Poetic Strokes & Word Flow Anthology 2014: Homeschool Writing Group Well Represented!

JJM Braulick, Leslie Schultz, & Atia Cole  (photo: Liana Cole)

JJM Braulick, Leslie Schultz, & Atia Cole (photo: Liana Cole)

In our longstanding writing group of four, three of us were eligible to submit work to the Southeastern Libraries Cooperating Organization (SELCO) 2014 Poetic Strokes/Wordflow regional anthology. (Scroll down for text of our poems!)

Each of us did, and–surprise!–each of us is thrilled to announce that our work is represented together in the same volume. SELCO represents eleven Minnesota counties. Poetic Strokes is open to adults (ages 19 and older) resident in these counties; poets in this age group could submit two poems each. Wordflow is open to residents aged 14 to 18; younger poets could submit one poem each. All told, 307 poems were received this year from 223 poets residing in 37 communities, and 51 poems were selected for publication (23 by 21 adults, 28 by 28 younger poets).

We three are very honored to be included, and to know that our work is on the shelves of the libraries in those 37 communities. We are also proud of the legislators and the people of Minnesota for making this possible with funding from the Arts and Culture Legacy Fund (ACHF). The ACHF was created in 2008 from the Clean Water, Land, & Legacy amendment to the Minnesota State Constitution. Funds are used to help promote arts and culture throughout the state (including this year’s Northfield’s Sidewalk Poetry Project and Poem in Your Pocket Day projects.)

Legacy Logo ColorFinal

Poetic Strokes Tide

Poetic Strokes Chosen

Poetic Strokes Forest

If you would like to have a copy of the anthology for your personal or civic library–or to receive notice of the 2015 competition next fall–please contact: Reagen A. Thalacker, Regional Librarian, 2600 19th Street NW, Rochester, MN 55901 (507) 288-5513!


Homeschooling Adventure: The Creativity of the International Crane Foundation (ICF)

I am most used to the kind of creativity required to make new things–from word-built objects like poems and stories; from arrangements of color, form, texture, and line like photographs and quilts, to new placements of plants in the garden or ingredients in a recipe. Because of my daughter’s passion for ecosystems, however, I have been learning for the past several years about the creativity brought to bear by an amazing organization: the International Crane Foundation (ICF). Last June, Julia and I planned our second visit to this visionary place, the center of an organization that has inspired Julia on many levels. We were joined by my sister, Karla, an extremely talented wildlife photographer. When cranes are nearby, all of us uncap our camera lenses, as you can see below. Crane Weather Vane















Founded in 1973 and headquartered in Baraboo, Wisconsin since 1984, the ICF combines Midwestern roots with a truly international in focus on species preservation, habitat restoration, and interspecies cooperation. Cranes function as key indicator species, and the ICF factors in meeting dire human need as a powerful strategy for preserving key wetlands and nesting sites A hallmark of the ICF vision is to inspire and empower the local populations to protect cranes and their habitats by providing economic incentives and by spreading the word about how wilderness and wetlands is critical for humans as well.

Julia at ICF 2

As a homeschooling parent & teacher, I see the ICF as a kind of role model because of their creative inventiveness. When they see a need, they find a new way to meet it. For example, after meeting the enormous challenges of hatching healthy whooping crane chicks in captivity, a new challenge emerged: how to teach young cranes to migrate more than 1,000 miles without adult cranes to guide them while, at the same time, to prevent these chicks from imprinting on humans so they can function in the wild. What solution would you devise? I don’t know that I would have be able to come up with the workable solution ICF did in 2001–to use light air craft as migratory mother figures, guiding the young birds all the way from Wisconsin to Florida!

Julia-eye view:        Julia at ICF June 2013 I love the International Crane Foundation, and it is my favorite charity. Though there are many worthy causes to choose from, the ICF’s work in wetlands, some of the most fragile ecosystems, and with the people who live near them, earns ICF the highest place every Christmas time on my contributions lists. I have been to the ICF twice now and think it is inspirational and great! I took this picture before I was aware of the International Crane Center–although I identified it as a crane when I was eight, Nancy Braker of the the Carleton Arboretum let me know it is probably an egret. (Thanks, Nancy!) Egrets, herons, and cranes are all so beautiful! I think it is fitting that cranes are symbols of peace.

St. Augustine  (photo: Julia Braulick)

St. Augustine (photo: Julia Braulick)


Karla-eye view:

Karla at ICF

Karla at ICF

Early June was a lovely time to visit the ICF.  It was a little cold with a misty rain, but the cranes were out in force.  I found the ICF to be peaceful and beautiful, a perfect place to spend a day in nature.

Recycled Glass Path (photo: Karla Schultz)

Recycled Glass Path (photo: Karla Schultz)

The pathway to the crane exhibit is made of recycled glass.  It glistened in the morning light.

Whooping Crane Vocalizing (photo: Karla Schultz)

Whooping Crane Vocalizing (photo: Karla Schultz)

One crane was enthusiastically communicating.  I wished I was able to understand the language of cranes.

Lupine Flowers (photo: Karla Schultz)

Lupine Flowers (photo: Karla Schultz)

The nature trail that wandered down to the pond was bordered by bright green grasses dotted with flowers.

