This summer, the kiddos checked out a book on CD from the library entitled, “The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs.” In the book, the young southern boy is bored with his Missouri, ruralville, non-traveled life. His dad challenges him to find the 7 Wonders of Sassafras Springs–his hometown. If he does, his dad will take him on a train ride to the Rockies to visit his aunt and uncle. It doesn’t take a Rocket Genius to guess that Eben McAllister’s eyes are opened to the wonders and Wonderfuls around him.
The book may go down as a new favorite-read-aloud-chapter-book of mine–along with some of my all time favorites:
- “A Long Way From Chicago” and “A Year Down Yonder” by Richard Peck, http://www.carolhurst.com/titles/alongway.html
- “Soup” by Robert Newton Peck http://www.powells.com/biblio?isbn=9780881039269
- “Little House on the Prairie Series” by Laura Ingalls
- “The Family Under the Bridge” by Natalie Savage Carlson http://bookwormburrow.wordpress.com/2007/11/10/the-family-under-the-bridge-by-natalie-savage-carlson/
- “Little Britches” by Ralph Moody http://www.readaloud.com/britches.html
- “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott
- “Snow Treasure” by Marie McSwiggan http://karenedmisten.blogspot.com/2006/12/snow-treasure.html
- “Treasures of the Snow” by Patricia St.John http://childrensbooks.wikia.com/wiki/Treasures_of_the_Snow
We have moved several times, and my current location is not my favorite place we have lived so far. Therefore, I challenged myself to discover The 7 Wonders of My Sassafras Springs. This challenge has sent us searching and discovering fun, beautiful, fascinating, and interesting places not too far from home. (Here are links to the author’s website http://bettybirney.com/sassafras.html and the illustrators website http://mattphelan.com/books11.html)
Wonder #1 of My Sassafras Springs:
Who knew that within a 45 minute drive I could find a fountain that rivaled the size and beauty of many European fountains. On Belleville Isle (an island in the St. Clair River between Detroit and Canada) we discovered an amazing sight.
Here we are on the last day the Belle Isle Fountain was spraying water for the summer–Labor Day.
This close-up of the lion reveals the beauty of the fountain.
Not only is the marble exquisite, but look at the bronze spouting turtles!
The kids played in a side fountain where the water wasn’t flowing.
Little Man loved climbing around.
And one last parting shot of Wonder #1. Truly a wonderful find!
Wonder #2 of My Sassafras Springs: We visited the Belle Isle Fountain on the last day of summer, but on the first gorgeous day of spring, we took a Field Trip to the Wave Field at the U of M North Campus designed by Maya Lin. She is the same artist that designed The Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.
The kids had the most fun rolling, and tumbling, and crawling, and playing tag, and jumping all up, down, and over the “waves of grass.”
We tried to go back this fall, but the Wave Field is temporarily closed due to construction on the adjacent building.
I am so thankful that we discovered this Wonder #2 before it closed.
Wonder #3 of My Sassafras Springs: This Wonder is very near our home and we visit it several times a year. That doesn’t make it anymore less wonderful. It is Ford Lake with man-made islands connected by arched bridges and a raised wooden boardwalk. I posted some of these pictures in “Fall is. . .”.
At Ford Lake, we can watch swans mate, build nests, incubate their eggs, and then watch the gray little gosling swim and turn into beautiful swans. This year, we were blessed with the amazing sight of two swans taking off on their long flight south. I was too in awe to capture the moment on my camera, but the thudding of the wings, the lift-off, and the rippled water left behind are still with me.
It is in these cattails that the swans build their large nests.
Along this boardwalk in the spring, birds nest on the beams that jut out. We also can see turtles sunning on logs and a rhinestone-studded pair of pink sunglasses that Eloise dropped. We spotted them submerged for several visits before the lily pads finally hid them from view.
Wonder #4: Wonder #4 is also on the University of Michigan campus. In truth, we have not seen Wonder #4. We made an expedition to see Wonder #4, called ahead to reserve a time slot to see Wonder #4, and arrived only to be told that our message had not been communicated through the proper channels. Still wonder #4 is Wonderful. The U of M Library of Rare Books has a papyrus scroll with part of St. Paul’s writing on it in Greek dating to the third century. This Treasure is so frequently requested for viewing, that the library is working on displaying it in a permanent exhibit. From Wikipedia, here is a glimpse.
Here is a link that explains more about this amazing Biblical Treasure. The scroll is called P46-Papyrus 46. http://www.lib.umich.edu/reading/Paul/perspective.html
This link allows you to “read” the text of P46. Well, sort of. It helps you to read the text in Ancient Greek. HOWSOEVER. If you are at all interested in the how the Bible came to us, you will still appreciate this link to this Treasure. http://www.lib.umich.edu/reading/Paul/reading.html
Wonder #5: To view Wonder #5 you only have to walk out straight south from the viewing of Wonder #4. We stumbled upon Wonder #5, after we were disappointed that our appointment to see the papyrus scrolls containing Paul’s writings were not viewable that day. Wonder #5 took my breath away. It is the William Clements Library on the University of Michigan campus. Like most homeschooling moms, I am a libri anatorem collector–book lover and collector. We were drawn to the library by its name.
