26 August 2007

Vacation Time

Last week my family went on vacation.

We spent 2 days at Old Sturbridge village in Massachusetts. This is a living history park, showing New England life in the 1830s. The staff dresses in historical garb, do work typical of the period, and answer endless questions. We like giving them tougher questions than they usually get ...

My 11 year old daughter had the chance to do some blacksmithing — she forged an iron wall hook. [With a little help from the blacksmith.] My 6 year old son made a tin candle holder. They both enjoyed their crafts very much, and would have stayed at the smithy for hours.

I had a teaching moment myself. OSV has a water-powered wool carding mill, where people would take sheep fleece to prepare it for spinning. The fellow demonstrating knew a lot about the water works, but had no understanding of wool preparation. I'm a self-taight spinner, so I gave him a quick lesson on hand-carding. The woman with the plant dyes knew her stuff, though.

I was surprised at the number of ignorant kids and parents I saw. 1830 wasn't that long ago, yes, people could get goods from all over the world, kids learned to read, and some houses eve had indoor plumbing! [Well, a well pump indoors and a latrine connected to the woodshed.] 1830 was the beginning of the Industrial Age, and people had more in common with us than with Dark Age serfs.

After our trip to Sturbridge, we took a one day expedition to L.L. Bean in Freeport, to buy a shocking but necessary amount of clothing. My husband has very short legs, and Bean is one of the few places left that will do custom hemming on regular pants.

School starts this week ... the kids and I can't wait.

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