Discomfort and Being in the Field(trip)

The gardener was harvesting sweet potatoes at Old Salem. Yum!

Miles run today: 3

Words written in my novel so far: 56,961

Bird nests we saw yesterday: 4

My ears hurt. My head hurts. I haven’t yet recovered from yesterday’s fourth grade field trip to Old Salem.

You wouldn’t believe how loud a bus full of fourth graders can be.


What’s that you’re saying?

Sorry. I couldn’t hear you.

When we arrived in Old Salem, a 1700s-era Moravian settlement, my six little female charges for the trip clustered around me as we looked at the map. (Maps again!)

“I’m hungry!” one piped up. It was 9:30 a.m.

“Me, too,” I said. “Too bad for us, right?”

One of the little girls in my group could have turned out to be an issue. But she had an uncanny knack for spying birds’ nests in the most unlikely places. We walked through a covered bridge, and she found a dove with her baby in the rafters. We visited the old fire station, and she saw an abandoned nest in the corner. And when we stopped to wait for a couple of stragglers along the sidewalk (there were always stragglers), she found a nest tucked way, way back under some vines.

Her bird-watching was very charming. Her hunger was alarming.

She kept walking up to me, sniffing in the area of my neck and saying, “You smell like food, and I’m hungry!”

I wondered whether I smelled like a bacon cheeseburger or tiramisu, but I was afraid to ask. I was a little concerned that she might bite off my arm when I least expected it.

When a wild turkey gobble-gobbled up in front of a parked car along our route, her eyes grew big. A bird. And a source of food. I didn’t want to get in the middle of that.

“Come on, girls! Let’s go get some ice cream!” I sang out, charging forward, Mary Poppins-style.

Even Moravian settlers had a weakness for ice cream, I suppose.

We learned about sugar making, crop growing, fire eliminating, baking, fire making, tavern attending before the Temperance movement made life a whole lot less fun, and pulleys. I found out about Lattimer, an African American who devised improvements in Edison’s original lightbulb design, and the tightly-strung ropes that served as a mattress foundation, which is what “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” was referring to. I even discovered that Moravians had kitchens that were attached to the house and cellars, unlike most of the other American homes of the era.

I correctly identified mustard greens by taste and found out more than I ever wanted to know about the differences among sweet potatoes, potatoes and yams. (All, in my opinion, are yummy in my tummy.)

I felt sorry for the poor Moravians who never knew the comforts of central heating, box springs or Cadbury’s chocolate. They didn’t know what it was like to build sand castles while wearing a bikini or the joys of sweatpants.

They also didn’t have to deal with a bus full of riotous fourth graders.

My group was the last group on the bus, due to a long period of me herding catlike fourth grade girls out of the gift shop.

“Look! There are some seats at the back of the bus!” I said, pointing. Then I dropped into a seat way, way up at the front.

At least up there, no one tried to eat my arm.


30 thoughts on “Discomfort and Being in the Field(trip)

  1. What a great place for a field trip. So much history and apparently birds. It is a wonder how our species survived without all of the comforts. Maybe they were just tougher than us. Sounds like it was a great trip with a good time had by all!

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    You are a brave and good woman to accompany the kids on a field trip. At least they were girls; boys may have very well taken a bite.

    • annewoodman says:

      The differences between girls and boys are myriad. I have had boy groups and girl groups… trust me, they are equally difficult. However, I agree: the boys would have tried a bite first and dealt with the consequences later.

  3. Melissa says:

    Field trips are always interesting. Next time you get a wild hair, we can go to Old Salem without your six charges. I think you might enjoy it more…Did you eat any of the bread? Oh my. Delish.

    • annewoodman says:

      We didn’t get to eat any of the bread, but it smelled divine. It was a cool place, and yes, I think it would be nice to amble along with family and a few adults. Ahhhhh. ; )

  4. jmmcdowell says:

    You know, I’m sure that when I was a kid, we were total angels and completely well-behaved on our field trips. We listened attentively to what we were told and didn’t cause any problems.

