Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Day in Our Life -- At Least for Now

We are still at the lake, but we started "back to school" two weeks ago. Since summer's in the air, I like to keep things light, refreshing, and different.

Each day, the girls complete a math workbook page as a review. We also read from Abraham Lincoln's World, which we are about to finish. Yesterday, we learned about Louis Pasteur and Joseph Lister and discussed their impact on medical practices of the day. We then read from either This Country of Ours or "Brutus," from Plutarch's Lives. We are just about to complete those, as well.

Today is "Scope Day." We have checked out a neat telescope from our town's library. It's clear today, so I'm hoping for good viewing tonight. There is not much light pollution where we are, so even without a telescope, we can see much more of the night sky than we can at home.

Tiny Girl found a butterfly's wing on our deck table this morning. We brought along our new microscope, which has yet to leave its box (!!!), so we're going to take a look at the wing with the microscope. I'll post photos later.

Our life at home is busy, activity-filled, and, now that the girls are in middle school, more academically rigorous. We don't tend to have or take time to venture out. While we're in Maine, I look for things to do and places to see.

Yesterday, we visited the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in New Gloucester. It is the last remaining Shaker community in the world, and there are five Shakers who live there. Volunteers and hired employees help run the community. Miss Priss had wanted to visit here for two years since she read Lois Lowry's Dear America book, Like the Willow Tree. The main character and her brother are sent to live at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker community after her parents die in a flu epidemic in 1918.

 A view of down the road at Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village

We took a guided tour of the village, which was very informative. (Miss Priss related to me later that she knew much of the material already, but I did not.) None of us knew that the Shakers invented the roll-up shade, circular saw, and the flat straw broom!

As part of the tour we were able to go into some of the buildings. The worship building was built in 1794 and is still used today. Visitors are welcome to attend the Sunday service at 10:00 AM. I wished we lived nearby so we could experience worship with them!

House of worship

Interior photographs are not allowed. I wish I could have snapped a few photos for you. The dark blue painted trim is original and in fine shape. Shakers enjoyed painting the interior elements of their buildings. The three colors used most were the dark blue, a dark red, and a very popular mustard yellow. The ministry house sported a light aqua blue interior trim as well.

The Girls' Shop, where the younger girls lived and worked

We enjoyed a special exhibit on the children's lives at the village. Often, orphans or children whose parents fell on hard times were brought to the community to live. We learned about Sister Mildred Barker, whose widowed mother took her to the village when the child was seven. When her mother returned to collect her, nine years later, Mildred chose to stay. At 21 years of age, Mildred decided to become a Shaker herself, and signed the covenant. She died in 1990. Sister Mildred was an important figure in Shaker music, and she was also a poet. Here is the first line from her poem, "A Prayer":

I am so small alone, and weak,
Defeat I often see;
But by the strength of Thy right hand,
A conqueror I'll be.

The community still functions as a working farm, keeps an orchard, and sells goods in their store. It is certainly not the successful concern it was back in its heyday, but focuses now on preservation and education. Also, their herb garden provides much in the way for herb and spice sales, sachets, and TEA! All are reasonably priced. Here's a link to their online herb catalog.

At the store, we purchased two CDs of Shaker music; a kitted hat for my niece; and two bottles of homemade flavorings: mint water and rosewater (with recipes!).

The store, which smells wonderful!

I was surprised to see Highland cattle, which I'd only seen in Scotland before. The girls were delighted as well.

Sheep, too!

It was quite a fantastic and enjoyable day. If you're ever in the area, make plans to visit. You'll be glad.

So there's a look at A Day in Our Life! When we get back home, we'll hit the books hard. But doesn't everybody enjoy this style of learning, too!

1 comment:

  1. I'm so jealous!!! ;) Love the pictures and history lesson, Ellen! (Oh, and by the way, your hair is lovely too! I thought it was a Pinterest "do.")


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