A Monday Morning Poem

When I was little my dad read me poems from When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne. (He’s the guy who wrote the Winnie-the-Pooh stories, F.Y.I.) Then, I loved “Vespers,” “Halfway Down” (which still resonates with me, but maybe for different reasons), and “Rice Pudding.” This weekend I found myself thinking of these poems and I pulled the book from my bookshelf. My mom always wrote the date we got books on the inside front cover. This one said “For Julia 2/10/84.” I wasn’t even a month old.

Last night this one poem jumped out at me. So I thought I’d share. Because today’s Monday and I think everyone could use a little nostalgia on a Monday morning.

Spring Morning
A.A. Milne

Where am I going? I don’t quite know.
Down to the stream where the king-cups grow –
Up on the ill where the pine-trees blow –
Anywhere, anywhere. I don’t know.

Where am I going? The clouds sail by,
Little ones, baby ones, over the sky.
Where am I going? The shadows pass,
Little ones, baby ones, over the grass.

If you were a cloud, and sailed up there,
You’d sail on water as blue as the air,
And you’d see me here in the fields and say:
“Doesn’t the sky look green today?”

 

Where am I going? The high rooks call:
“It’s awful fun to be born at all.”
Where am I going? The ring-doves coo:
“We do have beautiful things to do.”

If you were a bird, and lived on high,
You’d lean on the wind when the wind came by,
You’d say to the wind when it took you away:
That’s where I wanted to go today!”

Where am I going? I don’t quite know.
What does it matter where people go?
Down to the wood where the blue-bells grow –
Anywhere, anywhere. I don’t know.

 

Merry Chrismakah

“Well, are you coming?” asks the conductor.
“Where?”
“Why to the North Pole of course! This is the Polar Express!”

Every Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember my dad read The Polar Express to me and my brother before we went to bed. Then we’d put out cookies for Santa and a carrot for his reindeer, and we’d crawl into bed. I have the entire book memorized and I adore it. I love all of the illustrations, though my favorite has to be the one where all of the children are drinking hot chocolate in the train car. The colors are so rich and warm that I feel like, even though they all jumped onto a strange train with a strange man, they are perfectly safe. One year when we woke up on Christmas morning, I found a worn bell that looked suspiciously like a sleigh bell on Santa’s cookie plate. My parents said they had no idea where it came from, but their best guess was that Santa had left it for me. I treasured it.

These days my parents continue The Polar Express tradition at the store. They have the book, a portable DVD player with the movie, and a little basket of bells sitting on a table near the door. With each bell they have written this message, “Our wish is that this bell will always ring for those who listen. That the sweet sound reminds us of the true miracles of the holiday season, be they of this world or not” along with this quote from the end of book,


At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. 
Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. 
Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all those who truly believe.

I don’t believe in Santa Claus anymore, but I have that sleigh bell that was left on our cookie plate years ago. It’s hanging on the doorknob of my apartment door. More than Santa though, I still believe in that magic and the miracles of this time of year. Maybe that’s why I can still hear my bell ring.

Tonight I’m having dinner with my family and Adam’s family. Then I’m going to go home and read my own copy of The Polar Express that Bette gave me two Christmases ago (which was one of the best gifts I have ever received). I don’t expect Santa or any make-believe magic like that; only the same safe feeling that I have when I look at that one picture in the book, and the magic of stopping to listen and hearing the bell ring. I hope you guys (the few of you who may read this!) have a happy holiday too!

100 years of imagination

This year my favorite redheaded girl, Anne Shirley, turns 100. A 100th anniversary edition was published in February with original cover art and what appears to be a mostly original version of the manuscript, not perfectly edited and all:) I’m tempted to buy it, just as a tribute to my childhood and my favorite books growing up. Anne was my absolute hero between the ages of probably 9 and 15. I read every one of the books in the series probably at least 10 times. Anne’s wild and free imagination only encouraged my already overactive imagination. I spent countless hours wandering through the woods behind my house, naming trees and paths and special spots, just like Anne did.

