Monday, January 28, 2013

What's on the school menu? Voles and pukak snow

It's a snow day in this part of the world.  Elementary school buses aren't running, end-of-semester high school exams are postponed by a day (giving Ponytails an extra day to study), and Dollygirl's best friend in the neighbourhood has the day off from her private school.  It isn't a beautiful, sunny snow day either; it's kind of a messy, wicked-looking, might have freezing rain kind of snow day.  But it's okay for playing inside...or not having exams.

So what's up for school today?  This morning we read a chapter of Walking with Bilbo; a couple of chapters of The Pushcart War; and Dollygirl is doing two pages about rounding off in Key to Decimals.  Then she's going over to her friend's house to play until lunch.

After lunch, we'll have chapters 38 and 39 from The Story of Greece, about the destruction of Sardis and the death of Histiaeus.
When Aristagoras reached Sparta he tried to tempt the king to help the Ionians by telling him of the wealth he might gain for himself. After Artaphernes was conquered at Sardis it would, he said, be an easy matter to go to Susa and seize the treasures of the great king. He then showed Cleomenes a thing he had never seen before—a map engraved in bronze. Aristagoras pointed out to him all the countries he might make his own if he would aid the Ionians in their revolt.

The king listened and looked, then he dismissed the Greek, promising to think over the matter. In three days he sent for Aristagoras and asked him how long it took to journey from Ionia to Susa.

"Three months," answered the messenger.

"O stranger," then said Cleomenes, "depart from Sparta before the sun goes down; thou art no friend to the Lacedaemonians when thou seekest to lead them three months' journey from the sea."
For Natural History:  a section from Jamie Bastedo's Falling for Snow.  I will probably assign some of the section as copywork or dictation.
Whether living on the shoulder of Alaska's Mount McKinley or in an engineered forest in Bavaria, small mammals dwelling under the snow depend on pukak, that warm, moist, loose layer of crystals that hugs the earth.  If the snowcover is deep enough, they may be virtually immune to predation by foxes, owls, or weasels.  Thus ensconced all winter, a vole, lemming, mouse, or shrew can effortlessly maneuver through its maze of corridors, stopping at a food cache for a nibble of berries, checking its many sentry posts at the edge of its territory, or visiting a nest chamber to groom its fur and steal a quick nap.  Never mind the bitter winds and cold snaps and predators that trouble surface-dwellers.  For these furry little critters, life is good down under.
And, I think, maybe a craft or art project for the rest of the day.

1 comment:

Kim @ Homestead Acres said...

It was a snow day for us to, with freezing rain. So we decided to take a light day and get caught up on some projects around here.