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Paying Attention

Tomie dePaola, the popular author of hundreds of children’s books, died recently.

His works were featured in my elementary classroom throughout my career. He reminded teachers to never talk down to children, to speak to them in a natural voice and not to shy away from difficult social subjects. His thoughtful and beautiful illustrations are filled with details that encourage children to look deeply at them. Indeed, Tomie dePaola makes a perfect at-home author study for children of diverse ages. The whole family, including adults, can enjoy these stories together.

“Strega Nona”, the story of a “grandmother witch” and her magic pasta pot, is his most beloved book. The character of Big Anthony, who did not pay attention, was dePaola’s cautionary tale for children. Big Anthony clamors for the praise of the crowd without thinking about the calamity his actions will cause. It is only the quiet, steady wisdom of Strega Nona that averts disaster.

May we be Strega Nonas in these difficult times, and strive to “pay attention”.

Strega Nona, which means “grandmother witch” in Italian, is a wise old women who has served her village will for many years. Hard-working and attentive, she would never forget the magic that would stop her pasta pot from boiling over.
Big Anthony does NOT pay attention. He forgets (or never hears) the magic that will stop the pasta from spreading all over the town, risking all those around him.

Emergence

The onset of Spring is visible in abstract patterns on and below the surface of our local ponds, now free of ice.

Finding a Way to Celebrate

There will be no parades or large gatherings in Massachusetts this St. Patrick’s Day due to the coronavirus. However, my neighbors have found a way to spread a bit of Irish cheer as individuals.

Ice Art

Reflections on the melting ice combine with objects floating in the water layer to create a multi-layered natural art work.

Bird Portraits

Digitally enhanced photos from even a simple point-and-shoot camera can appear like paintings. In addition to trying to achieve good photographs, I also enjoy creating transformed images of my favorite birds.

“Watercolors”

The meadow may be snowy (and more snow is on the way), but I am imagining the transformation from Winter to Spring and finally to a hot Summer’s day.

Stained Glass Blue Jay

Jewel-like colors can be found in lively meadow lands as well as quiet cloisters.
(Window photographed at St. Joseph’s Abbey, Spencer, MA.)

A Prague Sun in New England

The “Prague Sun” is the most valuable object in the collection of the Loreto Liturgical Treasures in the Czech Republic. This breathtaking Sun shape is made of a high gilded silver from 1699 and weighs over 12 kg. It is decorated by 6222 diamonds.
On a recent walk by a familiar stream, I was dazzled not by gilded silver or diamonds, but by glistening ice in sunburst patterns around a stone.
(Prague Sun photograph courtesy of Creative Commons.)

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