wonder. N. a feeling of amazement and admiration, caused by something beautiful, remarkable or unfamiliar.
Even before the anklebiters (and perhaps more so now that they’re here), I have tried to relish in the serendipity of the everyday. The chance to see or experience how the world unfolds in the great outdoors. Both manmade and natural. Framing the world through these eyes has more than once urged others to see the world anew. “You see things differently.” Sure, it started in childhood because how could we not be impressed with water flowing from the sink or wind rustling through the trees or the tickling softness of a brown black caterpillar about to feast on the strawberry reserved for mum’s special treat? Somewhere along the line, boys and pop music and jolly ranchers obscured the vision but added alternative bouts of wonder. But an eighth grade English teacher re-invigorated these eyes, asking to scribble thoughts in a weeklong exercise of observation. And observe I did. The skies opened up with sherbet surprises announcing dusk. Silhouettes of Joshua trees square-danced in the moonlight. I remembered to look up and out and I haven’t stopped. I’ve been lucky. I haven’t lost the art of wonder.
This week’s book is the graphic corollary to my research. Children are experiential beings; they interact with the stimulus around them. Walking is just not walking it is truly the art of wonder. Sidewalk Flowers (or here abroad known as Footpath Flowers) written by JonArno Lawson and illustrated by Sydney Smith visually entertains such ideas. It is a graphic novella sans words and follows the neighbourhood escapade of a father and daughter. Daughter is enrobed in a red hooded jumper that contrasts with the black and white depictions of the neighbourhood. As Father and Daughter traverse the footpath, passing busstops, shopfronts, park benches, the scenery starts blooming. Colours slowly filter in as Daughter gathers flowers during the jaunt and redistributes such gems. Unbiased kindness as Daughter touches physically and metaphorically the lives she encounters all whilst Father projects an oblivious air as adults often do.
bus stop musings
Ankle biter 1 sat through a reading. He didn’t seem impressed Although he did like the canine cameo. “Will he eat (the flowers)? Or is he saving them for later?” Without spoiling too much, he did have questions about the distribution of Daughter’s flowers in the park. I think this one is more for adults or older children than anklebiters. I enjoyed it immensely for all my ranting above. Being surrounded by children and seeing what they are seeing- truly, I cannot help but be immersed in wonder. Truth be told, you don’t need children to be amazed with what’s around you. Get out of your car and open your senses. Skill yourself in this art of wonder because it really isn’t lost it’s just unused.
“It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and honourably and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely and honourably and justly without living pleasantly.”
“What you learn today, for no reason at all, will help you discover all the wonderful secrets of tomorrow.”
-Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth
is temporarily stifled beneath snow.
Um, yes snow. We are nearing the end of April and I am watching snow flurries drift across the window. The ankle biters are besides themselves. “Snowmen. Snowballs. Dig Dig Dig!” That’s West Yorkshire for you. And I take a moment to remind myself why I love my husband and the choices we make. My toes are cold but I do have a warm cuppa cocoa.
It’s been a bit quiet round these parts not because I haven’t been reviewing books to stimulate my budding urbanists. Every day we read intriguing ones (like this one or this one) and really awful ones (honestly, I save you from the turmoil and don’t post on such books). Suffice to say, visiting family have been welcomed distractions. But it’s now back to some semblance of routine (insert happy dance).
To get back into the groove of things, I’d like to introduce you to Red Ted and the Lost Things by Michael Rosen illustrated by Joel Stewart. Like the tried and true Courduroy, Red Ted starts without a caretaker. Unlike Courduroy, Red Ted is mistakenly abandoned at a train station and initiates his gumption to find his way home to his beloved Stevie. He befriends pessimistic Crocodile. Together, they navigate their way from the vaults of the lost and found, through the tunnels of the train station and onto the business of the streets. Here they befriend Cat who upon sniffing Red Ted and detecting a distinct cheese smell guides them to an identical diffusing cheese shop. Alas, the very cheese shop where Red Ted’s beloved Stevie lives. A great introduction to graphic novels, Stewart provides monochromatic panels punctuated by the vibrancy of the main characters, Red Ted, Crocodille and Cat.
train depot lost & found
the scent of the city
Ankle biter 1 is at the stage where he has firm attachments to his own furry inanimates. During each reading though, Ankle biter 1 clutches Brownie and George with a bit more fervour. I think he likes the fact that his furry inanimates can have fantastic adventures in the great yonder but still find their way home. Oh and he liked the bit about the cheese. Me? C’mon- public transport! And the myriad of stories attached to THINGS LEFT BEHIND. Everyone has stories. We have stories. We wish our beloved beanies would find their way home. In addition to that, the scent of the city that lingers in the story. It could be could have been bread, coffee, sewers, exhaust.. But cheese, lovely delectable cheese. The delight of a local cheese shop. The captivation that citites, neighbourhoods, homes have their own unique aroma. The confirmation that scents embed memories and connect us to place. Even if it is buried beneath the snow.
“The real voyage of discovery and change does not consist in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
Ankle biter 2 is coming into his own. These next 6 months, we feel, are the magic months- where curiosity and joy prove paramount certainly before the other emotions overwhelm.
What we heard: the laughter of ankle biter 1 as he ran ahead instigating a game of chase
What we tasted: the leftover pulverised bitumen dusting the steps
What we smelled: freshly mowed lawn, the tempting scent of summer
What we touched: the wingtips of a swarm of pigeons as they swooped across Hitchcock style
What we saw: his strong but chubby fingers octopus hold my ring finger to tread down the hill to stop, point and say “Flower”
For every door that closes… we said goodbye to one relative and hello to another. The sun has overcomed its shyness and is showering us with gorgeous rays. More time outside and more time for saunters.
What we heard: the endless siren of the ambo
What we tasted: the asphalt, after tripping during a zigzag along the yellow lines
What we smelled: the sweetness of the overhanging pink buds
What we touched: each other’s hands: his softly plump, mine sunkissed too long
What we saw: The enormous orange excavator scooping hunks of earth into a rock crusher