading aloud daily from living books.

My best advice with regard to math is: teach concepts concretely using manipulatives at least a year in advance of abstract work . I did this by accident, but it is actually what author Ruth Beechick advises in her books. So, for example, last year, (K and 1st for my two) we used only manipulatives the whole year. This year, (2nd and 3rd) the kids are working through workbooks using the addition and subtraction concepts they learned last year, and we are working with manipulatives only on multiplication and division concepts. Homemade math manipulatives work great and simple is usually better.

The principle of "less is more" definitely applies to homeschooling. We do formal "schooling" four days per week, two or three hours per day, year round, taking a break when family needs dictate. (Although when they get older, I'm sure they'll have to spend more time studying, but that additional time will be independent work.) Less is more applies to books, curriculum, and methodologies too. That's why I like CM. You can't get much more simple and paper free than narration, copywork, and real books. It isn't necessary to produce reams of written work, or to do every subject every day.

One big challenge my first year homeschooling was figuring out how to plan, and what to do if we didn't complete the plan. I'm not much of a planner...and for precisely that reason I require some sort of structure to keep me from completely flying apart. I finally got a grip on planning when I ordered Tanglewood's corebook -- I don't use it any more, but it did teach me how to plan enough to make sure we covered our intended materials in the course of the year. Counting pages and dividing them up to see how many pages per week you'll need to cover in order to finish by the end of the year is my simple proven method. I stop and take stock every few months to see if we need to work more on something or can loosen up on something else. I followed Tanglewood's curriculum pretty closely the first year, but have since branched out into choosing books myself as I have gained confidence and a better idea of what we want and need and what is out there.

Read widely and talk to people about the various philosophies and methodologies of homeschooling and take what appeals to you most from each. Don't get trapped by the idea that there is only one right way to homeschool or that you have to be a purist for something to work. I use Charlotte Mason's teaching methods, Maria Montessori's materials and manipulatives, classical content and underpinnings, and still allow for plenty of unschooling to happen in between. (Our unschoolish moments are some of our best.)

Live where you are. I live in a tiny corn-wheat-and-oil town, well over a hundred miles from huge museums, symphony orchestras, art galleries, zoos, science centers, or anything else that might be anyone's idea of "cultural and educational" experiences. But we have a great county museum that focuses on local history. We have a National Grasslands that comprises most of our county just waiting to be explored. The Santa Fe Trail runs past our town, and Coronado engraved his signature on a rock outcropping. We have a county fair to participate in. We've visited a vet's office and a taxidermist's studio. Our family doctor is always happy to answer the kids' questions. There is plenty to explore wherever you live, and things that seem ordinary and dull to you may prove fascinating to your children -- you may find as I did that your own boring little corner of the world is full of wonders.

Don't forget that playing and cooking and doing chores and doing art and building and swimming and exploring and playing games and all that other stuff is as much part of what you're doing as sitting around the kitchen table with "school" books. These are the things that turn children into whole, balanced adults and give meaning and purpose to the stuff in the books. It's HOMEschooling not homeSCHOOLING.

Favorite books:
A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola
Schoolproof by Mary Pride -- the chapter on educational clutter is especially relevant
Wild Days: Creating Discovery Journals by Karen Skidmore Rackliffe -- the most useful and practical book I've found for incorporating nature study into homeschooling. Nature study stressed me out until I read this book.
Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children's Minds -- And What We Can Do About It by Jane Healy -- mostly addresses the use of computers in classrooms, but her recommendations to parents on how to choose educational software and use computers wisely is excellent
The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer -- a classical education through high school
Kingdom of Children by Mitchell Stevens --- a sociological study on homeschool parents; interesting insights into homeschool "culture"
Ruth Beechick's books

Other "best advice" on this blog
Attention, Retention, Comprehension...and Some Painting
Link to a tip on Charlotte Mason's principle of perfect execution applied to handwriting

Friday, June 15, 2007

Black Swallowtail Caterpillars

For just ages I have been wanting to raise butterflies with the kids, but I haven't screwed myself up to order one of those kits with the caterpillars. It just seemed like kind of a big commitment, requiring a chunk of time and attention (and money). It also seemed a bit ridiculous to spend $30 for bug larvae that can be found crawling all over the green earth. So I've just kind of waited around for God to grace us with some caterpillars...and today He did.

