Thoreau we go again.
I live in a chic place where art and ideas are worn on t-shirts and old is new and back again! It is one of those cool towns…you know, where authenticity and commercial success drink coffee and bank together. I live in a coveted corner amongst the locals, with authentic bona fides: street cred, legit. I pinch myself at the artistic opportunity of it all. BUT THOREAU WE GO AGAIN!
Shy, lonely, introvert ,inhospitable, hermit, territorial, certified socially anxious: as a self -diagnosed Transcendentalist, I have pinned all my hope (my cure-all) on finding a supportive, utopian co-op of other broke, but don’t cares; the holes are worn, not bought, kind of folks. So, I left the beach and set off on my hero’s journey to find MY PLACE. My Thoreau Approved List: Out of the city, off the grid ,but with internet. Mmmm check ( Henry David would allow the internet right?) OK, I will compromise and keep my kitchen and my loo primitive. Next we need a “Historically Authentic” town, not a commercially created one. So, when I have to do the dreaded mundane life stuff like get gas ( a real concern because my cabin in the wood is miles from civilization), I won’t be tainted by my time in town. I won’t allow myself to shop near the highway. If I buy local it won’t count as excess. Of course, I will need a pond small or large. I will have to be flexible. It will have to double as my bath. It will be ok, I am committed to my artistic life of seclusion. I will think about that later. Next stay away from town when the “turistas” come and always be outwardly annoyed by them( I am too busy creating important works to be social .) Wait, Mr. Thoreau… I will need to chat. After all, I’m a Southern introvert. How long can I go without small talk, the beauty shop and sweet tea( just make sure its organic sugar? ) Ahh, this Southern writer’s missing ingredient, organic sugar! Well, here I am. I found MY PLACE on a Monday mid- morning, the sun high, the sky blue; chatting with a local character, listening to a story I could only hope to write. I take a sip of my ice-cold tea, that I drove 20 miles to get, and my thoughts wander. I begin to write in my head, as I pass stores I can’t afford, on my way to my little house in the coveted hills. Thoreau was right- place matters and stuff does not- and it’s ok to want it all and nothing at the same time.
See you out there on the Transcendental Highway writers, artists, thespians and troubadours alike!
-Elizabeth ( Betsy) Keese-
“That great Cathedral space which was childhood.” Virginia Woolf
In that vast universe of a child’s imagination referred to by author, Virginia Woolf, lies a deep fascination with all things tiny and small. The allure of wee folk, fairies, and elves and their singular homes is found across cultures and time. Children no bigger than thumbs, Hobbits that live in the Shire, fairies that dwell in flowers, or elves that inhabit cottages, the Folk and their homes are an underpinning of children’s literature and are found in stories, rhymes, songs and legends.
A favorite example is the story of THE THREE LITTLE PIGS. The “little” pigs are pitted against the “big” bad wolf. To escape the wolf, they must construct some kind of house or fort. Versions of the tale vary, but after trying straw, sticks, and finally, bricks for their home; the pigs defeat the wolf in their tiny citadel and save the day.
There are many nursery rhymes that feature little people or creatures and strange or unusual housing arrangements.
Illustration by Faith Jaques From The Orchard of Nursery Rhymes
There was an old woman who lived in a shoe. She had so many children she did not know what to do.
Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater, had a wife, but could not keep her. Put her in a pumpkin shell and there he kept her very well.
The itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the water spout. Down came the rain and washed the spider out. Out came the sun and dried up all the rain and the itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the spout again.
There was an old woman called nothing at all who lived in a house exceedingly small.
Lady Bug, Lady Bug, fly away home. Your house is on fire and your children are gone.
Just a few favorite children’s books about small things and small creatures:
Thumbelina, by Hans Christian Anderson; Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift; Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame; Stuart Little, by E.B. White; The Borrowers, by Mary Norton; and The Indian in the Cupboard, by Lynn Reid Banks.