Search This Blog

Monday, April 16, 2012

Where are the April Showers?

Today begins week 4 without any rain at all. Some places in the county have had a little, but my end is closer to the medium yellow than the pale - and it is not a good feeling.  April is often a dry month, welcome for giving the ground a chance to drain a little as the forest leafs out. But that is only after the long dreary rains of March and we hope for some nice soaking showers in May to bolster us up for the hot summer sunshine. Not this year. There are places at the edge of our yard where the leaves underfoot are crunchy! And we shall not even discuss the pollen - beyond saying it kept me indoors all day yesterday. Good thing I can go to the gym today. I usually count on nice long hikes in the woods on the weekends but I wasn't going anywhere in that yellow dusted wind. And with 90 degree days - I can either open the windows and get pollen covered furniture or shut them and swelter. I wonder if any of my Canadian friends could ship me a box of snow.....

Okay - enough complaining about the weather. It won't change things and it doesn't make me feel better to vent. I'm sure it only piles up more complaints like so many cumulus clouds and ... if those clouds don't plan on raining on my little inch of the world, I'd just as soon not see them. Instead I will talk about ... Bess' Girls' Camp - which is an intermittent warm weather gathering that happens down here on the farm whenever there are girls in the family who want to come play with my toys. I have the best toys and I share. This past weekend I had Cousin F for a few days. A soul-mate gift from the heavens, Cousin F never needs me to explain things. Her eyes sparkle, that little smile appears, and we are off on an adventure - be it knitting or reading or making things. Her generous parents lend her to me whenever I have a serious girl deficit. On Saturday her family drove down from the city to pick her up and we got all the girls (and LD) going on High Seas - a board game BD invented when my step-son was about 10 - low these 35 or 36 years ago. It consists of a map of the world with 100 seaports identified. They're linked across oceans by sea lanes divided into 300 mile increments. You are given a merchant ship and a home port at the start of the game. You then draw a destination card for one of the ports and roll the dice to see how much you'll earn when you get there. All movement is decided by dice rolls - cargo, speed of movement and warfare. As you accumulate riches you can buy more merchant ships and as long as you still hold the card for the seaport your ship is in it is in a safe haven. But as the game progresses you - or your opponent - can purchase a naval station and build a navy - which can be predatory or defensive or any combination thereof. A navy ship can blockade ports. It can attack other naval vessels. It can prevent passage into or through important areas of the globe. Once one player has a navy other players tend to escalate their military might as well. Great swings in fortune occur at this point because without a mercantile base, the unwieldy military dwindles through warfare and defeat. A final option occurs if you are loosing badly - Piracy! Yes. You can turn pirate and devastate the board.  Pirates can't earn any cargo but they can capture merchant ships on the high seas and they can battle naval ships. They always loose on a tie and they're not allowed to move in tandem, if you gang up a bunch of them on the same spot. In fact, the only artificial rule in the game is that pirates are not allowed to win. Should pirates wipe out every other ship on the board - they still 'lose'.

It's a wonderful game that teaches strategy and geography all at the same time. It also takes about 2 and a half times longer than a game of monopoly so ... unless there is an avid and probably 10 year old enthusiast - it doesn't get played that much. We've lent the game out to a few families, over the years but now that we have girls visiting again it was laid out on the dining room table and we went at it.

In the end - Cousin F was Master of the High Seas - this time.

And now it's Monday and I have a gazillion things to do, including a school tour of the library at 8:45! How do people get to work so early?!?


1 comment:

  1. Terrific map resource. You certainly have been having very dry weather, and baking hot. The Pacific storms have no hope of reaching you. Darn! Our dry season is coming soon enough.

    That game sounds very entertaining, particularly the pirate aspects.