Monday, April 08, 2024


For school today we went through the Jr. Ranger eclipse booklet, which led to some exploration of other moons in our solar system and the potential for other planets to experience eclipses. 

Then Benjamin asked for a haircut and I jumped at the opportunity before he could change his mind because...uh...he needed a haircut.

Then Benjamin and I went on a quick run, leaving Zoë to do some work on her country report. She printed out some pictures for Alexander and Phoebe to colour while she worked, which kept them very busy. Technically Rachel and Miriam were in charge, but they were diligently working on their own school work since this is Rachel's week of finals at BYU-I...and because we told Miriam that she had to finish at least one of her ASU classes before leaving for Europe. So they were home, but not interested in entertaining babies. Zoë had things covered, though!

After Benjamin and I were home and showered, we had lunch and read some eclipse poetry. Zoë was a fan of Ella Wheeler Wilcox's 'A Solar Eclipse':

In that great journey of the stars through space
     About the mighty, all-directing Sun,
     The pallid, faithful Moon, has been the one
Companion of the Earth. Her tender face,
Pale with the swift, keen purpose of that race,
     Which at Time’s natal hour was first begun,
     Shines ever on her lover as they run
And lights his orbit with her silvery smile.

Sometimes such passionate love doth in her rise,
     Down from her beaten path she softly slips,
And with her mantle veils the Sun’s bold eyes,
     Then in the gloaming finds her lover’s lips.
While far and near the men our world call wise
     See only that the Sun is in eclipse.

Wilcox used some rather rich vocabulary—gloaming, mantle, natal, pallid—so I had the kids identify words they felt were particularly meaningful...yet also that we could look up the meaning.

"Okay, pallid," I said. "What do you think this word might mean? Does the context give you any clues? Does it sound similar to any other words?"

"White," Zoë said.

"You think it sounds like the word white?"

"No. I think it means white."


And then! This child began reciting in a bold and haunting voice, "'On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door!' Poe uses that word, too, only he describes a statue instead of the moon. But statues are often made out of marble, which is pretty white, like the moon. So that's why I think it means white."

"Okay," I said. "Yes. That is some excellent deduction...ummm, yes. So, pallid also sounds like pale, doesn't it? And, indeed, if we look up the etymology, we find that the two words share the same root word. So, pallid means, like, particularly pale, or, I guess, sure, white."

Sometimes these kids surprise me. 

Of course, Zoë is a huge fan of Poe, so it's no surprise, really, that she pulled that line out. But still. 

Anyway, we read through some poems and discussed form and imagery and vocabulary...and then the doorbell rang. Our next door neighbour attends a charter school rather than a public school, so while the public school kids were back in school today, she still had the day off. 

It was almost time for the eclipse to begin, anyway, so I let Zoë and Alexander go outside to play and begin their observations while Benjamin got started on his math work.

A new word for me today was syzygy. I'm going to try to work it into a poem later (I've been writing a haiku a day for the whole month of April so far (that is, for one week)). 

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