In the last days of spring, my dawns and dusks were in Paris. The morning light came through windows with a view of rooftops near the Place des Vosges, the day faded into night as brushstrokes of luminescence rippled along the Seine.
Today, the longest day of the year, I travel. I woke to birdsong, symphonic through windows high up in a brick townhouse, in a leafy urban neighborhood in Toronto, where the birdfeeders are fed with the best of nyger seed and nuts. Tonight, I will greet the twilight thousands of miles away in Calgary, the city where I grew up. I have traveled from one side of the Atlantic ocean to the other, and now from almost one side of Canada to almost the other, from East to West, from Old World to New World, from pretend Parisienne to pen-wielding prodigal, returning from European writing adventures to visit family in my hometown.
I wonder, as I travel on this longest day of the year, about the long journeys of our lives, about literature as a guide and companion for our adventures.
Next to me on the airplane sits a young man, a recent university graduate, on his way to South Africa to train as a safari guide in the Kalahari. I wonder what he read as a child, what his favorite books were, what fictional advetures whetted and sharpened his appetite for real life daring.
In my imagination, he would have read Tarzan and Tintin and Tolkien. He would have learned the delightfully ridiculous cabaret songs of Flanders and Swann about hippopotami and gnus, He would know Kipling, and Jules Verne and the journals of explorers who dared find their way far from home.
As writers and illustrators for children, we are shepherds of dreams, marshalling possibilities from the worlds of fact and fantasy to be held in the hands and hearts and minds of growing kids.
As I ride through the sky, I wish every child bon voyage – may their spirits soar, and may they never be without a good book.
On the summer solstice yesterday, the European branches of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) hosted an inspiring event, the Summer Solstice Scrawl Crawl http://scrawlcrawl.blogspot.com/, in which creators were encouraged to post their impressions of the day, especially on the theme of dawn to dusk, on a collective blog. The organizers were kind enough to invite me to participate as one of the roving scrawl crawlers — unfortunately, due to travel timing and tech issues, I wasn’t able to post on the day. This post was created in an actual paper notebook, with an actual ink pen, on a cross-Canada flight, approximately mid-way through the longest day of the year.