On a beautiful winter evening we were having a campfire in the snow and looking at the stars. I was pointing out constellations to the kids because I have always loved the idea that stories and pictures are painted in the night sky. John, less thrilled with mythology and mere stories, pointed out Venus, because it’s a planet and he’s got this thing about space going on. (Nope Honey, still not going to Mars!)
Talking about Venus drew us all into a technical discussion about how planets worked. John, in what I must say was basically a stroke of brilliance, turned the campfire into the sun, Clara became Mercury, Ivy Venus, John was Earth, Jane his moon and I was Mars. Off we marched around the fire in our own orbits traveling at different speeds just like the planets do. I had a bit of excitement when I traveled through an asteroid belt (brush patch) on my outer orbit and by the time John was done spinning circles while holding Jane as he orbited the sun Ivy was no longer in any doubt what planetary body the moon orbited around. Then we followed John’s directions to line up in the current planetary configuration while he re-pointed out Venus and explained why we couldn’t see Mars (I’m afraid my man knows these things because of his new quest to become an astronaut, it has me worried). It was very educational and the girls were having fun and asking more questions and I was just starting to tell John what a good idea it all was when Jane looked up at the sky and said:
“I think I see Earth!”
It was a brilliant planetary lesson, but maybe next time we need to start out with the basics!