Summer is in full swing, and I am happy to report we’ve been swept up and taken along for the ride. Our adventures began with a trip to Quebec to visit my brother, and his family, at their cottage. I’d been itching for a road trip, and my niece obliged me with an invite to her 4th birthday bash lakeside. I started with a trip to the library for audiobooks, and was happy to see The Phantom Toll Booth by Norton Juster . I hadn’t read this myself, and after reading the synopsis expected a life lecture veiled with a thin story. While the character is certainly being taught lessons about his apathetic ways, the story also had my eight year old bursting with laughter at the silly talk, double entendres and puns. It clearly spoke to his sense of humour, as he kept calling out, “Get it? Get it?” I don’t know that I’d have enjoyed reading this one aloud myself, so I’m recommending it as road trip material; too hard for them to read, and not my cup of tea. As an aside, I whole heartedly recommend The Beejum Book by Alice O. Howell as a road trip audiobook. It is long, and also packed with wisdom, but much more philosophical, and a more engaging (to me) story. My guys have listened to this one countless times, it doubles as a lovely story to fall asleep to.
The water at the cottage stopped working shortly before our arrival, bringing the added adventure of lugging water from the lake, heating it, and makeshift hand washing efforts, to the mix. You know, as frustrating as it was for my bro and Mr.Awesome trying to fix the pump, it was a great reminder of how luxurious the privilege of turning on a tap, flushing a toilet, and a hot shower really are. It was also empowering to overcome the obstacles and get by with what we had. And really, we still had a lot; warm shelter and hot stove, refrigerator full of food, not to mention the clean lake just down the hill! I know I just mentioned ‘Prodigal Summer’ by Barbara Kingsolver, but her book, ‘The Poisonwood Bible’ immediately came to mind. The missionary family trying to get a grip on the realities and struggles of life in an African village in the 60’s; the work it took to provide and execute the simple necessities of the day: food acquiring and cooking, water gathering, and basic hygiene. All done with grace by the locals, their own family done in by the task.
Well, you won’t be giving that one to the kiddos, but here are a few books that centre around self-sustainment, adventure, or an eye towards how others experience(d) the world:
Lila and the Secret of Rain by David Conway & Jude Daly
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
A Pioneer Story: The Daily Life of a Canadian Family in 1840 by Heather Collins and Barbara Greenwood
The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
Our few days in Quebec were packed with
Fairy house making
And of course, more reading!
Flotsam by David Wiesner
After a quick day stop at home for laundry and showers, we headed out again to visit friends in Sauble Beach.
My own story takes place at a summer cottage in Ontario, so all this cottage hopping has been great for research ; )
Some wonderful (finished & published) cottage-y books for 8-12yr olds:
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
A handful of Time by Kit Pearson
Stand in the wind by Jean Little
And I’m reading Watership Down by Richard Adams. Picked by my book club, I am really enjoying this so far. I wondered where the story was going for a good 100 pages, but have settled in for the journey, enjoying the view of our world from a rabbits perspective. As we drove home, this story had me reflecting on the vast worlds we pass by, mostly unaware, in a flash of a field out the car window.
I’ll leave you with Mary Oliver, who expresses this much more eloquently:
How Everything Adores Being Alive
if you were
and a soft wind
and a certain allowance of time
had summoned you
out of your wrappings,
and there you were,
so many legs
more than one pair of eyes
and the whole world
in front of you?
And what if you had wings
into the garden,
into the up-tipped
of a white flower,
and what if you had
a sort of mouth,
to place close
to the skim
that kept offering itself-
what would you think then
of the world
as, night and day,
you were kept there-
oh happy prisoner-
that deep cup?