I had every intention of writing a post about a favorite fall story for you all this week. But then I realized that a big part of what we are doing in our own family right now is not only about gathering leaves and acorns and watching colors change, it is also about the way that we spend autumn preparing for the winter and spring that are to come. This last week and weekend, we dug under our community garden plot, pulling up the last of our spring sown garden plants and sprinkling cover crop seeds that will finish out the growing season for us. This process, of course, lends itself to talking a bit about the cycle that plants and animals go through each year as the seasons shift. Which brings me to the book that I want to share with you today: What's This by Caroline Mockford.
In my teaching life, I have often used What's This as a book for teaching about the beginning of the plant life cycle in the spring. But this year, I realized that it is just as much a perfect book for talking about the part of the cycle that arrives each autumn as we harvest plants and look forward to the quiet of winter. What's This is the story of a little girl who finds a sunflower seed, and through careful attention and nurturing, grows it into a beautiful plant whose seeds she saves and shares with her classmates in the fall. What's This provides a delightful introduction to the plant life cycle by means of a sweet story with bright and sunny illustrations. What I love, and what I think makes it an idea read for fall, is the way that it also emphasizes that although the "end" of a plant's life as the seasons shift can be a little sad, it is also part of the natural order of things and is necessary for the cycle to start again in the spring sunshine.
Living in a place with long, cold, dark and snowy winters (I make it sound appealing, no?), books like this one, that emphasize the optimism and hope that each season brings as we move through the yearly cycle are a treasure. Understanding that each season has its own gifts to offer is something to really reflect upon when you feel those little twinges of sadness as the tomato plants hit the compost pile. Not that we aren't looking forward to building that first snowman- we are- but it's also good to think about the fact that sunflower season will be coming around again before we know it.