Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Indiana/Florida trip, part 6: A magical moment

On the way back to the house after the first day of the retreat, we saw such a beautiful scene that we had to stop and soak it in a bit. And the car behind us had to stop, too, but they were with us and knew what was going on.

Naomi and Amy tried to get video or photos, but nothing shows the beauty of what it was really like. The sunset and the field show up, but not the millions of fireflies. All together it was breathtaking. Plus, there was the added fellowship of enjoying with likeminded friends. We talked about "that part where Charlotte wrote about storing up beautiful scenes in our memories for later," and everyone knew what we meant. (I pasted in that whole section of the book we were talking about below.)

Naomi sent me her photo of the scene, and I also tried to paint it from memory. I want to paint again while actually looking at Naomi's photo; I know now that I need to make the colors brighter.

I also added glitter to my sketch, to show the fireflies. When Will saw it, he thought that the girls had gotten to my painting, so I guess it looks childish, but I like it. I'll probably do it again on my next try at capturing this, too.

Charlotte Mason's vol 1 pg 49-50


Method of.––So exceedingly delightful is this faculty of taking mental photographs, exact images, of the beauties of Nature we go about the world for the refreshment of seeing, that it is worth while to exercise children in another way towards this end, bearing in mind, however, that they see the near and the minute, but can only be made with an effort to look at the wide and the distant. Get the children to look well at some patch of landscape, and then to shut their eyes and call up the picture before them, if any bit of it is blurred, they had better look again. When they have a perfect image before their eyes, let them say what they see. Thus: 'I see a pond; it is shallow on this side, but deep on the other; trees come to the waters edge on that side, and you can see their green leaves and branches so plainly in the water that you would think there was a wood underneath. Almost touching the trees in the water is a bit of blue sky with a soft white cloud; and when you look up you see that same little cloud, but with a great deal of sky instead of a patch, because there are no trees up there. There are lovely little water-lilies round the far edge of the pond, and two or three of the big round leaves are turned up like sails. Near where I am standing three cows have come to drink, and one has got far into the water, nearly up to her neck,' etc.

Strain on the Attention.––This, too, is an exercise children delight in, but, as it involves some strain on the attention, it is fatiguing, and should only be employed now and then. It is, however, well worth while to give children the habit of getting a bit of landscape by heart in this way, because it is the effort of recalling and reproducing that is fatiguing; while the altogether pleasurable act of seeing, fully and in detail, is likely to be repeated unconsciously until it becomes a habit by the child who is required now and then to reproduce what he sees.

Seeing Fully and in Detail.––At first the children will want a little help in the art of seeing. The mother will say, 'Look at the reflection of the trees! There might be a wood under the water. What do those standing up leaves remind you of?' And so on, until the children have noticed the salient points of the scene. She will even herself learn off two or three scenes, and describe them with closed eyes for the children's amusement; and such little mimics are they, and at the same time so sympathetic, that any graceful fanciful touch which she throws into her descriptions will be reproduced with variations in theirs.

The children will delight in this game of picture-painting all the more if the mother introduce it by describing some great picture gallery she has seen––pictures of mountains, of moors, of stormy seas, of ploughed fields, of little children at play, of an old woman knitting,––and goes on to say, that though she does not paint her pictures on canvas and have them put in frames, she carries about with her just such a picture gallery; for whenever she sees anything lovely or interesting, she looks at it until she has the picture in her mind's eye; and then she carries it away with her, her own for ever, a picture on view just when she wants it.

A Means of After-Solace and Refreshment.––It would be difficult to overrate this habit of seeing and storing as a means of after-solace and refreshment. The busiest of us have holidays when we slip our necks out of the yoke and come face to face with Nature, to be healed and blessed by
     "The breathing balm,
     The silence and the calm
     Of mute, insensate things."
This immediate refreshment is open to everybody according to his measure; but it is a mistake to suppose that everybody is able to carry away a refreshing image of that which gives him delight. Only a few can say with Wordsworth, of scenes they have visited
          "Though absent long,
     These forms of beauty have not been to me
     As is a landscape to a blind mans eye;
     But oft, in lonely rooms, and mid the din
     Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,
     In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
     Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
     And passing even into my purer mind,
     With tranquil restoration.
And yet this is no high poetic gift which the rest of us must be content to admire, but a common reward for taking pains in the act of seeing which parents may do a great deal to confer upon their children.


Anonymous said...

You did such a fantastic job of remembering the scene...and with such detail! Your painting is spot on. I would have thought you did it while looking at the photo if you had not explained in your commentary. I will try to "picture" moments in time to build up my own "gallery". Thanks for sharing.

Mom said...

Your painting actually conveys more than the photographs. Perhaps the glitter is precisely what the picture needed simply because fireflies are entirely otherworldly and amazing. Beautiful post--in word and image. Love you!

Baba Julie said...

Beautiful! Yes! I can see the fireflies! You are very talented and I, too, try to store the beauty of the moment in my memory. I understand that completely. Love to each of you!

Brandy Vencel said...

I *like* the glitter! :)