Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘earth’

What novel is this from?

Following, is a brief excerpt from one of the greatest books EVER written. Do you know the title and the author? Read a slice, before going to the bottom to find the answer.

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The years took all the fight out of Janie’s face. For a while she thought it was gone from her soul. No matter what Jody did, she said nothing. She had learned how to talk some and leave some. She was a rut in the road. Plenty of life beneath the surface but it was kept beaten down by the wheels. Sometimes she stuck out into the future, imagining her life different from what it was. But mostly she lived between her hat and her heels, with her emotional disturbances like shade patterns in the woods – come and gone with the sun. She got nothing from Jody except what money could buy, and she was giving away what she didn’t value.

Now and again she thought of a country road at sun-up and considered flight. To where? To what? Then too she considered thirty-five is twice seventeen and nothing was the same at all.

“Maybe he ain’t nothin’,” she cautioned herself, “but he is someting in my mouth. He’s got tuh be else Ah ain’t got nothin’ tuh live for. Ah’ll lie and say he is. If Ah don’t, life won’t be nothin’ but uh store and uh house.”

She didn’t read books so she didn’t know that she was the world and the heavens boiled down to a drop. Man attempting to climb to painless heights from his dung hill.

Then one day she sat and watched the shadow of herself going about tending store and prostrating itself before Jody, while all the time she herself sat under a shady tree with the wind blowing through her hair and her clothes. Somebody near about making summertime out of lonesomeness.

This was the first time it happened, but after a while it got so common she ceased to be surprised. It was like a drug. In a way it was good because it reconciled her to things. She got so she received all things with the solidness of the earth which soaks up urine and perfume with the same indifference.

THE ANSWER IS:

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (Copyright 1937)

Quake, Shake & Roll

Excerpt from collection of stories for children Solar Girl and Lunar Boy.

Once upon a time there were three bad earthquakes and one good little wolf, known throughout the woods as Terra. Terra lived with her grandma, Nova. Nova was one of the oldest and wisest wolves in the pack. They lived together in the far Northwestern portion of the United States, by a city called Anchorage, Alaska.

Terra was a math teacher who taught the younger wolves many important lessons. She taught them how many times to bay at the moon, how to count members of the pack to make sure everyone was present, and how many meters it takes to run, jump and catch a fast moving mouse. Grandma Nova was a retired builder who helped construct lairs and other dwellings.

Terra and Nova lived in a lovely home made of stone. Their home had kept them cozy and warm in the winter storms, but was not built to withstand vibrations from the ground below.

One day as Terra was making their mouse soup dinner, a loud rumbling noise arose from the earth and shouted, “I am the Great Alaskan Earthquake. I’m going to quake and shake and roll your house down!”

Terra stood up proudly and said, “I’m not afraid of you. Our house is strong and made of stone.

The Great Alaskan Quake began to quake and shake and roll. Terra and Nova could barely stand as the walls swayed to and fro. The ground felt like Jell-O rolling under their feet. Dishes fell from the table, books from the shelves and pictures from the walls. The sound was like thunder.

Terra was scared and began to scream for help. Grandma Nova grabbed her by the hand and pulled her under a strong table. When the quake finally stopped they walked outside and saw that the outer walls of their home had crumbled to the ground.

As Terra stood outside crying she asked Nova, “How could our beautiful house get broken? It was so strong, even during a storm!”

Holding Terra tightly Nova said, “Our home was safe and warm during a wind or snow storm, but stone can’t sway back and forth to move with a quake. Our next home will need more support and should be built with material that can move and bend.”

Terra and Grandma Nova moved in with their cousins, whose wooden house had not been damaged by the quake.

Though they liked their cousins and were thankful to have a place to stay, Tierra and Nova both wanted to have their own home.

Within a few months they received some wonderful news. Terra’s relatives in California invited her and her grandma to come live with them and teach a new pack of wolves about math and building.

After a long journey on the Howling Bus Line, they arrived in the mountains of Santa Cruz, south of San Francisco.

In Santa Cruz, Terra and Nova made many new friends and built another beautiful home. This time they decided to not take any chances on losing their house to another big bad earthquake. With the help of their family and friends they made their home out of wood, with a strong floor underneath.

Early one evening, as they sat down to read, they heard a loud, scary sound come up from the ground.

A second quake had found them and began stomping it’s huge feet.

It said, “My name is Loma Prieta and I’m going to quake and shake and roll your house down!”

Terra jumped up and said, “You can shake and shout all you want, but this time our house is built to withstand your temper tantrums.”

Once again the ground began to quake and shake and roll as the Loma Prieta Quake pounded the earth with all his might.

The brave wolves held on tightly to one another under the dining room table and watched their furniture bounce up and down like a Yo Yo. After thirty long seconds had passed the quake came to a halt. Terra and Nova danced with joy as they saw their house was still standing.

Suddenly Grandma Nova stopped dancing and sniffed the air with her soft black nose. “Do you smell that? It smells like gas. We’ve got to get out of here fast!”

The quake had started a gas leak and they didn’t know how to turn it off! They quickly walked out the front door. Just as they turned around they heard a big bang and saw smoke coming out of the windows. From a safe distance they watched their home burn to the ground. There was nothing they could do to save it.

Terra sobbed, “How could this have happened a second time? What did we do wrong?”

Through her tears Nova replied, “We built a strong flexible home but forgot to find out where to turn off the gas during an emergency. When the ground shook it broke the pipe that brings in the gas to our house. Since we were cooking our new Mouse Ear and Tail Soup for dinner, the flame from the stove lit the gas from the broken pipe, which started the fire. If we had known were to shut off the gas pipe when we left the house, the fire would never have started.”

