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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Moonbeam drawer

Tara is 13. She doesn't read, she doesn't speak and, according to the specialists on autism, she lacks imagination. I know people who lack organization, and those around them try to provide it. I know others who lack tact, and the rest of us try to perfect diplomacy to offset this.

For Tara, we share our imaginations, and sometimes, that makes her smile. Listen in . . .

In the drawer, moonbeams

The moonbeams were found by Liam. Your brother was three going on four when he began to peek into drawers at night, at bedtime. We had a tradition, not a long one by adult standards, but one as long as a lifetime for Liam, that we always, always had a bedtime story. Sometimes these came from books with bright pictures, little trains that could climb hills, small blue trains that had to watch out for cows on the tracks and bigger meaner trains.

There were other stories, without books or pictures, that began “Once upon a time, in a land far, far away…” and there were tales told by Daddy, of a little boy on a magic carpet, who flew over a small village in Switzerland where he could see a familiar red slide at one end of town and a green one at the other end of town. He would fly over a beautiful, deep lake with cities at each end. They glistened in the light of dawn as he sailed home at the end of each adventure. Mummy sang along with the MacGarrigles from Canada, “Light, light, shining on the water, it wasn’t Paris or Rome…” These song-pictures were other children’s visions, their dreams of the world, but they seemed to match Liam’s.

And tigers, oh my!

“I’m going to get the story,” he said one night, pushing down inside the warm nest of covers. “Here it is! It’s in the tiger drawer.”
“Tiger drawer?”
“I have to be very careful”, and his voice sank to a whisper, “very careful when I open it, because they can leap out.”
“Leap out! The tigers?”
“No, the stories. There are lots of them.”
I was puzzled. This was the first I had heard of a tiger drawer. He whispered into the darkness, “Once upon a time there was a beautiful tiger who lived in a village.”
“I don’t think tigers usually live in villages.”
“This one did. In a village on Lake Geneva.”
“Are there tigers around Lake Geneva?”
I pondered this.
“Now it’s your turn,” he said, satisfied with himself.
And so we found, in a night drawer, a story of a tiger who lived on Lake Geneva in a friendly village, with fishermen who went out very early in the morning in a small green boat. They returned with nets filled with fish, and the tiger thanked them. Such politeness was normal in Switzerland, where children always remove their shoes before entering a house or apartment.

Train stories and beds don't always mix

Another night Liam opened the train drawer, which was so full it was hard to open and the engines had a “tendency” to roar out into the room.
“Does that mean they like to do it, or they just do it often?” I asked.
He was too busy getting them under control to reply.
The next night he chose the turtle drawer because it was easier. Quieter.
“There aren’t too many turtle stories in here,” came Liam’s muffled voice.
“But the good thing about this drawer,” and in the dark his voice came up out of the covers and landed gently on the pillow, along with a stuffed turtle whose soft shell was red and yellow and green, “the good thing, you know, is that when you pull one out, two more jump in!”
“So if we want to take another one out tomorrow or the next night, there will always be at least two more in there?”
“No, more!” In the dark I could not see Liam’s grin, but I could hear it.
“Ten! A hundred!”
Liam had learned to count, and to use fancy words. Ten was big, but one hundred was huge.

There were suddenly drawers with tigers and turtles and trains, and each one had a story. When you pulled it out you left room for two more. These night drawers were truly magical because, Tara, as you know, when you empty your cupboard, or pull everything out of your drawers, they stay empty until someone tidies up after you. Sometimes, of course, we work on it together.

Cimmaron, silver, bronze and rainbows

And then the chest of drawers got bigger. We had animal and toy drawers but we suddenly we also had colors and numbers and shapes. One night Liam would tell me he was looking in the red drawer, where we might find a scarlet story or a cinnamon story because Grandma had given us some tiny cinnamon candies to put on Christmas cookies and they were very red. The next night he would ask for a story and let me pick the drawer.
“What’s that?”
“I’m not sure, but they have it in Arizona, where there are Indians, and where Grandma and Grandpa live. I think it’s the color of the dust, or the crazy buttes, those funny hills.”
“Okay, not cimmaron. Silver.”
“No, that drawer is stuck tonight.”
“Well, bronze would be nice.”
“Oh. That one is busy. There is something going on in there.”
“I have an idea. If you look hard I think you’ll find a rainbow drawer, one with lots of colors.”
A snuggling down kind of noise. And then a very small under-the-covers voice.
“Here it is. Yes, I can open it.”
So we had a rainbow story.

You can hear it tomorrow, if you listen carefully. And you never know when the moonbeams will appear.


Anonymous KCWall2 said...

This is just beautiful. It must have brought a HUGE smile to Tara's face.

1:06 AM  

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