I haven’t really thought a whole lot about these books recently but now that I am I’m realizing that maybe they had more of an effect on me than I knew. I read an article about the series today that focuses mostly on what kind of a heroine Anne is and if she fits into today’s feminist heroine. Today’s novels, young adult and otherwise, seem to be filled with high powered, highly motivated and driven girls and women. They are cut throat, whether it be while climbing the social ladder in school or the corporate ladder in the work world. Anne doesn’t fit into this world at all. Her world appears almost antiquated in comparison. She abandons the real world for her imagination far too often and she gives up her ambitions to be a writer to raise a family.
I must agree with the Slate article in thinking there’s more to these books than flowery descriptions of nature, a sentimental story about an orphan winning over a town, and a young woman giving up her dreams for her husband and family. Anne has an incredible independent streak. She does what she wants and says what she thinks. Of course that ends up getting her in trouble lots of the time and the great thing is that when it upsets or hurts the people she cares about she goes to great lengths to fix things. She doesn’t let the class cutie, Gilbert, turn her to mush, at least not until he almost dies and she realizes she just can’t live without him (that book, Anne of the Island, was my favorite, especially as I got older, because of its sweet romantic undercurrent.) Anne’s imagination must encourage her readers to get lost in their own imaginary worlds. It certainly did for me. I loved disappearing into books and creating and acting out stories in my backyard. Anything that gets kids away from already completely fabricated stories on t.v. and mindless video games gets five stars in my book.
Now back to the feminist aspect of Anne. I strongly believe that a girl should be told she can do anything she wants. She should be able to go out there and have the same career as any man, she should be given the same respect and women have worked very hard to get close to that point today. I also strongly believe that if we look at media in general today that is all girls are being fed. High power, high fashion women dominate t.v. and books. They run around big cities in their Jimmy Choos and whatever other fashionable shoes they can buy, frantically trying to make it. Young adult novels and t.v. shows seem filled with these images too. Girls fight to be in the top clique in school, kids vie for the best and hottest internships that will launch their careers.
What’s wrong with Anne’s path? Girls could use a reminder that they have more choices and that they do not have to pick the crazy career over the family. Now I sound super old fashioned or something. I am all for having a job, a career, making my own money. Eventually though I would be the happiest girl if I could just stay at home with my kids and raise them. That, in my opinion, is an incredibly admirable job. Anne goes to college, something not too many young women did in her day, she even works for a bit until Gilbert is ready to get married. Then she takes on the job of raising her six kids to be imaginative, independent people just like herself. Through everything she faces each and every challenge head on and with a positive attitude. Why not remind today’s youth of the importance of that? Why not remind them to slow down, be yourself, think for yourself and enjoy the beauty in the world around you? I think the Anne of Green Gables books are timeless and are filled with lessons and characters that I can still relate to as a 24 year old in 2008.
Hum, this all sounded very logical and well thought out in my head. God only knows if it ended up that way. Let’s just finish with the statement that I am a huge advocate of the imagination and anything that encourages it.

fairy princess with an edge

i don’t think we ever grow out of our insecurities. For awhile I thought that the older we got the less we worried about what other people think of us we would be. She’ll always worry about seeing her old high school crush at a friend’s wedding, even though she’s happily married, has a house and a great job. She’ll always avoid people she knows because small talk makes her uncomfortable and she’s sure they’re laughing at her back as she walks away. It comforts me to know that I’m not the only one who is still like this.
Work might be frustrating me. I might feel invisible sometimes.
I miss North Carolina a lot these days. I am not unhappy here nor do I regret moving back. The exact opposite in fact. I’m just lucky enough to have two homes and when I am in one my heart is in the other. I also miss Bette and am not sure why she had to go so far away that I cannot reach her by cell phone. Upsetting that I cannot share random goodness with her. Email is not the same.
I recently finished the most amazing book I have ever read, Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen. This book literally changed my life and I beg you to read it. In fact I will buy it for you. It honestly deserves some sort of review but I’ve lent it to Sam so that will have to wait. Please at least check out the website – www.threecupsoftea.com. It is truly amazing the impact that one man can have on so many people.
I like receiving lamps, talking about taking trips and talking on the phone for at least half an hour every night I don’t see you. I could get used to this but probably shouldn’t let myself do that. Just in case. A girl’s gotta be on the defensive because you never know.
And now you must explain to me why I am up at 1:15AM on a week day. I blame the cookies.