Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tree child

From a letter I wrote to my parents from boarding school when I was in Grade Four, just after my ninth birthday. "Half-term" was a two-day break from school work. Most of the day was spent "at the river" swimming and playing. We were served extra treats and usually shown a film in the evenings. It was the highlight of the school term. (When the school terms were longer, four and half months, we had two half-term breaks.)

(Note: I have edited this slightly to remove spelling errors and to make it slightly easier to read!)
On half-term I got so many sweets. I got 83 ngwee worth of sweets. 66 ngwee was my birthday sweets and 17 ngwee was my half-term sweets. After we got our sweets, we played around or got ready to go down to the river. About 10 o'clock we went down to the river. I had a super time in swimming in the morning! Miss Halls gave us a long, long time to swim! All the time I did dives off the spring board. I did at least fifty dives.

When it was "all out," I quickly got dressed, ate a sweet and asked to climb trees. Soon it was lunch. I was the last one in line because the tree that I was up had so many people and it took such a long time to get down. After lunch I climbed trees again. I climbed them until rest hour. During rest hour I read and did criss-cross puzzles. When rest hour had finished, and I had had my milk and cookies, I climbed trees again. I climbed them until swimming. Again I had lots of fun. All the time I did dives off the spring board. I had so much fun on half-term.

The Family of Man

From The Intimate Merton: His Life from His Journals , March 19, 1958 (p. 125):
Marvelous books for a few pennies--including The Family of Man for 50 cents. All those fabulous pictures. No refinements and no explanations are necessary!
By chance, I found The Family of Man: The Greatest Photographic Exhibition of All Time- 503 Pictures from 68 Countries book in high school, perhaps (?), and it became my stock wedding gift and for other gift-giving occasions.

Later, I picked up a rather battered copy for myself from a used bookstore. The black-and-white photographs and scattered quotes truly give an unadorned and evocative glimpse of human life and longing that contrasts with the much more constructed and artificial way we (I) live our (my) lives (life) today in Western society.

I am sad that so many of the photos remain just that--pictures on paper. But, still, they beckon....