Monday, April 26th, and Tuesday, April 27th were days 128 and 129 of the pandacademic year. I was super excited that we were going to be in-person given threats of thunderstorms. Before the day started, one of the guardians asked for clarification on mask wearing with vaccinated grandparents. Specifically, does an unvaccinated Learner need to quarantine if they are meeting with vaccinated parents and vaccinated grandparents? I thanked the guardian for asking to make sure that we are all on the same page and doing what we can to protect the community. And yes, if everyone except the Learner is vaccinated there is virtually zero risk of the Learner catching and spreading the disease, so no problem at all. While much of society has given up taking the pandemic seriously, I have such great appreciation for the Abrome community who continues to focus on how their actions impact others.

I’ll start with the other cell, the one I was not a member of. We continue to post daily updates on Instagram and Facilitator Ariel ran with the update on this day. His updates are so much lighter and more entertaining than mine are. Don’t believe me? Go check it out on our Instagram page.

IMG_7061 jaw bone.JPG

The best news of the day was that a Learner who had long been remote because of the pandemic finally came back! He was the first Learner to enroll at Abrome so having him present with some of the newer Learners was great above and beyond just being able to enjoy his company again.

One of the Learners has really struggled since enrolling because of very late night or early morning gaming. Facilitator Ariel asked that Learner how he was feeling, and he said that he was feeling good because he did not stay up all night. Sounds like a winning formula!

IMG_7066 different levels.JPG

Facilitator Ariel asked the Learners to come up with a plan for the day after they broke from the morning meeting. They not only planned where they wanted to spend their time, but they also came up with a water refill plan, which is fabulous because it is one of the practices we’ve been working on (because heat exhaustion is not cool).

It was a really great day for the crew. Not only did we welcome back an old face, but the Learners also found a jaw bone, a dead gecko, played some games on their phones, and caught a lizard. One of the Learners also brought a book for the first time, which was also great because we’ve been talking about ways that we could enjoy being by ourselves even when we are with others.

I had originally planned to be in-person with the other cell, but one Learner was suffering from a bad case of sunburn from the weekend, so he stayed home. That led to another adolescent Learner deciding that he would take the day off because the person he most wanted to hang out with would not be there. With two of three in a carpool calling out, the third one also opted out. Another younger Learner decided that they would stay at home, as well, while another Learner was on an extended family vacation. This left only one Learner for the cell that day. So Facilitator Lauren planned to spend a lot of quality time with the Learner while I went back to Abrome to work on some administrative tasks.

IMG_2894 jack pumping.JPG

The Learner was initially bummed but he did not want to go home. Facilitator Lauren said, “let’s chill and eat snacks and see what day can look like.” As they discussed possibilities they chose to invite the Learner’s mom to join us. His mom said that it was a really good day for that, and soon showed up with chocolate popsicles. What a win!

The moved to the lake with the paddle board in tow, and along the way they collected and ate mulberries. A very yummy day was shaping up. The Learner was eager to help prepare the paddle board for launch, and spent a fair amount of time manually pumping it up. Eventually he and his mom set off on the lake and had a blast, with Facilitator Lauren also getting some time on it, as well. At the end of the day the young Learner said that paddle boarding was the funnest thing he’d ever done.

Screen Shot 2021-04-27 at 6.40.41 AM.png

Because I was away doing admin work on Monday I chose to be in-person all day Tuesday. But with afternoon thunderstorms rolling in we had families plan for a half-day with an early pickup. It still turned out to be a fabulous (half) day though.

Learning about what folks missed out on the day before, there was intention to pick and eat mulberries, and to spend some time on the paddle board. So right after the morning meeting we headed toward the lake.

At the lake we began collecting the perfectly ripe mulberries and eating them. While we were collecting the mulberries one of the Learners noticed a snake hanging out near the base of the trees. We determined that it was not venomous, and it looked like one they had previously observed shedding.

IMG_0713 mulberries.jpg
IMG_0724 kaden pumping float.jpg

After harvesting, the adolescent Learner who was eager to spend much of his day on the paddle board volunteered to pump it up. He made short work of it and then pushed off and did indeed spend much of his day on the water. He has excellent balance and never fell, which I thought was pretty impressive.

An adolescent Learner and I had planned to talk about Usual Cruelty, the book we both read the prior cycle, but because of the half day we pushed it off for a later date. Given that the month was almost over, and I had not yet jumped in the lake for my polar bear plunge all of April, I decided that today would be the day to squeeze it in. I asked if the adolescent Learner on the paddle board could withstand me jumping in the lake next to him without falling, and he told me to give it a shot. I did, and he stayed on, and the water was cold, making for a pretty exciting plunge.

As we settled down for the remainder of our short day we observed a water snake, had a conversation on the dock about our early Covid-19 experiences last spring, and then had a pretty engaging afternoon roundup. On our way back to the pickup point we had John and Lisa McQuackerson follow us, just as they had been doing all day. They really like mulberries.

Meanwhile, at the other cell everyone was present! We don’t mandate attendance at Abrome. In fact, we encourage Learners to take time off as they need it, and to take advantage of opportunities to engage with the world when they become available, instead of feeling as though they have to be at Abrome. Nonetheless, we do prefer that they show up, and given that some of the Learners in this cell struggle more to show up every day, it was thrilling to have everyone there. Our first ever enrolled Learner also got to meet the most recently enrolled Learner, for the first time.

The crew hiked to “the bowl” after the morning meeting, which was a welcome form of exercise considering that multiple Learners were not quite prepared for the weather. Seeing as it was a short day the walking took up much of the day, which worked out perfectly. When they settled in briefly at the bowl some of the Learners asked Facilitator Ariel about the Black Panther Party knowing that he was reading a book about Huey Newton. That led to tangential conversations about the complicated history of gun control and copwatching. But before the really good conversation could happen the half day came to an end. Fortunately, there will be opportunities for longer conversations soon.