With a half-tank of gas, we headed twenty minutes west to the little town of Prairie Grove, named after the big battle that saved Missouri from the Confederates (according to the text in the museum). Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park is impressive with many nicely preserved or redone buildings, weapons, photographs, and trails.
Most battle sites we've been to consist mostly of a discursive plaque and a grassy hill that requires a lot of imagination. But we stayed four hours at this site and never wanted for things to do or see. It was a glorious day--cool wind, blue sky, warm sun, a few red and orange leaves here and there, soft grass full of husky black walnuts and big, thumpy acorns, and two boys in the best of moods.
Every bloomin' historic site, no matter how tangentially related to the Civil War, has got one of these cannons. There was even an Andy Griffith show about it.
And being a child who likes and seeks out military history, Woody has seen more cannons in his lifetime than probably most kids since the days of the Civil War itself. He loves firearms. The more powerful, the better. With this one, we got to talk about rifling, and how that bit of technology was a huge advantage for the Union troops since their shots went farther with more accuracy. He knows about diameter from barrels and shots. He gets the physics of explosives.
The "dog trot" house was a favorite. Woody thought it was crazy that people almost never used to let their dogs inside with them. We touched on vernacular architecture when we talked about this design being early air conditioning, drawing the breeze through the house to cool folks off.
I have come to realized that our best outings to places like this--historical sites, museums, science centers, art museums, "educational" places--happen when I take the boys' lead and really get into it myself. So, we don't rush. We explore or just hang out at certain spots until they want to move on. And I linger and take pictures of things I like while they play. I read plaques when it seems appropriate or to be able to answer questions, and when I notice or discover things, I do share a lot of "Hey, wow! Look at this!" kind of comments, but I think any of us would do that anyway if we went somewhere new and neat with a friend.
On the way out, I pilfered from the herb garden a handful of calendula seeds from spent flowers, which I hope to use to start a little flower garden in front of our house in the spring.