    What do you mean you don’t believe me?! 😛

    It was a successful trip if you got some character insights from them, especially if there are children in your WIP! 🙂

    • annewoodman says:

      Hmmm. No real children in my WIP. But character study is character study, isn’t it?

      I don’t remember going on field trips where the parent was the sole leader of a group of miscreants. The ones I remember were when the teacher had a set schedule, set location and had us all pretty well figured out. Ah, those were the days! ; )

  5. vanster101 says:

    it was a fun field trip! I loved it, and all the people in my group were great!

  6. Amy Mak says:

    So funny – and I can SO relate! I especially like the hungry comments…tiramasu or cheeseburger? I’m not sure which I’d rather smell like. Will have to ponder.

  7. Sounds like a fun trip! I’ve accompanied my children on a few school trips, mostly to museums, each adult would get allocated a group of around 5 or 6 kids. What I always found was that the kids would ask me difficult questions about the things we were looking at in the museum that I wouldn’t know the answers to, and I would have to do the whole “Well, it’s not going to help you if I give you all the answers is it”.

    • annewoodman says:

      Ha! I was lucky that all of the difficult questions were directed at the “experts.” I stood by and nodded confidently.

  8. I am intrigued by that girl who couldn’t help spotting birds’ nests. By the way, this post has made me hungry 😉

    • annewoodman says:

      Please don’t eat my arm.

      The girl and the birds’ nests was so cute. I was amazed by the ones that she could spot… even under a mess of vines, she spotted a nest with two gorgeous blue eggs in it. I could barely see it even when she pointed it out.

      • gabrielablandy says:

        Impressive! I remember watching a movie with my boyfriend and he suddenly said: oh my god did you see the size of those boobs! He had to rewind and play the scene again, and there, for less than a split second, a woman passes by in the background – but she did have huge boobs, I’ll give him that 😉

    • annewoodman says:

      Birds, boobs… I guess it depends on your priorities. ; )

  9. Funny story – It brought back memories of being a camp counselor where I had to be more energetic than the kids to keep them occupied. I was always exhausted at the end of the day, and I was young then! I loved the part where you ‘smelled like food’.

    • annewoodman says:

      I can’t imagine keeping up the level of energy camp counselors must maintain. I would probably require 13 hours of sleep to remain vertical during the day!

  10. 4amWriter says:

    Fun times. I love going on field trips, despite the stress and headaches. Every year the third grade takes a walking field trip from their school through our hometown, Dover, which is like the oldest city in America (or maybe it’s just the oldest city in NH). I forget. Much of the useful info I learned on that trip has long been forgotten as I slowly try to recover from pulling children out of streets, or preventing them from climbing ancient trees, or leapfrogging over tombstones.

    Like I said. Fun times.

    • annewoodman says:

      Ha! I can totally picture that field trip. I’ve done so many now… and yes, whether it’s Dover or Old Salem or Wilmington, same thing. Wranglers, that’s what they might call us, instead of parent chaperones. ; )

  11. Ravena Guron says:

    LOL! “You smell like food.” That made me chuckle. Maybe it was your perfume? I remember trips when I was in primary school. We went to quaint English villages and the Science Museum and the London Eye and stuff. We’d take plastic bags full of food, which we could eat at any time (apparently the teachers had learned from past experiences such at yours!)

    • annewoodman says:

      OMG. They were so careful at this venue about people chewing gum or carrying drinks. I can’t imagine telling all those kids to leave their bags at the entrance and then trying to collect them afterwards!

  12. If someone told me I smelled like food my immediate reply would be “What food?” After all, if you smelled like Brussels sprouts you’d have nothing to fear.

    • annewoodman says:

      True dat. Interestingly, I’ve grown up and decided to like Brussels sprouts. But I was pretty sure my mom was trying to kill me when she used to make them, lo, those many years ago. Pure poison.

  13. “You smell like food, and I’m hungry!”

    Best line I’ve read all week.

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