Connections are important to me. Connections between people. Connections between people and nature. If we had more of both, I believe we'd have a lot fewerproblems in the world. While this blog focuses on connections between kids from different cultures and kids and nature, I'd like to take a little side trip today. It may seem disconnected to you, but stick with me. I hope my comments will help you understand.
How connected are your children or students to their relatives, both dead and living? I ask this question because I believe fully understanding your family's values and beliefs enables you to make choices about continuing or rejecting those beliefs.
I am fortunate to come from a solid foundation. I grew up with my relatives nearby. When I was young, four generations lived on our farm, so I had a sense of family history. I felt loved by my great-grandfather and great grandmother right on down to my aunts and uncles. I learned to live close to the land as I helped feed the animals, bring in the hay, and work the vegetable gardens. I learned independence romping in the woods and fields alone or building forts with my friends. I'm certain I am a naturalist because of this early beginning.
Only later, as a pre-teen, did I start to question the opinions expressed by certain relatives. I heard racial and ethnic slurs uttered on many occasions by some extended relatives. One grandfather thought women should stay home and have babies. He told my parents, "You do not waste money educating women." I didn't always like my extended family or the prejudice that existed. My questioning of that prejudice, and my parents' recognition of it, gave me the courage to grow and reach for something better. Being firmly rooted to my nuclear family and my home gave me the courage to spread my wings and fly half way around the world as an exchange student when I was just 16 years old, even when my grandfather said I belonged at home.
My parents did not want us to repeat my family's history of racism, sexism, antisemitism, etc. (you name an "-ism," it was present in my extended family). They worked hard and raised their daughters to be strong and independent. They pushed us to aim high. Each of us has studied abroad and earned Master's degrees- the first women in our family to do either. Each of us is a strong independent woman because of our parents. Each of us views the world in a more global way than was the norm in our small home town. I am certain I am passionate about race relations and interactions between people because of the blatant prejudices I experienced as a child and my parents' critical responses to it.
The other day, as I walked in my yard photographing my beautiful flowers, all of these ideas flooded my mind. What made that happen you might ask? My strong roots, that's what. I live in the house my maternal grandparents lived in when I was a child. My parents live in my paternal grandparent's house. All around me I see evidence of my grandparents. This home is certainly ours now- we've lived here more than 15 years and made many changes to make it our own. One thing that hasn't changed is some of the gardens and plants. As I walk through my gardens, I see the flowers my grandmother planted all those years ago still blooming. Her snowdrops, crocuses, and daffodils still push up through the snow every spring. Each time I see them I think of her and smile. My front garden is a riot of color right now- some of it my grandmother's plants, some of it plants dug from friends' and relatives' gardens over the years. Gardening goes way back in my family. As I walked and photographed each of those flowers yesterday, I thought of the person who gave them to me. And there's the seed of this whole post: connections between the people in my life (some living, some dead) and nature, in the form of the plants they gave me.
For your viewing pleasure... here is a sampling of those flowers and who they're from:
My deceased grandmother's clematis. This is the first time it has bloomed for me.
My grandmother's iris. Yellow was her favorite color.
Peony dug from my uncle's garden. That ant is doing it's job--soon a full bloom!
Lupine my mom grew from seed.
Geranium dug from my great aunt's garden 10 years ago.
Iris from the original plant my mom dug from her grandmother's garden back in the 60's.
I maintain strong connections to the family that nurtures me. I embrace my family’s legacy of living close to the earth- of growing food and flowers and animals-but I reject the legacy of prejudice. I can only choose to embrace or reject something once I have recognized it, considered it, and acted in response to it.
How about you? What is your family legacy? What makes you proud? What do you want to change for your children? How will you make that happen?
I had a book event on Saturday morning, but then I was back to slinging hay bales on my parents’ farm at 4 pm. But hey, (haha... get it...) this is all fodder for a work in progress. #authorlife #rurallife
Some photos from yesterday’s storytime event at @belmontbooks featuring @painternik9 @joshfunkbooks @melissastewartscience & @skortch
Happy Birthday Belmont Books! Thanks for having us.
#booksellers #kidlit #kidlitart
Lovely to be greeted by this sign during my school visit to Rochester Memorial School today. Special thanks to Mrs. Sollauer for having me and to Miss Lisa for making the Dumbo Octopus for me.
I love being with kids to share my book. I always come away wishing I had more time with them.
Side note: a girl who was at @bn_dartmouth tonight got me to tell a story she heard me tell during my school visit at Center School last month. (Hint: it involves a shark). #FlyingDeep
#nonfiction #kidlit #STEAM #STEM
I finally picked up my pre-ordered copy of The Brilliant Deep, a non-fiction picture book by @katemessner I love this cover SO much, I had to take a photo in the sunshine to try to show the shimmery accents. The art throughout the book is stunning.
Kate tells the story of a Ken Nedimyer’s work to save dying coral reefs in clear text that is sure to engage readers. She also uses science words such as spawn and nitrates, which kids will love.
The first page begins with 4 words: “It begins with one.” Those words hooked me right away.
I’ve admired Kate for years, so placing her book beside mine on my book shelf is kinda thrilling.
#nonfiction #kidlit #savetheocean
#RochesterLife 60: Haying Season. It’s that time of year when my dad calls and says, “We’ll be taking in the hay tomorrow afternoon” and we know that means he needs our help. On a good day, no equipment breaks, it’s dry and about 70 degrees F (21 C) and plenty of people turn up to help. Yesterday, we had 2 out of 3: perfect weather and plenty of helpers. A flat tire the day before meant we started late. (You can’t just run out and get a new tire for old equipment...). Since we had plenty of help, Yesterday, I was able to steal a little time to write. I sat down on a haybale and took notes for my WIP. #farmlife #nature #kidlit
#RochesterLife 59: Wildlife in our yard. This varies daily. Today we spotted a turtle. Tomorrow it could be a wild turkey or a fox or any number of animals. #nature #getoutdoors
My teen has wanted a 3-D printer for a looong time, but they’re super expensive. Solution? He bought a kit to build his own.
I find that idea overwhelming, but he’s been smiling all afternoon. #STEM #STEAM
I finally shipped the shrunken cups to the lovely winners of my pre-order campaign give-away.
The five recipients are:
Lisa Goldfeder and
Special thanks to everyone who supported both my book and a local indie, @eight_cousins_books, by placing pre-orders.
#nonfiction #kidlit #childrensbookseller #FlyingDeep
Have you been to @bsb_savoy in Westerly, RI? Check this out. They have 3 of these little fairy doors hidden in the shop that reveal a hidden world behind the wall when opened. It’s hard to get a good photo, but these pics give you a sense of them. What kid wouldn’t love to discover these? This adult sure was excited! #indiebookstore #fairyhouse
I love this photo of a young reader at my event on Sunday at @rjjulia looking through the Alvin view port on loan to me from @woodshole_ocean. This kiddo was so engaged in my presentation. He asked great questions and shared information he knows, too. Potential future Alvin pilot right here. (Please note: his mother gave me permission to share these photos but asked that I not indicate who she is to maintain her child’s privacy. If you happen to recognize this boy, please do not indicate his name). #FlyingDeep #nonfiction #STEAM #KidLit @charlesbridgepublishing