Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Volcano - Shout at a teacher.

Volcanoes are extinct in the United Kingdom. The last activity I can find took place off the County Antrim coast in Northern Ireland about sixty million years ago. Described as an intense eruption, the after-event gave us the vast collection of hexagonal basalt columns named Giant’s Causeway. And that was it until both my children, at separate times, reached Year 7 Science homework.

The task was to construct a mountain from papier mache and demonstrate an active volcano by mixing the correct amounts of vinegar and baking soda in a suitable vessel placed in the open centre of the mountain.

Child Number One, academically gifted, refused point blank to waste time doing baby-work building a mountain, but understood the chemistry and was happy enough to experiment and get the volcanic mix right. At my most diplomatic, I tried to explain the situation to a non-listening science teacher whose lack of interest was rude, to say the least. My reaction, when my patience ran out, was scarily close to a volcanic eruption. Not for the first time and certainly not the last, I wished this child had agreed to my choice of school, where I couldn’t imagine ever having to shout down a corridor at a teacher’s back.

Four years later and Child Number Two, enjoying the creative aspect of the task, built a remarkable papier mache mountain that we thought would never, ever dry out in time to be painted. Luckily, the dampness didn’t spoil the effect. It looked really impressive with various shades of grey merging into black for shadows and silver for definition with lots of brown and green at ground-level. This artwork, which had taken time and thought was ruined by the erupting volcano, resulting in a very upset child mopping up fizzing, colourful streams. The perfect experiment was of no consolation.


My choice of poem is A Still Volcano Life  by Emily Dickinson


A still – Volcano – Life -
     That flickered in the night -
     When it was dark enough to do
     Without erasing sight -
A quiet – Earthquake Style -
     Too subtle to suspect
     By natures this side Naples –
     The North cannot detect

The Solemn – Torrid – Symbol –
     The lips that never lie –
     Whose hissing Corals part – and shut –
     And Cities – ooze away –


Thanks for reading, Pam x