Whooping Crane Preening (photo: Karla Schultz)

Whooping Crane Preening (photo: Karla Schultz)

A crane engaged in a routine task of preening looked so graceful I was reminded of ballet. Leslie-eye view:

Leslie at International Crane Foundation

Leslie at International Crane Foundation

Woods and Wetlands at ICF

Woods and Wetlands at ICF

Crane at ICF

Cranes are not complete strangers in Northfield, either. We saw evidence of a turning tide in 2010. Not too long ago, the endangered whooping cranes visited our area, near the amazing piece of land maintained by Carleton College called the McKnight Prairie. If you are able to visit Baraboo, Wisconsin, do stop and enjoy the features of the International Crane Center: an impressive array of cranes from around the globe, an interpretive center (and friendly, knowledgeable staff), woodlands, wetlands, and prairie. If you can’t visit in person, be sure to peruse the fascinating ICF website where you can see wonderful pictures of cranes in their natural habitats around the globe, read about the history of saving these threatened populations, and help support their mission through membership and online shopping for books, gifts, photographs, and jewelry. If you have a favorite crane or a favorite story of habitat preservation, please let us know!                               Leslie, Julia, and Karla___________________________________

Julia at ICF 3








Back to (Home) Schooling for the First Year of High School & Poem “Desire”

Yellow Leaves Leslie Schultz Watermark

Labor Day is (paradoxically) an extra day of rest, a little booster rocket of celebration needed for the burst of energy we summon to launch into fall. Doesn’t autumn feel at once like an ending (to the growing season, to the languid opportunities of summer vacations) and also a new year, a threshold marking heavier clothes and weightier endeavors?

In our neighborhood, there is also an annual picnic held on the Hill of Three Oaks, on the nearby Carleton College campus. Families come. Children are one year older than last fall, giddy with the anxiety and possibilities of stepping into a new grade. But that will be later. The evening picnic is the time to pass potluck dishes, lounge on the brittle August grass, converse with kind neighbors, swat mosquitoes, watch the young ones run across the fields in seemingly random but purposeful ways, and watch the sun sink over the St. Olaf hill. The day after Labor Day is Back-to-School.

IMG_8546 (Pink Leaves) Leslie Schultz

Our family isn’t always able to attend the picnic, and this was one of those years. With a mound of apples to preserve, an mound of mulch to move, and a several text-related deadlines, we decided to stay home and tend to this enjoyable labor. For us, the shift into the school facet of fall isn’t so sharp and clear as it is for our neighbors, because we have been homeschooling since January of 2006.

Since we homeschool, we have some flexibility if we need or want to take time off during the traditional academic months of September to May, and we also have the option to continue to work on academic subjects during the summer. Most of the time, Julia is keen to continue making progress in languages, music, mathematics, and history–as well as in her creative writing–during the summer. At the same time, the pace is slower, she has fewer structured courses, and we plan for time off and for visits with friends. In addition, Julia spends more time swimming, having sleep-overs with friends,  training for the local Y Kids Tri triathalon, biking, and reading more books just for the sheer pleasure of the summer read. We also dream up a few special summer projects. This year, as regular readers know, we published a co-authored novel called And Sometimes Y, and hosted a readers’ theater to examine William Shakespeare’s Hamlet in detail.

Monarch & Coneflower Close

But will things be different, now that Julia is on the cusp of high school?

Enrolling in a baccalaureate program is four years away, but last month, she took her first admissions tour, and she is beginning to make choices that will prepare her for the roller-coaster ride of college admissions in just a few short years. We’re planning a couple of other campus visits, to colleges in other states, next year. Julia now keeps her own records for time spent on each subject, and she’ll begin to prepare her first transcript in January. She’ll also take the SAT for the first time then. Julia is thinking about a program we have in Minnesota, called PSEO, in which she can get support to attend college-level classes while still in high school and planning to work through a high school chemistry text this year. This is the fall she’ll publish her first solo title–something she’s been refining on for four years–and continue to work on a novel.

This year, she plans to continue to make lots of time for folk dance and recorder–she is a founding player of the Rice County Recorder Consort–piano, music theory ,and the Mexican Folklorico dance troupe. She’ll continue with Chinese, Latin, and Greek, and  riding lessons at Winter Haven Stables, and she wants to spend more time in prairie landscapes.

McKnight Prairie

On the Way to Winter Haven

(View on the Road to Winter Haven Stables)

For this year, the weekly schedule looks similar to last year’s, but I sense that change is moving in, like weather that hasn’t yet arrived. It will be interesting what directions Julia uses to chart her course. And it remains to be seen how I will chart my own!

Compass Plant   (McKnight Prairie Remnant)

Compass Plant (McKnight Prairie Remnant)


The summer sky is swollen silver and blue,
perhaps meaning rain, perhaps a cyclone, or
perhaps nothing at all, a few drops on the dust
while the birds frantically hide in the wide maple crown.

She sits bent-legged on the braided rug, leaning into
three books at once, old books with cut pages and
spines of slick leather.  Behind her is the kitchen
door, where the supper dishes will wait her out.

She is so young.  She could be a colt or a bird who has not
yet stood to find its balance.  Her head bends toward her knees,
and her hands reach out to the world she begins to enter,
born up by a wind of desire into the storm of herself,
welcoming, as heroes do, a difficult passage.

Leslie Schultz

Julia holding Peanut

White MailboxOther News

Future posts will include: “Urban Adornments” (a look at the ways that cities add to the quality of life through public art both humble and monumental), interviews with several creative people, more on homeschooling adventures, and lots of photographs and some new poems.

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