A Gathering of Days won the Newbery Award in 1980 so I am reading it for the Newbery Challenge that Mr. Schu and Mr. Sharp are leading. What I notice is that Catherine, the main character, lives in a very simple time. They have few belongings, there are few choices for food, and few choices about what a female may do in life. The girls do not learn math in school and she is essentially running the household at the age of thirteen since her mother and a young brother both died.
While I wouldn't want to go back to those times, there are definitely things that appeal to me. It seems that as a whole, Americans tend to value choice and variety. We are happy to see cereal aisles in the store with hundreds of choices. We appreciate having many restaurant options. I am not sure how some of us would cope if we only had one nice outfit and one or two for daily wear.
As I prepared dinner this evening, I was happy to use the electric stovetop for our soup. The refrigerator was also welcome. We have so many wonderful things that make life easier, but we also have a million more things to distract us and make us question our decisions. When there is only frozen soup as a dinner choice, there is no problem figuring out what to make.
During our time off, I have had the chance to take several walks in our winter wonderland. With a camera in my hand, my eyes are always scanning to see what the world is saying. To enjoy the beauty or the ugliness. Without the many distractions that are usually present in my daily life, peace flows in and I feel love for the world and appreciation for the very air I am breathing.
The 1800s are not where we live, but we can have a taste of that simple life by looking for quiet moments in the day and keeping our eyes open for the wonders around us. Another book I am reading, Every Day by David Levithan expresses this too. When two characters are frolicking at the beach, one notes that, "We have returned to a world that is capable of glistening, and we are wading deeper within it." Somehow this may work into a kind of goal for the year, but mostly, this is just a bit of pondering.
I wish you a new year of wonder. Peace out.
|Looking down from the bridge at the icy river.