~ I ~
Our family had an amazing time of togetherness. We were spoiled by our butler. Every afternoon Belle would wonder aloud what “prizes” (surprises) he had left for us in our room. We ate and ate and ate until we thought one last late-night crepe from the dessert station in the Garden Cafe might make us burst! We swam with beautifully coloured iridescent fish that leapt right out of the water by the dozens at our fingertips as we fed them. We marvelled at the similarities of island life between Bermuda and the island we call home a little farther north in the same time zone. But the water…oh, the water! Believe me, we have no shortage of beautiful beaches on our island, but the water never beckons me like it did in Bermuda. Its temperature and that turquoise colour that defies description were so inviting, even to this non-swimming, water-avoiding mama! We fell in love with historic St. George’s and wished we had just one more day to wander its streets and soak in its fascinating story.
~ II ~
Travel and learning went hand in hand for us while we were on vacation. School may have been officially on hold, but only our family is zany enough to actually enjoy documentaries as our nightly entertainment. While eating popcorn and cookies we learned about the geography and wildlife of some of the world’s “Wildest Islands” in the Caribbean, the Hebrides, Japan, and Vancouver Island. Another evening we watched an animated version of a Shakespeare story we learned about last year – A Midsummer Night’s Deam.
We hiked a few nature trails during our time in New Hampshire and even learned how to tell the difference between Sugar Maples and Red Maples (RED=3 letters and has three main points to its leaves, SUGAR=5 letters and has five main points to its leaves).
I’ve already mentioned the fish we snorkelled with in Bermuda, but we also discovered that little green lizards are about as common there as squirrels are here for us. The girls got up close to a few of them! And speaking of getting up close to animals, we got to see lots of interesting ones at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum, and Zoo. Although on the smaller side, this zoo and aquarium is excellent!
At the Dockyard we had fun exploring cannons and tunnels in a huge, old fort. It was also neat to see lots of artifacts at the Dockyard Museum that had been brought up from numerous shipwrecks around Bermuda, dating back to the 1500s.
The Crystal Cave tour was another highlight of our sightseeing in Bermuda. The cave is fascinatingly beautiful. There’s no life in the water of course because there is no sunlight that reaches into the caves. However, we did learn about a species of shrimp that has adapted to living in the dark caves. They have no eyes. They are translucent. And, get this – they live off of bacteria that grow on their legs! Ick! If they get hungry, as our tour guide so eloquently put it, “They just lick a leg.” The mingling of fresh water (rain water that drips down into the caves) with the salt sea water causes a prism effect where you can’t really tell accurately how far away the surface of the water is or how deep the water is. I couldn’t believe it was over forty feet deep. It looked more like ten!
~ III ~
I was so excited to receive a copy of The Cloud of Witness while we were away! My husband gave it to me as an early Christmas gift. I just couldn’t wait that long to start enjoying its daily inspiration. This is a book I have been wanting for awhile. It’s a book of quotes from scripture and famous minds of history put together according to the Christian calendar. This little book, although not compiled by Charlotte Mason, was a book that she gifted to each of her teacher graduates. I am loving it. So glad Riverbend Press has done this recent reprint!
~ IV ~
It was difficult to slide back into “school” this week after our time away. I realized a few weeks into this school year that I needed to adjust our schedule. Mondays and Tuesdays are full days with swimming lessons and recorder lessons in the afternoons. I was really not enjoying trying to cram so much into those two mornings before we had to rush out. I finally decided to move to a five day schedule to lighten the load on those days. Last year we did a four day week and then enjoyed group activities like artist/picture study, composer study, nature study, handicrafts, Shakespeare and the like on Fridays. Instead, now I have spread those group time subjects out throughout the week and do core subjects on all five days. This past week was our first week of trying this new set up. I still need to tweak it a bit. Monday and Tuesday were definitely easier, but stuff kind of started piling up near the end of the week. Maybe we were just a bit sluggish coming off of vacation mode? Or maybe I just need to come to grips with the fact that I can’t do it all and drop some things? One of our Aesop’s Fables this week was the story of The Boy and the Filberts. He attempted to take too big a handful of nuts from the jar and couldn’t get his hand out. His mother advised him to take half as much and he’d be able to get his hand out easily…and be free to have more later. Moral of the story: Do not attempt too much at once. I’ll “chew” on it a little longer.
~ V ~
I experienced firsthand the power of picture study not once, but twice during our vacation. The day we were to disembark, we were escorted to a restaurant onboard where we sat, waiting to go through the immigration process that was mandatory for all non-US citizens. As we sat there, waiting our turn, Boo excitedly starts tugging on my arm and pointing to the huge paintings on the wall. Much to our delight we were surrounded by huge replicas of various Edgar Degas and Vincent van Gogh prints. I was so impressed that my seven year old remembered Degas’ name – one of our artists from last year. I could see the delight in her face. It was like bumping into an old friend.
Later that day I was finishing a book I had brought along on the trip. The main character was attempting to describe what she thought to be her artist husband’s greatest painting. She likened it to a Fra Angelico masterpiece. Now, if I had read that a year ago, the comparison would have been lost on me; but since Fra Angelico was another of our artists from last year, I could immediately picture the colours, the details, the delicate and intricate angel wings.
I need no more proof of the benefits of artist study. It really deserves a blog post of its own…many, many blog posts in fact. But for now, I wanted to get these experiences in writing before they slipped my mind completely.
A very happy Sunday to all of you. Even as the final leaves fall from the bare limbs and “death” and sleep seem to reign in creation, I will myself to remember that this is Ressurrection Day – the first day of another brand new week. I pray it has been filled with rest and soul-reviving worship for you.