Musings on Moving

This article first appeared in the Homeschool Journey newsletter, March 2005

Usually each month I write a longish article on some topic
which strikes my fancy, often accompanied by a practical list of ideas and tips
following on from the main article. This month, however, I am taking a pause,
taking stock and simply sharing a bit with you all about the big change in our
life. And then I’d like to give you all some updates on All Things

(By the way – several people have mentioned finding our
name difficult to pronounce. Put the emphasis on the second syllable – ChrisTOFFerus – then it shouldn’t be too

So… the big change is that we’re moving! On March 21st
we’ll be driving 4 hours south of where we are now and pulling up to our nice
new home in the little town of Viroqua. It’s still in Wisconsin, so we will
continue to try to understand what exactly being a ‘cheese-head’ entails
[Non-US readers: sorry – this is a reference to the nickname for people from
Wisconsin, a state which produces more cheese than any other – or at least used
to.] but it’s a USDA zone further up on the scale so I will be able to plan a
garden with such delights as buddleia and philadelphus which won’t grow up here
in Zone 3.

Gardening will now be limited to flowers and herbs (and a
bit of hot competition with our new next door neighbor, one of the local
Waldorf school’s kindergarten teachers, who, by all accounts and by the signs
of a great many interesting plants poking out of the snow, is a keen gardener!)
as we will, for the first time in many years, be in town. The days of horses, potato crops, chopping
wood and hauling water from the pump are over. Viroqua is smack in the middle
of one of the largest concentrations of biodynamic and organic farms in the US,
so we’ll be spoiled for choice for wonderful vegetables, raw milk and
pasture-raised meat, not to mention Amish maple syrup, honey and fruit!

This change was a possibility for a number of years – my
husband Paul and I had had frequent “should we stay or should we go” type
conversations. Last October, as some of you know, our dairy goats were all
killed by our neighbors’ dogs (I had just driven back from the airport where
I’d flown in from Boulder, CO where I’d given some workshops at one of Rahima
Baldwin’s conferences – it was 1
am and the
barn lights were on so I knew something was up). And this was our opportunity:
either we would replace the goats and thus commit to staying or not get new
animals and so open up the possibility of going.

There are many factors which played into this decision:
two major ones are called Daniel and Gabriel, our 13 and 11 year old sons.
Daniel has become, as he’s grown, more and more interested in people – in
politics, in philosophy, in different religions – and his interests were fast
outgrowing our rural lifestyle and the isolation of living in a town where we
had few friends.

Daniel clearly needs more friends, more opportunities for
socialization – especially since his best friend moved away last year. The myth
of socialization is no myth for us – we are seriously isolated despite a number
of attempts to get involved in things, including local homeschool groups (where
Waldorf is known to describe a form of salad, not a form of education). Interestingly,
though, this need of Daniel’s for friends has not always been there: he had
great difficulty in a group in kindergarten when we were in England and I think
it served him well to be relatively isolated and home-centered as a young

Public school is a possibility… well, not really… we
have thought about it but I think it’d be disastrous for him – he’s just not
one to ‘play the game’ and would probably be in trouble much of the time. On
the other hand, he’s busy writing a series of science fiction novels and, to be
honest, doesn’t have a whole lot of time left for school. And so, the Waldorf
high school in Viroqua seems a perfect fit: founded on the initiative of 8th
Graders who wanted to continue their Waldorf education, the school continues to
be very responsive to the needs and interests of its students – and it takes
homeschoolers part time. Perfect! Daniel already knows a number of boys in
Viroqua from the Christian Community camp. (The Christian Community is a church
which Rudolf Steiner was instrumental in bringing into being:
So it looks like Daniel’s all set.

Son Number Two is not quite so straightforward. He has
always been more difficult to ‘read’, less clear in what he needs. Part of him
will miss this house and farm terribly, especially the animals. It has taken him time to get used to the idea of
moving and he has complained about having to live in town. But Gabriel is the kind of child whom a
parent must ‘listen into’, go beyond what comes out of his mouth and listen
instead to how he acts, what he does, how he makes his feelings evident. We don’t,
of course, discount his words, but we also try very hard to listen to what is
behind what he says.

Gabriel is very lonely but somehow can’t admit it. In
part, this is due to his temperament – he is strongly melancholic (though with
a wide choleric streak) and therefore the glass is always half empty, never
half full. Our concern is that his melancholia threatens to swallow him up, to
overwhelm him and Paul and I strongly feel he needs to be a) away more from his
very dynamic and brilliant brother and b) able to spend a lot more time with
children of his age. And so… Gabriel will most likely join next Fall’s 6th
Grade at the Waldorf school in Viroqua.

Daniel will stay at home for 8th Grade – it’ll
be lovely to focus on him in this way and we’ve already started talking about
what he wants to do for 8th Grade. Gabriel, meanwhile, has slowly
gotten used to the idea that he’s going to school and has started to refer to
‘my teacher’ and ‘my class’. He’s tickled that he’s probably ahead in both math
and German. He’ll spend a week with the class in April to ensure a mutual fit
and then we’ll have a whole summer to explore our new home.

Anyway… that’s us for now. I’m excited about flower
gardens and organizing a new house and getting raw milk – and being able to WALK everywhere I want. Paul,
never completely sold on living in the middle of nowhere, is looking forward to
re-entering human society! We’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

Posted on July 13, 2005 in News

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