365 Days of Earrings

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Favorite Fish

I bought this pair of clay fish back in about 1990 at the Oatland Island Cane Grinding and Harvest Festival. During the 5 years that we lived in Savannah GA, I took my children to this festival each fall.

Why go year after year?

  • To wander along the boardwalks of the nature center, looking at the bobcats, alligators, sand hill cranes, cougars, wolves, turtles, and other exotic but native fauna.
  • To chew on a stalk of sugar cane--tastes like candy!
  • To participate as craftspeople demonstrate crafts like spinning, candle making, and cane grinding
  • To visit the craft booths of local crafters
I must really have loved it, because getting there was not easy. I remember a long hike on a sandy track, pushing a toddler in a stroller while carrying a baby in a backpack. Big crowds, heat, and gnats. And all of the stuff that young children need--food and beverages, diapers and changes of clothes, toys and books and sunscreen. I feel tired just thinking about the trek. And clearly I didn't carry a camera, because I can't find a photo of these outings.

But in my mind's eye I can still clearly see the woman who made and sold these earrings. She had long wavy hair, graying in streaks, into which she braided feathers, shells, twigs, and even snakeskin. She sold clay earrings that she had sculpted, glazed, and fired. At the festival, she stood at a card table draped with black cloth, selling her wares. I bought earrings or a pin each year, chosen with the help of my young children. I wish I'd bought more.

I wore these fish today as we began to research the native peoples who made their homes in Northwestern North America. They ate lots of fish and other denizens of the seas--whales and seals, salmon and halibut. As they read about the lives of these people, my students discovered fascinating details: These people lit their homes with dried fish, called candlefish! This group ate acorns, earthworms, and grasshoppers! Wow! Windows made of seal gut!

As we cleaned up at the end of class, George announced, "This was the best Social Studies class ever!" Independent research, filling out charts and coloring maps. How I love to empower 3rd graders as they make the transition from learning to read, to reading to learn.


K├Ąthe said...

I remember getting to have a sugar cane stalk around to suck and chew on after the festival. And I think I even remember the long trek down the boardwalk. Neat! Brings back memories! I love the research your students are doing... such great activities!

jwkrumich said...

I forgot about Oatland Island! I loved the old mansion, converted into a nature center and the long board walks through the swamps. I think that is the first place I saw alligators in the wild.