Letter to My Daughter, March 30 1849

photo courtesy of Coloma Outdoor Discovery School

Today we sent The Pea off on a 3-day school trip to the Coloma Outdoor Discovery School. For the next 3 days she'll be hiking, baking cornbread, panning for gold, and learning about life during the Gold Rush times. It's a fabulous opportunity for her to gain some hands-on learning, not to mention a sense of responsibility and independence.

To further immerse the kids in their experience, parents are asked to write two letters to their children. The letters will be given to the kids at bedtime, one letter for each night they're away. We're supposed to pretend it's 1849 and our children are actually away in the gold fields. Apparently some parents really go all out to the point of aging the paper they write on.

I won't pretend I didn't think about soaking my paper in a tea bath to give it that yellowed look, but I didn't have time, so I had to content myself with sealing the envelope with sealing wax and a signet stamper (hopefully that will merit a few "cool" points among her friends). Here's what I wrote for Day 1:

May 30, 1849

Dearest Daughter

I hope you have enjoyed your first day at Coloma! As a Greenhorn, I hope you have been listening to your Sourdough guides. And as a young lady, please remember that you are not to expose your fair skin to the sunlight and wear your sunbonnet, otherwise your skin will become too rough and dark, and you might not be able to catch a husband! Try not to soil your hands or make them rough with men's work, and concentrate on washing the laundry, baking cornbread, and practicing other tasks that will prepare you to become a good wife.

Of course, if this were 2011, I would advise you to learn all you can and not worry about getting married, and don't let the boys have all the fun! :) Oh, alright, go ahead and don't confine yourself to “Women's Work” (just don't tell anyone because you know it's not proper for a lady to be thinking these things in 1849). I hope you find lots of gold to take home to your Paw and me, so we can finally sell this farm and stop getting up at 5AM to milk cows and plant cotton.

With much love,

Thanks to numerous sleepovers and Girl Scout camping trips, The Pea is used to spending the night in the wilderness, away from us. But I hope this letter helps her go to bed knowing that we're thinking of her. And I hope she knows we don't care if she comes back without any gold, as long as she comes back with a smile on her face. And with my digital camera safe and sound.

1 comment:

Kim Moldofsky said...

My son is headed away for two days as part of his school's Outdoor ed program, but I have to say this sounds way cooler. I love the letter from home idea. But if I had a daughter, I'm sure I wouldn't be able to give the advice you did without sticking in my modern two cents.