Thursday, September 3, 2009

Duluth: Churches

As I have noted, N. is very interested in general in old buildings, but he is especially passionate about cathedrals and churches. Duluth, Minnesota is rich with old churches, so we spent a couple days during our July vacation driving around town to see them. Quite a few were open, and kindly people working in the church offices frequently gave us tours and answered N.'s questions. N. was thrilled to be able to go inside so many. We felt pretty seriously nerdy explaining that our 4 1/2 -year-old was interested in church buildings and would they mind if we looked around? Here are just a few highlights:

Holy Rosary Cathedral (Catholic) and Holy Rosary School, where N.'s sisters Julia and Anne attended elementary school.
St. Paul's Episcopal

And N.'s favorite, First Presbyterian. We drove by this one just about any time we went anywhere, and N. always called out, "There's that church with the open tower!" and then, after we'd learned its name, "There's First Presbyterian!" He was thrilled when, on one of the last days of our visit, we went inside and were treated to an extensive tour.

It was interesting to see N. work very hard at putting together a mental map of Duluth. He paid careful attention to the locations of favorite places and would regularly remind me that Kenwood Avenue takes you to the College of St. Scholastica (which happens to have a main building that looks like a castle), you walk that way on Skyline Parkway to get to the Marshall School, that we were getting close to the Greysolon Hotel, etc.. He is not a passive passenger!

Another (church-related) highlight of our visit was an afternoon concert given at First Covenant Church by old friends of ours, Laurie Bastian, a violinist, and Bill Bastian, a tenor. For the final piece of the program, the audience was invited to join Bill and Laurie in singing the hymn "Be Still My Soul," which we weren't familiar with, although it is prominent in Sibelius' "Finlandia." Tim bought a CD of the concert and we've listened to that last track a lot. When we got home to NC, we listened to "Finlandia" a lot, and recently Tim and N. have been working on learning the lyrics to the hymn, which are quite complicated. Yesterday between my classes I was treated to a phone concert of N. belting out the first verse. I love the serendipity of this kind of unplanned, fortuitous learning!

For his birthday, N. received several books on cathedral architecture, and he's been learning about the differences between Norman, Romanesque, Gothic (his favorite) and Renaissance styles. He also got more wooden blocks!

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