“Did you hear that?” I looked around anxiously. “I swear I just heard a bear growl.”
“What are you taking about, Abigail?” Zack asked me, making a crazy sign with his finger around his ear. He turned to his twin brother. “Did you hear anything, Jacob?”
“I don’t think so,” Jacob replied, cupping his ear to hear better. “Nope. Nothing.”
“I wish Abigail really did hear a bear,” Zack said with a yawn. I could see his tonsils. “We could use some excitement. I’m bored,” he moaned, stretching his arms and yawning again.
“Me too,” Jacob added, sighing. “This isn’t how I wanted to spend the afternoon.”
Usually, I love Mr. Caruthers’s assignments. Jacob and Zack are always excited by social studies too. But today’s project was cartography. And as far as I could tell, there was nothing more dull in the entire universe.
Mr. C had explained that cartography is the art of making maps. We were supposed to draw in a journal an accurate map of the shallow creek bed that runs behind our school. He told us to pay special attention to the direction of the creek and which way the water flowed.
Next to the map, we had to describe any plants and animals we saw. Mr. C even said we needed to sketch little pictures of the bugs we found.
This was definitely the most horrible project in the whole history of social studies.
There were four of us in our cartography group: Jacob, Zack, Bo, and me. Only Bo was interested in the class project. He was standing near a bush and holding the long iron chain Mr. C had given us. “Abigail,” he called, “would you mind holding one end of this chain against that rock over there?”
Mr. C had told us the iron chain was called a two-pole chain. A “pole” is a unit of measurement equal to sixteen and a half feet. Each link was 7.92 inches. The whole chain was thirty-three feet long. Bo liked using the two-pole chain. By counting the links, he could figure out exactly how far it was from the bush to the rock and then put them both on our map.
I didn’t really want to, but I went to help Bo anyway. “It could be worse,” I remarked to Jacob and Zack. Looking over my shoulder, I glanced over at the rest of our social studies classmates wandering around the creek bed. “Eliana Feinerman’s group didn’t even get a chain to measure stuff. They have two sticks and a bunch of rocks.”
“Yeah,” Jacob replied. “And Shanika Washington’s group has it real bad too. They have to make a new map by copying and correcting an old one from the school library.”
I picked up the end of the chain and placed it against the rock. Bo dragged the other end to the bush. “Well,” I commented, watching Bo stretch the chain tight, “at least Bo’s having fun.”