Sunday, April 02, 2006

Spring Break

Somehow it seems a little counterintuitive to drive 275 miles north for spring break, but that's what we did--we spent the time in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where my mother-in-law lives and moves and has her being. We go there fairly often, and the whole family usually has a great time, but whereas we all used to go in a single car, we have taken to using two cars for the trip, because it affords an excellent opportunity to separate the children from each other for nearly five hours. That is only a means to an end, however: it has the effect of allowing each parent to enjoy upwards of five hours of time not listening to the children bicker.

Once we're in Ann Arbor things quickly get back to normal. The difference is that when you're in Ann Arbor you can modify their behavior pretty much at will by saying things that you could never say in Athens. "If you really want to go to the Hands-On Museum, you'll stop bugging your brother right now." That just wouldn't work here, since we don't have a Hands-On Museum. We're rather lucky, of course, in the fact that the children seem mysteriously obsessed with things like the Hands-On Museum. One can easily imagine a world in which saying the above would elicit only a tepid "So? I hate that stupid museum." But instead it elicits cherubic behavior for upwards of ten minutes at a time.

There is also fun stuff for grownups to do. The University of Michigan has a very nice art museum right on campus, and while we were there they had a very nice exhibit of Hiroshige prints. And of course there are bookstores and coffee shops all over the place. Unfortunately for the rest of my family, however, there was also a very nice music store there, where I got myself a new trumpet. I had an old, beat-up school model that a friend gave me for my birthday in 1982, but it was literally falling apart. So when I saw the beatiful silver, professional-grade model on sale for a remarkably low price, I made the decision then and there to teach some summer school this year so as to be able to afford it. I will leave it to your imagination to determine why I describe this purchase as unfortunate for my family.

It was pretty cold in Ann Arbor, and the return to Athens brought warmer temperatures. Spring is well under way here, though the trees will be a few more weeks in budding. But the wildflowers are out, and most flowering shrubs are well on their way. Pretty soon the weather will be simply too nice to be sitting in the house practicing one's new trumpet, and my family will have reason to celebrate Easter with even greater joy than usual.

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