Sense of Wonder

by Stefani on 10-June-2007


This illustration is from a book I picked up at Goodwill, “Mark and Michelle on Vacation,” by Marcel Marlier. It is FULL of gorgeous 70’s era illustrations of a little boy and girl exploring the natural world, alone, pink cheeked and romping through dark woods, over rocky crags, even paddling themselves down a murky looking creek. There is something at once endearing, inspiring and a little alarming about it. Where are their parents?

Flipping through it reminded me of a class I took in college entitled, “Mad Women in the Attic and Children Lost in the Woods.” It was an English Lit class designed to bring to light these common portrayels of women and children in literature, and to discuss the reasons behind them. It was fascinating. So much so that I still think of that class from time to time.

I remember that I did my final paper on the use of the word “creep” in the brilliant short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper”. I can’t look at wallpaper of any kind without thinking of it! (Go and read it, you won’t be sorry!)

With that in mind, I began to amuse myself by imagining what a course based on the life and times of a suburban stay-at-home mom and her banshees would be called. I think something like, “Mad Woman in the Laundry Room and Children in Need of Woods in Which to Get Lost.”

That’s not a jab at my children, it’s an honest assessment of their situation. They are woodsless.

I love my home. My husband grew up in it. I think it’s really cool that my boys sleep in the same room their Daddy did, roll in the same patch of grass he rolled in, use all the same spots for hide and go seek. When their Daddy was young though, our home was at the end of the known universe. There were a whole lot of trees, and not much else around, accept maybe a few of these:


(this photo is one of my Mom’s) She’s the source of my love of photography.

Now though, we are flanked by rows of homes, a new toll road, every chain store you can imagine, and the final insult, a spanking new three story office building behind our house. It used to be a field where we picked blackberries.


(these were from a pick-your-own farm last week)

What’s a girl to do? I tell you it does kind of leave you feeling trapped by the wallpaper, having no wide open spaces in which to roam.

I am reminded of something I read from David Sobel, “If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the Earth before we ask them to save it.”

One of the things I want most for my boys is for them to cultivate their sense of wonder, to never cease to be amazed, to stop and notice the world around them. And so, I pull over at the end of our street to let them watch the wild rabbits chew grass, even when we’re running late. I point out the Grackles that are building their nests of plastic bags in the Wal-Mart parking lot. And one caterpillar-turned-butterfly at a time, I ask them, for just a moment, to get lost in the (metaphorical) woods and to let me come along.


erin June 11, 2007 at 4:11 am

you are a good mom, stefani! and i want some of those blackberries – they look delicious.

Heather June 11, 2007 at 7:55 am

how lovely! I was just commenting on the “yellow wallpaper” thing to one of my friends last week. Funny to see it in print this week on your blog. It is hard to watch development encroach on all that is beautiful, old, and at one time pristine… especially if it is on top of your house! Where we live is so rapidly growing and changing that I am afraid there will be no unadulterated mtn. tops left.

Heather June 11, 2007 at 7:57 am

oh… and about your technical issues. I have not gone to the site yet to report this… sorry. It seems that the “operation aborts” when I try to comment and then I just click the “back” button and I get to comment. There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

Sarah June 11, 2007 at 2:19 pm

Ugh, I still have that operation abort message also.

This building of every single inch of green space around here makes me very, very sad. We have nothing left really. All the farms, the old houses, the beautiful old things are all gone, replaced by (always sitting empty) mini malls and parking lots. Sigh.

Stefani June 11, 2007 at 3:07 pm

I’m so sorry guys. I really can’t imagine what the trouble is with the comments thingy. I’m still working with the Typepad folks to figure it out. (Is that totally Texas to say “figure?”)

Newsflash: they’ve been mowing down the patch of woods at the end of our street. I thought maybe a gas station or something… nope, just making room for a billboard. Cuz there was a shortage, I guess. 🙁

dianeinjapan June 11, 2007 at 7:00 pm

Hmmm, that English lit class does sound very interesting! Sorry about all the development around your home–it’s similar where we used to live. Instead of the City or the Town, everything is becoming the Suburbs.

leslie June 11, 2007 at 9:42 pm

oh my gosh, pick me up off the floor! the short story “yellow wallpaper” was the absolute turning point in my college years to change from english lit to psychology… the absolute moment i KNEW that was what i would pursue a degree in. wow! love that story! i remember a discussion i had with my grandmother about it, such a powerful story for me. ok, now i am freaking out.

leslie June 11, 2007 at 9:46 pm

oh yeah, love that book! looks neat and i agree, i often wonder where the parents are???? 🙂 and for some reason my stats went from 40 a day to 78? a record!!! miss popular thing, you! xoxoxoxox

TICA June 12, 2007 at 10:55 pm

Those blackberries are the size of apples!! Growing up in California we had blackberries growing behind our house. Every morning we picked them to make a blackberry pie…though I never picked one as big as these! Wow, one blackberry would make a pie!

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