Tuesday, January 11, 2011
There is a wonderful children's book called Frederick by Leo Lionni. (1967). At the story's beginning, a young family of field mice scurries around, making all the necessary preparations for the upcoming winter - collecting berries, gathering wheat, finding a cozy hideaway in the stones. Everyone works hard - except for Frederick. Disdainfully, the others question him, "Why don't you work?" He replies - "I am working." Frederick works at gathering the warmth of the sun's rays; the gorgeous colors of the meadow; and words. Finally, it is the dead of winter. The mice have depleted most of their food. They turn to Frederick in their misery, and ask him to share his supplies. Under Frederick's guidance, the mice revel in the warmth of the sun, of the colors that are painted in their memories, of the beautiful words Frederick has composed into a poem. Always humble, Frederick accepts their love and praise, knowing that his work has earned his keep among the mice.
In August, just before school started, I came across a wonderful idea in Family Fun magazine: a summer memory jar. In the hot and humid days that ended our summer, it was hard to imagine that we'd soon be facing the bitter cold of January, the lonely days of February, and the relentless hold that March often has on winter - yet I knew the summer memory jar would make it more bearable. And so we began. Each of us wrote down (or drew pictures of) our most favorite summer memories, with enough detail to bring us back to those specific moments in time. We added more memories to the jar over several days until it was full, then tucked it away on a side table in the dining room, to be brought out again when the days were bitter cold...
....Then, just a few days ago, after Aidan chose Frederick as his going to bed book, the lightbulb suddenly shined bright over his clever mind. "Oh Mom!" he exclaimed. "We are just like Frederick! We collected all those summer memories and now we can read them and remember when it was warm!!"
Yes, Aidan, we are just like Frederick - more accurately, you are just like Frederick. You are my collector of sunshine, of colors, of words - you are my poet. And you've certainly earned your keep.