Once again, Terra and Nova were homeless and had to move in with friends. Although they enjoyed living in the Santa Cruz Mountains they decided to move far away to another country and build one more home. They saved their money and a year later flew on a Wolverine Airlines plane to Japan. Japan is a small country far across the Pacific Ocean. It has lots of humans but very few wolves.

They settled in a park, in a city called Kobe. Terra got a job teaching math at the local lupus college, which was named Wolfgang University. They built a sturdy home, with flexible gas pipes, and Nova borrowed some books from the Wolf Den Library on how to safely prepare for an earthquake.

The books said to always stay away from windows, get under a hard table and think before you act. Know where your gas, electric and water lines come into the house and learn how to turn them off. Store flashlights, batteries, lanterns, blankets, a tent, bottled water, canned food and wood in a dry, safe place.

Six years later, when Terra and Nova had forgotten all about earthquakes, a third quake caught them by surprise. They were enjoying a delicious breakfast of mousy pancakes, rabbit cereal and fresh mountain water when they began heard a loud mad roar of fury.

“My name is Kobeka. Look at my power! I’m shaking and quaking and will soon knock your house down!”

Terra answered, “Your brother quakes destroyed two of our homes before and we respect your strength and power, but this time you’re too late. We’ll stand our ground!”

The Kobeka Quake rocked and rolled with all its might. Terra and Nova took no chances. They crawled under their kitchen table, away from the windows and listened to the wood creak and moan. They knew they would live, but would their house survive such a terrible beating?

Even though some plates on the table, books from the shelf, and bricks from the chimney fell down, their house remained standing strong and tall.

They had prepared for another quake by fastening the cabinet doors, putting their breakable dishes and glasses down low and bolting their bookcase to the wall. The quake lasted for only forty seconds but it seemed to last forever. As soon as the shock waves stopped, the wolves nimbly walked outside.

Although their home had not been damaged, others had. With their stored supplies, they helped their friends and warned them of the many aftershocks to come. Aftershocks are smaller quakes that always follow a large one.

Now, whenever an earthquake decides to strike (and it surely will), Terra and Grandma Nova are always ready.

Who’s afraid of the Big, Bad Earthquake? Not the wise little wolves.

Our Children’s Lives and Losses

Adults can be just as scared of death as children and are often unsure what to do or say when they and/or their children are touched by death’s presence.

Children in preschool often want to know the nitty-gritty details about death. Questions such as, “Where did they go? What happens to them under the ground?” or “When will they come back?” are common.

We can answer without needing to give details and if unsure of the answer our selves say so. Replies such as, “They went to heaven,” if that is what you believe or “They went back to the earth.” will work, but be prepared to describe what going to heaven or back to the earth means, because some kids want to know. It is also perfectly reasonable to say, “I don’t know where they went; what do you think?”

I recall a girl who was seven years old when her mother died suddenly. Her father tried to comfort her by saying, “God took Mommy to heaven to be with Him and Grandpa.” The girl became terrified that her father would be taken too and said, “If God can take Mom, what about you? Who will take care of me when God takes you?” Her father tried to assure her that it wasn’t “his time” and that he would “always be there,” but only time and her father’s consistent presence began to provide any assurance.

There was a friend of my teenage son whose father died after a long illness. I heard him telling my son that some of his relatives told him, “It’s for the best. Your father was so sick.” He said his grandfather told him he had to, “Be strong for your mother.” My son’s friend didn’t understand how losing his father could “be for the best”, and he didn’t feel “strong”, he felt helpless, overwhelmed and alone. He needed his mother and other adults to be strong for him, not the other way around.

Euphemisms and cliches about death provide little comfort and can create confusion, frustration and feelings of not being heard or taken seriously.

As a parent, relative, teacher or friend of a child who’s facing death, here’s what you can do to help.

Provide honest, pertinent information appropriate to your child’s developmental age.

Though there are exceptions, children under five generally do not comprehend that death is permanent. They can, however, feel the emotional atmosphere in there surroundings and respond to the reactions of significant others. Children from age five to nine have more comprehension about the finality of death. They may see death as “real”, but not something which applies to them. Young adults, ten and older, can usually recognize the finality of death, including the probability of their own. The understanding can affect their sense of safety and security.

When asked what death means or where someone who died has gone, be true to yourself and your beliefs, but pay attention to the words you use and how they may be construed. Instead of saying “Grandpa went to sleep or is on a long trip.” I’ve heard parents say, “Grandpa died. He will not be coming back. We’ll always remember him and he’ll always love you.”

Reassure your child that their feelings are normal and provide outlets for them through physical activity, art, music, writing, daily check-ins, remembrance projects (baking, gardening, making a collage or memory book).

Find support and comfort for yourself in healthy ways – talk to someone you trust, join a grief group, get enough sleep, stay physically active, write in a journal.

Let children know you are willing to share what you know and be honest about what you don’t.

LISTEN to grieving children without trying to make it better or offering advice. They, like adults, don’t always need to be “fixed” or “rescued”. What they often want most and seldom receive, is someone who will be present to whatever they are experiencing without telling them what to do or how to be.

Notify the school and teacher of a death in the family and inform them of any concerns or changes that are or will be taking place in your child’s life as a result of the loss.

What are often referred to as “secondary losses” even though they can be just as primary as having someone die, also need to be acknowledged and addressed. Some of these can include a change in caregivers, school or living environment and having to adjust to life in a different location, living with an unknown relative and/or making new friends and leaving others.

If you feel your child is exhibiting unusual behavior for an exceptionally long period of time and/or aren’t sure what is considered “unusual”, seek help from a qualified professional, such as a therapist, counselor or hospice grief/bereavement program.

There is no magic formula for grieving and healing from loss. Do the best you can. Be gentle and forgiving with yourself and those around you. Everyone grieves in their own way and their own time . . . including the children we love.

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