Saturday, March 28, 2015

Weigh Hey and Up She Rises!














Fourth grade. Maria has anticipated fourth grade, and its special activities and rites of passages, since first grade. It's the same for fifth and six grade... she's known about the egg drop from the hundred foot ladder truck, and camp in Cuyamaca, and she has been eagerly anticipating, even preparing for all of it, since she was six years old. And now, she has experienced a big one, the night on the Star of India, working as a mate aboard the world's oldest active sailing ship with her classmates, teacher, and best of all, her dad as one of the chaperones. When I realized that Geoff's break might align with this trip, I was excited, too, because it was such a great opportunity for him to participate in something very special. As a driver to and from San Diego, I did get snippets of their experience, like hearing the captain remind parents that they needed to be there for safety, as observers, but should otherwise "Sit on your hands, and keep quiet," because this adventure is about the children, not adults out to prove they are the smartest fourth graders! Funny, and wise. Parents were not in their own children's groups, either, so as much as possible the students could immerse themselves in 1850, sailing to California for a gold rush opportunity. Maria's wish to be a mate, taking orders from the first mate, and taking charge of her own crew, came true, and she was assigned to the fore deck, and walked the first watch until 11 o'clock at night. They ate rat stew, and slept below decks on the ship's wood floor. They even slipped into the long, dark and narrow passage to inspect the bilge! They raised sails, heard yarns, and swabbed the decks. And they sang! And danced! All the songs Maria and Geoff have been learning, those unsavory lyrics, and funny tunes!

Everyone came off the ship smiling and well-worn out, some a bit bewildered... either lack of sleep or the return to the 21st century was to blame. Maria is still beaming, three days later, and still singing those shanties, Geoff, too. Geoff says it was something he will never forget, and he's glad he went. Maria is bursting with stories, and marvelous little facts and tidbits about life on a ship, her duties, and sympathies. For me, it was a chance to step back, and wait and see. It's bittersweet to see that overnight, Maria grew. I can't help wanting to be part of everything she does, to be needed, but this life of hers is blossoming so nicely, I am very happy to enjoy the sweetness of her making it her own. Next year: That much anticipated egg toss from the hundred foot ladder truck! And, we solemnly vow to leave all the engineering and construction of her egg cage in her very capable hands!

8:04 am, Post Script :: Their Fates

Geoff and Maria are up. Geoff's got an ear-worm, and has been whistling the one about Nelson's blood {shudder... what a gruesome yarn that goes with that shanty!} The tune echoes in our empty living room. This Chcikenblog post brought up more stories from their voyage, and Maria mentioned, in passing, something about everyone 'getting their fates,' and I had to ask her, 'Fates?' All the sailors chose either to stay on the ship, be dropped off in the Sandwich Islands, or head to the gold fields of California, and then next morning they received their fates. Maria said hers was one of the weirdest fates: "I chose to go to Hawaii, the Sandwich Islands, but then I was struck by lightning while on board the ship," she paused for dramatic effect. It worked. I did not think this was a happy fate, and then she added the weird bit, "The lightning strike left me 'enlightened,' and I became a fortune teller in Hong Kong!" Weird, indeed. Geoff's fate... it's so plausible I can't stop laughing: He chose to stay aboard the ship, and his fate? Well, naturally, he worked hard, rose through the ranks, and this led to him eventually {inevitably?} becoming captain of his own ship! I love it.

5 comments:

  1. This is epic! :)
    -Maria <3

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  2. What a wonderful adventure for Maria and Geoff. And your photo of the otter (sea lion?) is perfection!

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    1. I really do need to Wikipedia and remind myself the difference between sea lions and seals... one has little flaps for ears. I think we are too far south, and therefore too warm for otters. Whether a seal or sea lion... he made a handsome subject, popping in like that!

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  3. I love reading about your family’s many adventures and learning experiences. You and Geoff have shown your children to look at the big picture, plan for the future, and yet live in the moment. You expose them to everything good in life and when they find something they love, they put the time into studying and practicing until they can work alongside the professionals. I especially like that their imaginations have no boundaries. And you have become quite the photographer over the years. I hope you plan to turn your blog into a book one day.

    Zan

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    1. Zan. Zan, you made me tear up a bit... sometimes, not just when parenting, it's hard to know for sure if we are doing anything right, or at least 'well enough.' And I am not trying for perfect, not by a long shot, but that someone else thinks things here are looking good, that something worthwhile is going on... well, the affirmation feels so good, so affirming. Thank you... you have recharged my batteries, given me a boost for courage and faith, and it's very nice.

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