And once inside we stared in awe at the beautiful woodwork. This was the library of kings!
This link has an eight minute video on the William Clements Library. It is rather slow loading, but I enjoyed it. http://www.clements.umich.edu/about.php
During our visit to the William Clements Library, we entered a raffle, and both LBG (Little Big Guy) and Scout won. Scout won the book “101 Treasures from the Collections of The William L. Clements Library.” This library started as a collection of Americana original documents and expanded to include many more gems. Let me highlight a few.
- Ptolemy World Map: Okay, I just get excited just typing about this find. This map was printed back in 1486 and does not include America. “It is, essentially, the world as Europeans knew it before Columbus, and it was a map he personally knew and used.” (101 Treasures from the William Clements Library, p. 18) OH WOW! OH WOW! OH WOW!
- Columbus Letter to Queen Isabella, 1493: Unbelievable! You can see and read (in Latin) Colombus’ account of his adventures. He writes, “I did not find any monster among them, as many expected.”
- The Pirate Atlas: This is a compilation of maps pirates made (mainly of the New World) back in 1681. ARG!
- A Stolen Letter from Rachel (wife) to Paul Revere: She writes and tells Revere to put his faith in “a good God,” and says she will do likewise. Rachel gave this letter to Dr. Benjamin Church (dig deep to remember your history) who was a member of the secret group of Revolutionary leaders. As he was a spy and informer, he gave the letter to the British. This letter was purchased in England and brought to the William Clements Library.
- Oh, I could go on. There are letters from Benedict Arnold (America’s most infamous traitor), a copy of “Common Sense”, a newspaper edition of the “Declaration of Independence”, a letter to George Washington’s dentist by Washington, a first edition printing of “The Star Spangled Banner”, and so many maps.
I hope all my rambling didn’t bore you, but the beauty of the library, the kindness of the staff, and the collection of so many original documents made William Clements Library a Wonderful Wonder filled with Wonderful Books.
Wonder #6: This Wonder is a bit far afield. It is in Kalamazoo, Michigan–so about a two-hour drive. You may not think I should count this, and local readers are welcome to contest this, but I was truly WOWed, so I am sharing Wonder #6 with you. We are a flying family. My Hunni flies for a living and loves airplanes of all sorts, ergo, we visit every flying museum we pass. I have grown rather callous to air museums. I was expecting more of the same, but. . .check out these photos. Be amazed at the 360 degree mural!!!
Here is a link to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo. http://www.airzoo.org/page.php?menu_id=28
Here we are entering the Air Zoo.
A homeschooling friend stayed with us for a week.
Here are some photos of this wonderful mural by artist Rick Herter, and his assistant Tony Hendrick. Here is a link if you are interested in learning more about Rick Herter and his art. http://www.theairshowguy.com/rickherter.htm or this site http://www.aviationarthangar.com/rickherter.html
Amazing!! The mural is 3 football fields in length, and the artist used 400+ gallons of paint. He also used over 200 brushes and rollers, and it took him and his assistant 14 months to complete. It may not be the Sistine Chapel Ceiling, but it is pure aviation art at it’s best. We did have a Sistine Chapel moment, though.
The mural by Rick Herter in the Air Museum has enough wow factor to make the 7 Wonders of MySassafras Springs list even if it is rather far away.
Wonder #7: If Wonder #6 was far away, Wonder #7 is very close to home–extremely close to home. In fact, it is our home.
Just a basic, cookie-cutter, Cape Cod with plain Jane, white, aluminium siding. Nothing special about the house. The wonder of it is that we FIT here–all 6 of us. We homeschool here, and homeschooling involves LOTS of books, projects, and paraphernalia. The wonder of it is that we have survived 7 years in this small place. The wonder of it is that our neighbors are kind, interesting, people who want to share in our life. Now don’t get me wrong, I would love a much, much bigger place, but my motto is. . .
P.S. Click on the blue links if you would like to order any of these favorite read-alouds from Amazon.
Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers
Treasures of the Snow (Patricia St. John Books)
The Family under the Bridge
A Year Down Yonder
A Long Way From Chicago: A Novel in Stories
The Complete Little House Nine-Book Set
What a great idea.
Thanks so much.
It is a great idea; my current location isn’t my favorite either. I’ll be looking around for the seven wonders myself! Thanks for sharing!
I’d love to hear your list!
Hi there! I work for a landscape architecture firm in Santa Cruz, California, and we’re putting together an inspiration board for an urban development project out here. Your photo of the kids rolling around on the grassy mounds at Wave Field capture perfectly part of our design intent. Would you be willing to give us permission to use your photo? We would credit you however you like. If so, would you also happen to have the high-res image in your records that you could pass along? We would be so appreciative.
Thank you! Anne Marie
Sure! We would love to share that photo. I’m not sure I can find the original file, so I will have to look around. If you give me an email where I can contact you that would be helpful. Good luck with your landscaping inspiration board! I can be reached at email@example.com