Monday, December 21, 2009

early geography

Originally uploaded by marymactavish.
When I was at my youngest, the scale of the world, and what went on over the earth, never occurred to me. I fell asleep on long car trips, so I thought we lived relatively near the bay area, as I always woke up as we crossed the Carquinez Strait. I actually remember many of the various stages of geographic awareness I passed.

When we got air conditioning in our car, and didn't have to drive down the valley at 2 am in the roasting summertime, I learned how far away we were from the bay area, as I was awake for the ride.

And Robert Louis Stephenson taught me to think about what was going on elsewhere, in terms of shared experience. Steady, cold rain like today's reminds me of his poem, "Rain." It's so simple:

THE RAIN is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.

Oddly, re-reading that, I notice that I remembered it differently. Until now, I remembered, "It rains on houses in Japan/And on the ships at sea." I wonder why. Was I looking at pictures or reading books about Japan, then? About houses or umbrellas in Japan?


This sort of thing, though, colored my geographic learning, and I think it's valuable in any child's learning, to have literature that isn't all about morals and lessons, but also about images, and places, and shared experience, and how things were different back then, and about how we're not the only people in the world, and our experience is not the only experience, and that there are things we will all share, and that there are things that we might never relate to.