Home Education Magazine
January-February 1999 - Articles
Oh, The Places We'll Go
Arms crammed with the legal limit of books the library allowed its patrons to check out, I headed to my private oasis - a makeshift tent in my backyard. The tent was created by simply slinging my dad's old army blanket over a couple of clotheslines. The ends of the tent were a patchwork of old sheets clipped on with wooden clothespins. It kept younger siblings out while allowing a summer breeze in. Inside, my private quarters were furnished with all the luxuries a renegade ten-year old needed - a flashlight, pillow, notebook, pen, globe and, of course, my books.
Stretched out on a soft carpet of freshly mown grass, endless adventures awaited me here. From my backyard in Wisconsin I traveled to the dusty roads of Morocco where on the back of a horse named Sham I flew like the King of the Wind. Then I was transformed back to the Wisconsin northwoods and deep in adventure with Caddie Woodlawn. The next day I might find myself hurtling through time with Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which via something called a tesseract (or in layman's terms a "wrinkle in time") And always I returned to my real passion - a variety of atlases and travel guides that mapped my way to distant lands and adventures. My notebook was filled with places I hoped to someday go.
I remember a summer where I traveled to the deep south. It was a land of mystery - bayous filled with smells of decaying earth mixed with salt water fumes, of long legged birds and unidentified night songs. From there I visited the South Pacific where islands reached out like stepping stones towards continents yet undiscovered by me. Swaying palm trees and darting tropical fish beckoned me. Someday, I whispered.
From my backyard tent I spent several summers, traveling the world. Oh, the places I went.
Those long forgotten summers were brought vividly back to life when my ten-year old daughter Kate set up our dome tent and, with an armful of books escaped for the summer. Oh the places she goes.
Although we share many interests, nothing she has done or said in the past has made me realize how much alike we are than her "summer of books."
Our choices of books are not always similar. I loved Marguerite Henry. Kate loves Louisa May Alcott. I read the Happy Hollisters. She reads the Babysitter Club. We both have a passion for books written by Scott O'dell but our favorites differ. We agree that Madeleine L'engle is simply wonderful.
I guess our lives are that way too. There's a touch of me with lots of her. Kate is Kate but I'll always be a part of her. Our differences are simply Kate's uniqueness. I suddenly feel old and wise (although I think I'm suppose to feel mature and wise) at this realization. I have a funny feeling inside. I think it's my heart singing.
I hadn't thought much about that long forgotten summer until Kate's escape to the tent. The tent is set up near our sailboat - our home for the past 8 years - at the marina where we're waiting out hurricane season. This fall we'll head out again to distant lands. Oh, the places, we'll go. (I wonder, did this family nomadic adventure all start thirty years ago in a backyard tent?)
I take a look at a few of Kate's books as she heads to her nylon Book Nook. There's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and a stack of nonfiction books on Mars, space exploration, and the solar system, including a solar system "atlas." I watch her disappear into her private oasis. I can only imagine the places she'll someday go!
©1999, Barbara Theisen
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