Thursday, 23 August 2012

Beautiful writing

Today, the last day of our time in PEI, was spent at Green Gables.  While the name itself screams all things Anne, the site in reality pays homage to the author of those fabulous books – L.M. Montgomery.  For, as you may know, the tales of Anne, Green Gables, and Avonlea, are all fictional.  Despite that, L.M. Montgomery drew many of the landscapes from close to home.  Green Gables itself is based on the home her aunt, uncle and cousins lived in while she lived with her grandparents.  It was from this site that she conjured up Lover’s Lane and the Haunted Woods.  And today, we walked the same paths that she immortalized.

Like any walking trail in a national park, there were signs along the paths intended to provide more insight to those who seek it.  The difference here though, is that most of the information shared is taken from L.M. Montgomery’s writings – from letters, journals, and books – rather than from a field guide.  As I read the passages out loud to the children, I sighed at the incredible beauty in how she wrote.  How trees, or a brook, or a breeze, could become the fancy of fairies.  How simple things could transform into whimsical things in a magical land.  It was indeed inspiring.

The park had an activity book the children could use to get more meaning out of their visit.  And it was through these activities that I saw my children see the world in a different way.  As we walked through the Haunted Wood, my children stilled themselves so they could hear the creaks and groans of the spruce trees as they swayed in the breeze.  We talked about imagining walking the path in the dark…what if we were walking along the edge of the path and our leg brushed against a branch – what would we think it was?  What sounds would we hear if it was evening – would it be different than the sounds we were hearing during the day?  How would we feel if we looked up and the moon and stars were blotted out by the forest above?  After we finished our lunches, my children put together the bones for a ghost story, inspired by our walk in the Haunted Wood.  Later, on our stroll down Lover’s Lane, they found a quiet place to close their eyes and experience the world through their other senses…what they could hear, what they could smell, and what they could feel.  They heard the brook gurgling and the rustle of leaves.  They could feel the coolness on their skin.  They could describe this to me. 

It was as we sat by the brook and looked for trout that I thought to myself what a blessing it was for L.M. Montgomery to live in a rural setting.  How could one describe a brook as babbling or the sigh of the wind in the trees if those subtle sounds were drowned out by sirens and traffic?  How could one revel and appreciate and sing the praises of the beauty of the natural world if they were surrounded by unnatural things?  How can a mind find the space to quiet itself so the realm of imagination can be entered into if it is always under pressure to be “on call”?  Naturally, after I asked these questions, I wondered about how to provide similar opportunities for my children.  I think we are already on the path, and I wonder if there is more I can do.  Like even more time outdoors.  Like taking a moment out of every field trip to close our eyes and take in the view with our other senses.  Like more chats where we use our imaginations to conjure up a story in our surroundings.  Like continuing to read beautiful writing, so that it seeps into our conscience and our bones and becomes second nature when we ourselves put pen (or pencil) to paper.

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