Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Explore Outdoors ~ spring flowers

 Forsythia is blooming like fireworks! And when you look closely at the flowers, you can find tiny visitors. What's blooming in your neighborhood? 



Friday, April 12, 2024

Wilma's Words to Save the Water

 
Of Words and Water: The Story of Wilma Dykeman--Writer, Historian, Environmentalist
by Shannon Hitchcock; illus. by Sophie Page
32 pages; ages 6-9
‎ Reycraft Books, 2024

theme: Rivers, environment, biography

Born in the Blue Ridge Mountains near the French Broad River, Wilma Dykeman was an only child. Her first words were – “Water coming down.”

Using lyrical language, Shannon Hitchcock tells the tale of an environmentalist who deserves to be better known. An only child, Wilma spent her days exploring ponds and meadows and the creek that ran nearby. She earned a scholarship to college, and after marrying she returned to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the river of her home. She traveled up and down the river, collecting stories about the people who lived there and noticed the pollution that killed the trout and threatened peoples’ livelihoods. Wilma wrote a book about the people living along the river, and a publisher accepted the book. On one condition: she remove what she wrote about water pollution. Wilma refused. She wanted to inspire people to clean up the water and believed that  factories and businesses could coexist with clean water.

When her book was published – about seven years before Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring – people paid attention. 
 
What I like about this book: I always love a good story about someone working to make this world a better place to live, whether you’re a fish or a person. Her motto was “Be good to the earth, fair to other people, and use words to fight injustice.” Good words to live by whether you live near a stream or in the middle of a city.

I also adore Sophie Page’s artwork. She uses clay, paper, fabric, and wire in her pictures which give them a three-dimensional quality. Blues and greens run through nearly all of the double-page spreads … almost like a river connecting them.

Shannon graciously answered Two Questions:

Me: Why Wilma? What drew you to her story?
 
Shannon: This book is part of the storytellers’ series I've been writing for Reycraft. In that series we're looking at all the different ways human beings have shared stories. We started with oral storytelling, moved on to sharing stories through music, then story quilts. After that I started searching for an Appalachian author, somebody who shared stories through the written word. Wilma was born in Asheville where I now live, and after seeing an exhibition about her in my local library I thought she would be a good subject. So I started my research.

Me: There is something special about canoeing or rafting down a river: the smell, the sounds, the way the air feels different than on shore. Have you traveled down the French Broad (or maybe another) river? 

Shannon: No, I haven't traveled down the French Broad. The closest I have come is traveling down the Yadkin River on an inner tube! 
 
Me: Tubing down a river sounds like a relaxing way to spend a hot summer day! Thanks for joining us here on the blog. And for folks who are interested, I had a longer conversation with Shannon a couple years ago about "writing from a sense of place." You can read that over at the GROG blog.

Beyond the Books:

Spend some time near a river – or even in a boat on a river. What do you see? Listen: what sounds do you hear? Does the air smell or feel different the closer you get to a river? Write or draw your observations.

If you have a stream or creek or river nearby, visit it at different times of the year. How does it change? Besides you, what other animals hang out at the river?

Create a mixed-media picture that shows something of the world around you. Some materials to use: different kinds of paper (store bags, giftwrap, origami, construction); fabric; natural materials; clay or play-dough; paint, pencil charcoal, or ink.

Today we’re joining Perfect Picture Book Friday. It’s a wonderful gathering where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Explore Outdoors ~ Lichens and Moss

 There's something about lichens that enchants me. I love the idea of cooperative housing (fungi and algae living together) and how they are such pioneers. Lichens grow on rocks and tombstones and old picnic tables and even trunks and limbs of trees. Here are some I saw over the past week. Granted, the moss is pretty cool, too!



What kinds of lichen have you found lately?