Friday, July 25, 2014

Summer Schooling in France: Ocean

First confession: I do not love the beach. The ocean, though, is part of my very soul. I love the ocean, especially in the off-season, when I get it to myself. It is going to rip my heart out all over again to leave it. Think snow, sister, and how much you would miss that again...snow is good, and Christmas tree hunting in the snowy woods, and fires in the hearth with hot cocoa. Besides, you and sand will no longer be intimate buddies, yay, Iowa. Sorry, back to the beach.

As an educational tool; the seaside is matchless. Number one advantage; children WANT to be at the beach.
No coercing, cajoling or need for promises of delicious snacks to get them there. I am practically speed-walking to keep up with them all.

We spend hours answering questions about the moon and the tides, the tide pools (massive, dangerous things along the Aquitaine coast here. At high tide, they create a whirlpool/wash-you-out-to-the-end-of-the-earth-effect,but they're wonderful to play in at low tide.) The older ones want to know about surf conditions and waves, the others about when and where to swim and why they have to dive under waves when they get too big. Sometimes the older two get distracted by beach humanology, or the study of the opposite sex clad in swimwear. (This would be an opportune time for a reminder lecture on many topics.)

My tiny niece and nephew, exploring sand architecture.

Then there are shells and rocks and smooth pieces of glass; marine biology, geology, physics...without even trying. Fish, birds; more biology...and have you ever told the beautiful story of Johnathan Seagull with your feet in the Atlantic while watching the sun set? (Well, maybe not the whole story right there; the waves make an awful rucccous at this time of year, but it was begun there, and finished later while knitting on a towel while the littles dig in the sand or make bracelets from bits of rubber.)

Last...or primary, depending on your thoughts; PE class. It is work to walk through sand, swim in waves, fly a kite, play soccer on a beach. Once again; there has never been a need for encouragement to move at the ocean. We have all kept active with the bare minimum of equipment; a bucket, a shovel, a ball, a kite. My surfer husband does not have a board here, much to the dismay of the kids, and to my relief. That did not ever spell bordom; just more questions for the adults to answer. Why are 87 people trying to surf the same wave, Dad? (sociology and group think). Was it like that when you were young? (ancient history). What was it like when you saw the ocean for the first time, Mama? (lessons in gratitude). 

If, like us in one more week, you do not have a seaside of your own, no reason to despair, one can learn anywhere, as you know. In most parts of the world, one can always take a road trip and reach the coast or a Great Lake for a blissful voyage into water and sand.

Beach in June (my nephew again):

 Beach in July (note opposition with beach earlier, in June):

It's hard to get a clear sun-set photo, but here is a hazy one:

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