Willows and Woollens pt. 2

My final thoughts on the first part of Home Education deal with the issue of nutrition, clothing and fresh air.  I am a self-avowed health nut.  We mostly drink water, eat our fruits and veggies and get outside for some daily exercise.  But I have to say I had never considered how digestion affects a child’s attention.  Specifically digesting a big meal while doing something else such as school or hard playing. Health trends change almost weekly, it seems.  When I was a kid, it was only eat 2 eggs a week because of the cholesterol.  Does anyone else remember the four food groups? It was before the food pyramid took over and then we went back to the plate.  Some of CM’s advise seems like it could be out of date.  Let the children have plain food and let sauce be their hunger. She also advises children should like what they are eating or they won’t digest it well.  I wonder if there is truth to that? Today our food is so processed and our taste buds so corrupted by said processed food that I have to wonder how one could feed their child foods that they like and make them nutritious, healthful choices? My son would eat pizza 3 days a week if he could and ice cream afterwards. But I do not choose to let him indulge in such practices. One of his tenth birthday presents was the gift to stop eating asparagus.  He really despises it but ate it without too much complaint for ten years.  I make him broccoli or cauliflower instead.

And then there’s the maaaaaatter of wool ( Did you hear the voice of the fuzzy little lamb? My family loves animal noises). CM really touts the benefits of wool clothing and advises it above anything else. I mean this lady really loves wool.  She even says that children should play in the rain in course serge (a durable twilled woolen or worsted fabric) without waterproof coats! As long as the clothing is changed promptly upon returning indoors.  The wetness is no more damaging to them than when they take a bath! Her reasoning seems to make sense. She advocates that the skin needs to breathe and when we stop it from breathing properly via our impermeable textiles we prevent toxins in the body from optimally escaping. So interesting! Alas just the idea of wool makes me start dripping sweat…  we  live in the tropics.  Surely cotton or linen must be a  far better choice than wool.  I mean she lived in England where it is NEVER warm enough to go in the water (ask me how I know) but here near the equator…

Well it turns out after a little research that wool actually works both ways which if I had just kept reading further in the chapter I’d have found out.  Apparently it’s homeostatic? This is a new word to me so I hope I’m using it properly.  What it means, to my understanding, is that it will keep you warm in cold weather and cool in hot. You may sweat and it will pull the sweat away from you without you feeling damp.  So I decided to try it. I’m in the beginning of what I’ve boringly dubbed “the wool experiment”.  I bought a merino wool workout tank from a site called mountain steals.  It costs $35.00… this was a steep discount.  I have to say I rather like it but I question whether it is financially feasible to have all our clothes wool.  Have you ever been to the UK?  There are sheep EVERYWHERE… maaaaaahhhh.  Australia, New Zealand…. maaaaaaah.  The U.S. ? Crickets.  Hence the high prices. So my verdict on wool is if you can afford it, try it but if not, cotton has to be better than polyester.

And last but certainly not least is fresh air.  CM says fresh air is more important to proper brain function than good food or proper clothing, (and we know how highly she think of wool).  She talks about leaving the the windows open at least an inch all year round.  I had a friend when I lived in Germany who grew up in the Netherlands and she said they did this. Even in the dead of winter they slept with their windows cracked.  I try to think about the times when I read this with fireplaces in every room and depending on where you live the soot of factories filling the air… I imagine it could be a very unwholesome atmosphere.  Hygiene was not at its highest. But back then the houses were not sealed as tightly as they are today so I have to think this could still be a problem and that leaving windows cracked might not be as daft as it sounds.  This is where I can finally rest easy.  On our island, we have this one nailed.  Everyone leaves their windows open all the time.  Occasionally, such as last night, we run their air conditioning but that is rare.  The trade winds are our best friends and I have to say that at least in this dept. we have scored! But we probably won’t live here forever so I still need to keep this in the back of my mind…

So what are your thoughts? I’m amazed at CM’s common-sense wisdom.  I am not a doctor or nurse.  I’m just a humble teacher, by trade, but I must say that what she says makes a great deal of sense to me.  Sometimes I think we are too quick to dismiss the wisdom of ages past.  And while I don’t approve of blood-letting as a means of getting rid of disease (CM did not advocate that), I do think that some, maybe more than we’d care to admit of the timeless wisdom of the past might not be as outdated as many skeptics would like to think.

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