I had one teacher in junior high and high school who made studying history interesting. He was what you'd consider a "tough" teacher - you definitely couldn't get away with anything under his watch - but he was good, and he was the only teacher I ever had that shared history in such a way that I actually enjoyed it. Other than the classes I had with that one particular teacher, there are not words enough to describe just how bored I was with history. It was truly not my "thing." All those dates and names and wars and treaties and memorization......
Yes, I struggled with history. As an adult, I appreciate its significance on the world and the country we live in today (though I still couldn't recount 90% of the details that I had to memorize for my tests in school), but it's surely taken me awhile to get here.
The kind of history that I do love, and have always loved, is the kind that I can touch. The kind that isn't in a book but is right in front of me. The kind that I can see, and feel, and close my eyes and imagine that I was there, as a participant and not just an observer. I've taken some neat field trips with the kids, to places like the Pioneer Living History Museum, and Sahuaro Ranch, but they still weren't as meaningful to me personally as a piece of history that has not been restored or re-created, turned into something that's specifically meant to be educational, or designed to be a must-see attraction. It's still not the same as something that just is.
Last weekend, we joined a few other vehicles on a way-too-fun off-roading trip. We crossed rivers,
Drove down cliffs,
enjoyed the desert scenery,
stopped to appreciate an old foundation,
and met Miner Bob.
Miner Bob lives in a cabin that's been standing since the late 1800's. He graciously talked to us, showed us around, and let us wander in and out of his cabin. I loved how sturdy it still was, how simply but beautifully made. I loved knowing that it's been there, out in the middle of the desert, for over a hundred years. I loved imagining the people who once stayed there, using the fireplace, walking the land, and just living their lives. It made me think of Thoreau, and Walden, and "living deep and sucking the marrow out of life."
Now that's history. And as a side note, I loved our old home in New Hampshire for all the same reasons. Unfortunately, two of the boys missed the little impromptu visit to the past because they were off playing in this:
And getting an education of an entirely different sort :)
We caught up with everyone when we reached our destination - the teeny little old town of Cleator - where we stopped for a bite, and a beer, at the bar.
A bar that no doubt had a lot of interesting history of its own.