The kids all came running in from the garden shouting ,"Mom! Mom! Caterpillars!" And there on our overgrown and bolting dill plant were two very fat black, orange, and white caterpillars. Upon closer inspection I found a third smaller one. We cut off the dill stalks with the caterpillars and placed them in a Ball jar with a coffee filter to cover it. Out came the nature notebooks, followed by about a half hour of drawing and writing about the caterpillars. They were promptly named: Bippy, Snippy, and Nippy.

I've just been online trying to find out what kind of caterpillar we've got. At first glance I thought they looked like Monarchs, but Monarchs only lay their eggs on milkweed, not dill. Also, ours have orange spots, not just stripes. Then I found this picture on What's That Bug:

Apparently they are Black Swallowtail caterpillars, which makes sense, since I have seen the butterflies in our yard. They feed on members of the carrot family: carrots, parsley, fennel, Queen Anne's Lace...and dill.

So tonight we are constructing something like this:

(Ideal, since we just replaced the screen to the back door and had a scrap. The top and bottom are round cake pans.)

Here are the most helpful links I found on raising caterpillars:

Butterfly School
Science News for Kids: Raising Caterpillars
Bug Guide: Black Swallowtails
Bug Guide: Raising Caterpillars

Sunday, June 10, 2007

27 Things

From ZenHabits, here are 27 Things Your Child Needs To Know and Isn't Getting in School. So much of this is what is kicked around in conversation in homeschool circles -- so much of this is the very reason many of us homeschool. But whether one homeschools or not, this is great food for thought. It would indeed be a shame to homeschool and not cover the territory ZenHabits lays out here.

More Dandelions

I suppose in response to my recent blog on dandelions, my mom emailed me this blast from the past -- a poem I wrote in high school for a national fine arts competition sponsored by our church denomination. I've deleted the final two lines of the poem as it was entered in the competition, because they weren't part of my original composition; they were added on the advice of my mentors to make the poem's relevance to the theme of the competition more obvious (entries not in keeping with the theme would be eliminated). But I always felt those two lines were hokey and contrived, and detracted from the overall effect of the poem. So, since this is MY blog, and MY poem is appearing in print here -- probably in defiance of "full rights" -- I have deigned to publish it in its original, unadulterated form:


Are these the bold and mighty lions,

These fluffy, flighty dandelions?

The daisies laugh; the rose entices,

But dandelions sacrifice.

Shedding off their lions manes

As soft and silvery sailplanes:

Sailplanes to bear the seed

Wherever autumn’s wind may lead.

And in the spring, the ‘lions roar,

A thousand...

Plus a thousand more.

Shall I then merely bloom to die,

Or shall I be a dandelion?

Speaking of "full rights", I am reminded of my own naivete when I see this poem. I did not realize at age fifteen, nor was it explained to me, that my poem would become the property of the religious body operating the competition, and the implications thereof -- that it was theirs to publish without remuneration as often as they liked. So I was a more than a little bit shocked a few years later (in college in fact) when a friend showed me my poem in print in teen devotional booklet. I admit it was thrilling to see my poem in print in something fairly widely circulated, with my name on it and all. But mostly I was taken aback -- I had no idea that I had prostituted my poem in this way. How public -- like a frog! What did I sign where it said that my poem was no longer my poem? First rights is an acceptable exchange for participating in a competition -- but full rights is asking too much. It's too much like stealing.

A Voice From Beyond the Grave

Today's Gospel portion was the story of the rich man and Lazarus.

Chris (dh) pointed out in his sermon today that the rich man is not looking around wondering why he is in Gehenna or trying to figure out which beggar he might have neglected. His seemingly selfless request that Lazarus be sent from the dead to warn the rich man's five brothers is merelya veiled attempt to pin the blame on God -- if the brothers will repent, it is God' fault, for not "doing enough" to save the rich man.

But Abraham answers, "If they did not repent upon hearing Moses and the Prophets, they will not repent even if someone is raised from the dead."

Ironically, Jesus later raised from the dead a man named Lazarus -- and the same scribes and Pharisees toward whom this parable was directed sought to kill him and send him back to the grave.

