Wearing creepy gym suits and having to shower at school were two things I did not like about high-school P.E. When I elected to take archery, that was a different story. I really enjoyed the class.
Just as in Grandpa Davey’s “Ticket to Freedom” in which responsibilities and commitments delayed his dream of becoming a mountain man, I didn’t get a chance to shoot a bow again until last spring when my daughter and her family surprised me with one for my birthday.
On Thursday’s, weather permitting, I go out to Lone Pine State Park to shoot my bow. It’s time I set aside for myself to practice and take a break from mommy-hood. The girls and I climb the steep hill to the archery range where we get some exercise as we walk the hilly seven-target course. Once in a while, we spot a deer.
One July morning, E took her wildflower identification book to the range. She had purchased it with winnings from her artwork and instead of complaining of boredom, she planned to occupy herself with identifying the blooming wildflowers along the path.
I started practicing at the turkey target and then made my way farther down the range. Somewhere between the white-tailed buck at 25 yards and the down slope elk at 30 yards, E discovered the chicory plant. We proceeded to the last, and what is my personal favorite target, the bear. I’ve considered why this is my favorite and have come to some conclusions. By the time I’ve shot turkey, deer, pheasant, grouse, rabbit and elk, the bear epitomizes the peak of my skill and I feel a sense of accomplishment. My concentration has improved with each target and by the end I’m ready to score, big time. Also, it’s the last target and I won’t have to hear M & E complain of how boring the whole thing has been.
Oh yes, boring! On that particular morning, E was identifying wildflowers to make it more interesting and had found some chicory.
(Being a southerner living in Montana, it has been impossible to find good coffee, at least the kind of coffee that I am accustomed to, so I joined Community’s Coffee Club, and receive a monthly package of their New Orleans Blend Coffee and Chicory.)
On the way home from archery practice, I decided to make the connection between the pretty blue flower and the beverage that I have with breakfast. The girls would have to look up, “what is chicory, and what it has to do with coffee”.
This is what they learned.
The chicory plant is a perennial that grows to about 24 inches tall. Found in grassy places, stems are branched and tufted; flowers are blue, lavender, and sometimes white. Common chicory is also known as blue sailors, succory, or coffeeweed. Chicory is an endive, or type of lettuce, and its leaves are used in salads. It is known for its medicinal qualities and is high in vitamins A and C. The root is roasted, ground, and used as a coffee additive or substitute.
During the Civil War when coffee was scarce, it was found that adding chicory gave body and flavor to coffee. Considered to take the bitter edge off of dark pure coffee, chicory has also been described as giving coffee a chocolate flavor.
As a homeschool mom, I’ve always enjoyed teaching through the art of connection. This is a method whereby teaching is through demonstration of how one thing leads to another. This process makes learning fun and helps to reinforce the subject, which in turn leads to better retention.
In closing I shall note that I do not think that my coffee and chicory tastes like chocolate, but I do know that I prefer the rich, smooth taste of coffee and chicory over pure.