Monday, April 4, 2011
Found childhood treasures
In thinking of my childhood, I see two rooms; one room is filled with the turbulence and excitement and laughter of a household of nine and a neighbourhood where in one city block, we could count over one hundred children. The other room I see is the place where I would escape to whenever I could; a place where I found a quiet place and stepped into the stories I read. There I entered castles, underwaters, treetops, towers and and caves.
Whenever I step into a second hand shop, I find myself instinctively searching through the books, looking for illustrations that might kindle those daydreaming hours of my childhood. As children, we leafed through a set of green books called "My Book House". Book one begins with simple lullabies, book two with poetry, book three with faerie tales and on it goes. The books were published in the 1950's and early 1960's, around the time I was growing up. While stepping into a small and junk-filled second hand shop the other day, I came across two of the "green books". They have been battered and torn and worn but that made no difference to me. I snatched them up as greedily as a person might snatch up a sweet bun, after abstaining from sweets for weeks. I also saw a red hat that took my fancy, with a tiny brim of paper flowers around its crown. It seemed to go with the books; fanciful, childlike and playful. The moment I arrived home, I began leafing through the pages. I found a poem my father used to sing to us about blackbirds. I saw (and remembered how it had delighted me as a child) an illustration of an old man whose beard was so voluminous, a number of critters had made their home in his beard. And a girl walking among the owls; her cape flowing like wings into the sky. These battered books are like the carrier pigeons of my childhood. I welcome their messages and notes with open arms. It seems to me that inspiration can come in many forms. And for only a few dollars, I can bring myself to a gentler place. Some might call me frivolous. But I'm sure Jane Eyre would approve and applaud the few purchases!