And then Christ Himself is raised from the dead.

Hear the message of Stephen before he was stoned:

"You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One *, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it." (Acts 7: 51-53)

If they did not repent upon hearing Moses and the Prophets, they will not repent even if someone is raised from the dead.

*There's that tzaddik concept again...

Christ in the Psalms

Chris (dh) has been reading a book called Christ in the Psalms and moderating an online study group for some of his seminary brothers on the same topic. He has been sharing with me some of the insights gained from this study, most recently the repeated references to the tzaddik --the righteous man --in the Psalms.

In Jewish tradition, tzaddik is more than just a generic word for a righteous individual. It is a title of honor for a person of exemplary righteousness, who plays a specific role in the community as such:

The word " tzaddik" literally means "righteous one." The term refers to a completely righteous individual, and generally indicates that the person has spiritual or mystical power. A tzaddik is not necessarily a rebbe or a rabbi, but the rebbe of a Chasidic community is considered to be a tzaddik. (From Judaism 101)

In the Psalms we find tzaddik in the singular (many translations fail to reflect this) -- the righteous man, rather than the righteous ones or the righteous people, or even the righteous individuals. Christologically speaking, the tzaddik in the Psalms is not just any righteous man, but the Righteous Man, the very embodiment of the Law, the Word incarnate.
Read a few Psalms with this in mind, and the prophetic and the Christological leap off the page. Then read again remembering that in baptism we are united with this Tzaddik in His sufferings and triumph, and that He has placed His righteousness in us.

Friday, June 8, 2007

A Bad Year For Baby Birds

The baby birds in our yard have been having a tough time surviving all around. Observing them, I wonder if it has just been an unusual year, or if nature is just this harsh all the time. There were three eggs in the robins' nest early in the spring; only two hatched. We saw the two leave the nest -- but found one dead a couple of weeks later under the pine trees on the north side of our house.

At the same time, a European starling had a nest in a hole in the sinnets of our house; to enter her home, she would perch on the electric wire running to the house, then dive down and maneuver straight up into the hole. Starlings are a nuisance bird, non-native invaders, unprotected by the law. This one had raised one brood early in the spring at the same time as the robins. I don't think any survived, since we found two near-fledglings dead on the ground under her hole, and never saw any others leave the nest. She is raising a second brood now. Two days ago, the children came running in from the back yard in a panic, shouting, "Mom! Mom! A baby bird has fallen out of the nest!" Dubious after the last batch of baby starlings, already dead when we found them on the ground, I went to have a look.

This was no near fledgling like the last ones. A tiny naked nestling with a wobbly head and a great yellow beak, lay curled on the ground, large read ants crawling on his pink skin. It seemed impossible that he had survived the fall of nearly nine feet. I picked him up. He fit neatly in the cup of my hand. I had never held a bird so small.

We carried him inside, brushed the ants off with a makeup brush, and wrapped him in a wash cloth. An internet search produced instructions on what to do. Put him back in the nest? I went back outside and studied the hole. I couldn't reach it, not even standing on the air-conditioning unit, and even if I could have, looking inside I could see that I would have to reach quite a ways into the hole up and over the joists...I couldn't even see where the nest was.

The little starling struggled in my hand. With immense effort, he hoisted his tiny naked chicken body up on his little feet, raised his huge, wobbly head...and then his yellow mouth bloomed open, and everything that is mommy within me melted into a mush of pity and admiration.

No, returning him to the nest was quite impossible, so we did the next best thing: put him in a cottage cheese container, lined with his washcloth, high up on top of the electric meter (the nearest the hole we could get him). I lashed it to the meter with yarn...the wind here blows ferociously most of the time.

We watched throught the day to see if the mother would find the makeshift nest and feed him. She came and went a few times. We saw the baby's little head peep up out of the container a few times, yellow mouth open wide, then flop back down. But she never went to him.

Evening came, and I considered taking him inside for the night. I was worried that he would get too cold. No, I thought. If we keep messing with him, that lessens his chances of being fed by his mother. He's survived longer than he would have had we left him to the ants. He has a chance. Leave him be.

But in the morning he was dead, motionless in the washcloth.