Tuesday, July 27, 2004

We had a wonderful trip to New Hampshire! The weather was beautiful, and the kids enjoyed visiting a Shaker Village, American Indian Museum and their grandparents' shore house on the way home. We went bouldering and letterboxing, swimming in pools and the ocean, hiking in the woods and, of course, shopping.

The Canterbury Shaker Village was amazing! We learned so many interesting things during our visit, and our tour guide was wonderful. The kids enjoyed learning about Shaker dances, social structure and education. I found the inventions and gardens fascinating, and really enjoyed talking to the gardeners though I could've spent at least another hour wandering and talking. I began our visit admiring Shaker woodworking and left marveling at their innovation and embrace of technology. I think the most interesting thing I learned, however, was the impact social services and welfare had on the Shaker communities. Prior to state and federal social services, Shaker communities were particularly attractive to widows because they offered a safe place for children to grow. The children would live in a different building, but they would have plenty of food and an education--a definite sacrifice but likely better than alternatives for widows with little means and no extended family. Celibacy is the obvious culprit for the Shaker decline, but I learned that, like most things in life, the story is much more complex than any one factor.

The kids were great on the trip, especially on the drives. On the way back, we were stuck in traffic for six hours, turning a 4.5 to 5 hour trip into an 11 hour one! Thank goodness for the VCR in the van! We watched movies, sang songs, talked about our trip, played language games and did math problems. Emily loves math, and it's so wonderful to watch her natural curiosity and enthusiasm for something that strikes such fear into my own heart. She loves playing word games--rhyming, free association, finding all the words that start with a particular letter.  Julia and Sam, too, are joining in the games and surprising me in so many ways with all the things they soak and enjoy!

No comments: