Monday, July 30, 2012

Seven days of summer

We just experienced seven days of sunshine here in England.  I feel a petty and ridiculous need to document it, but there it is.  Our summer sunshine finally came.  It lasted for seven days.  Then it started raining.  Again.

I think something must happen to a person's brain when they're required to live through three and a half months of crappy, wet weather that encroaches into the middle of summer.  It's no secret that it rains in England; you can sense it in the British mindset-- keep calm, carry on, stiff upper lip and all that.  But this year, even the locals are weary.  When we heard the jet stream shifted and there was the barest glimmer of hope that England might actually see some sunshine, the locals hesitated.  They only spoke about it in whispers, as if mentioning the possibility aloud would jinx it.

I can't blame them.  England had floods and tornadoes and Texas-sized hailstorms this year.  I kid you not.  Hail the size of baseballs fell on Leicester, a city that has me stumbling over the pronunciation like a true American.  We had hail at our place too.  Not rip-the-roof-and-siding-off-your-house-and-crack-the-birds-out-of-the-trees hail, like the kind that destroyed our house in Texas eight years ago.  Leicester got that kind.  But still, our hail was big enough to shred the carport roof.

If truth be told, that was my last straw with this England summer and the impetus to pack bags and head to Italy.  England saw rain the entire week we were gone, and the weather was just as miserable when we returned.   It was oddly validating, that weather.  But remarkably, a week later the sun came out.  We went from mid-60s to mid-80s, and there was nary a cloud in the sky.  It felt unprecedented.  All that complaining and whining and pouting was for naught.  Summer came, and I actually felt guilty for running off to Italy.  I felt guilty for my impatience with England while everyone in the US was enduring sweltering heat.  I felt guilty for my indulgence.

Well, seven days of sunshine does not a summer make.  While the clear skies held out just in time for the Olympic opening ceremony, the weather turned chill yesterday.  The dark clouds rolled in, and the sky opened up.  Surely  it was all that drumming at the ceremony.  If anything was going to beg for more rain, why not that?

Now that my Italian-holiday guilt has passed, damped down even further by today's intermittent downpours, I'm ready to share a few more pictures of our week in Italy to bring my tally of sunshiny summer days to a whopping grand total of 14.  After leaving the medieval, hilltop village we boarded two trains and stepped off the tracks in a very special place.

Venice, the city of light.

It was also a city in the possession of immense power and influence during the late middle ages to the renaissance, so it was a bit of a homeschooling field trip to boot.  But I'm not going to feign that my intentions were purely educational-- it's Venice!  It has been on my list of places to visit for as long as I can remember.

Perhaps it was a combination of the sun and the wine and the reflective quality of the water, but it left me speechless.  I'm not even going to try to capture it in words.  And the pictures hardly do it justice.

Venice by day.

Venice by night.

We saw the sights... including the Piazzale San Marco.

We saw the gondolas... and then had a little ride.

 It even rained once, and hard, for about fifteen minutes.

But even that wasn't terrible.  We hid out under an alcove and waited for it to stop.  And then the kids splashed happily in the Venetian puddles.  Without wellies.  A week without wellies felt celebratory, indeed.

Accidentally showing up in the middle of the Venetian Festa del Redentore means that Venice comes with fireworks.  Completely unplanned.  Incredibly amazing.  Fortuitous and resplendent.

It made up for the terrible English weather and then some.


  1. Pronunciation of English place names can be challenging for Americans, it seems (but it does trip up the English as well at times) - and a week of sunshine does an English summer make (if you ask most English people) :0D we normally see a week of sun in May and declare that that was summer.

    Venice looks so beautiful - it's canals probably beat Leicester's hands down :0)

    1. I don't think we saw a lick of sun in May this year. If English summers are normally this paltry, this desert girl should probably start taking Vit D supplements. Or save up for more trips to Italy... ;)

    2. Hmmm, you may well miss desert summers! English summers are a standing joke, but we do get some lovely weather at times and it makes the warm sunny weather all the more precious!

      I'd also really like to edit my first post and take out that stray apostrophe *sigh*.

  2. I don't mean to be a party pooper, but I have to ask: does Venice still smell off like it did in 1986 when I was there? ;D

    Your photos are BEAUTIFUL!! I can almost forget the smell and replace my memories of it with yours. LOL!

    I grew up in a Common Wealth country (Canada) and I still get tripped up by British words. I do, however, practice a lot with saying "Worcestershire sauce" all the time. Hah! We all have a hearty laugh when we watch Chopped on Food Network and the contestants can't pronounce that word.

    1. Oh no! I read about the smell-- was it really so bad when you were there? We spent a lot of time sketching canalside, and it smelled just fine. A few of the tiny alleyways maybe had a little bit of a funk coming off of them, but nothing too overwhelming. I wonder if we were just lucky, or if this means you're entitled to a Venice re-do. ;)

      As for Worcestershire, we purposely slaughtered that pronunciation when we were kids just to drive my half-English dad crazy. We were bad kids, what can I say. ;)

  3. Wonderful trip! Too bad it wasn't two weeks. :-P xo

  4. Wow! How utterly beautiful. I've never been to Venice. I think I'll put it on my wish list.

    1. You would love it. It's a cheap flight, too-- maybe when you come visit you guys can just pop over there? :D

  5. Hi Sara,
    My name is Emilia, I discovered your blog today and I can say it's really cool. By the way Venice looks amazing. I am brand new to Waldorf and what I love about your style (from what i read today) is that it is very relaxed.I like Waldorf but there are things i dont really agree with and i felt uncomfortable at the idea of not following the "thing" 100% (sometimes i am afraid of "damaging" my Alex, 1 year old, by not following completely an educational system, silly me, right?)You imagine my relief while reading your blog -not many Waldorf bloggers confess their "sins":)
    i went through your topics but could not find many things on what you did for your sweet boy -in point of Waldorf education. Can u pls help me with a few suggestions or many recommend some of your articles that i skipped?
    thx in advance and once again congrats for the style, it rocks :)
    your newest reader

    1. Welcome Emilia, and thank you for the very sweet comments. :)

      I am shocked to hear that I have "sins." ;) Really, I am the first to admit that I'm not a Waldorf purist. In fact, if you peel back the top layer, I don't think anyone really is. I think it's unrealistic, and ultimately, our children require more from us than to be Waldorf cookie-cutter parents. We all bring something unique to the table-- that's why our children picked us. They learn just as much from our quirks and our faults than they do from our perfectly-executed finger plays.

      While I do think that Rudolf Steiner was a genius, like anything else, we have to take him with a grain of salt. We're applying ideas that he came up with almost a century ago, sometimes ideas which have been morphed, misinterpreted, or mistranslated. Many of those ideas are still awesome, but the reality is that none of us can be 100% anything. And every parent is worried about damaging their kids-- I think we're hot-wired to second guess ourselves every step of the way. We will definitely mess them up, all parents do, so the best we can do is to just love them. Love trumps everything.

      I am just beginning first grade work with Kitty Bill, my sweet boy, in a couple of weeks, and I'm definitely looking forward to sharing his journey. I don't think I've ever really blogged much about pre-k or kindergarten-type stuff because to me that's just part of life and being together, but maybe I should. Is that the kind of thing you're looking for?

  6. Hi again,
    We have been on holiday so sorry for my late reply, yeap i am interested in pre-k stuff as there seems to be an emphasis on keeping the child within a dream like realm until he is 7. i am trying to understand this idea but sometimes i have problems with it :)
    keep in touch


Thank you for taking the time to leave a message. I appreciate your sweet words so much!

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