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27 November 2006

Time Travel

Schools are time machines - I know my art students* of yore absorbed attitudes and observations from me and will pass them on long after I'm dead . That's not what I'm posting about now, though. It suddenly occurred to me that my existence seems to criss-cross time in a funny way.

I've always thought my life is like a movie, but it's beyond that, really. The anachronistic aspect of my life is a bit extreme in parts, and was heightened by being raised in a very isolated family. Essentially I was raised according to their beliefs, which were formed in the early** to mid twentieth century. In effect, once we left England we were sealed in a time capsule. Of course, it sounds funny to people now that we left in an ocean liner which took a week or two to cross the Atlantic, but that part was just normal.

In rural Canada my brother, sister, and I had to walk*** 3 miles each day to Pine Grove School. That was by the roads - we shortened it to 2.5 miles by crossing fields. Of course it snowed in October and didn't thaw until April, and the drifts were much higher than our heads. The school had no plumbing and was heated by a woodstove. Miss Larson had many different ages/grades arranged in rows and ruled in an absolute fashion. I remember her saying (like an air traffic controller) Row (or was it grade?) Three will do pages 22-25 in their arithmetic book; Row One will read aloud beginning with paragraph 2 on page 15 of book X... Our desks were the old fashioned row kind that were bolted to the floor. I had that kind of desk for years**** and always felt sorely deprived that the hole for the inkwell was empty. I'd've loved having ink.

The chief amusements at that point were playing classical records and dancing either ballet (we'd been in ballet school prior to leaving) or the MINUET, singing Christmas carols all year long, reading a great deal (almost all very, very old books), horses (as usual), running around in the woods (which in the country are spotted with farm tips containing such fascinating objects as jars and bottles from the previous century, rusted hulks of discarded machinery, and so on), and revelling in potentially lethal activities like jumping in enormous bins of oats for the pleasure of sliding down. I suppose living with ice and snow made us more interested in sliding year-round. A boy at school was killed one recess by sliding down the packed snow bordering the (dirt) road and being hit by a truck. I have some very clear memories from that time of observing patterns in ice, being nearly killed by cattle, getting bitten by a goose (I had been bitten by a swan earlier - I'm not crazy about huge birds)...

Woops - the snow has stopped and I need to go out, so this post is hereby concluded.
*stamps with official seal*

*I ran an art program for gifted young artists for 16 years in Indian Country. One year at our pow wow I just handed my cameras over to children who proceeded to take amazing pictures like THIS and THIS.
**Unrelated note of interest: I was married to someone older than I whose mother had been born in the same year as my mother. Therefore, I told him we had come from eggs the same age - which caused him to respond, with some consternation, "No one in the history of the world has ever had that thought before." Heh.
***They had to drag me.
****I went to 2 one-room schoolhouses and 1 two-room schoolhouse.

posted by - 12:06 PM


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