Friday, 13 May 2011

EXPERIENCE IS THE BEST TEACHER

Life has radically changed for the average person over the last hundred-and-fifty years. Our houses are now constructed by professional builders. We heat and cool our homes by adjusting a few controls. We cook dinner using radio waves. Most of us shop rather than grow, raise, and hunt for our own food too.

In my Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) memoir, I wrote about a field trip in 1969 that gave my classmates and me a glimpse of what life in Canada's pioneer days was like. Of course, my classmates and I didn't have to work from sunup until sundown as the settlers did. Additionally, I wouldn't have envied their ability to burn wood in their stoves if I had to chop it first. Nevertheless, it was a lesson that I never forgot.

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On one of our school field trips, we went to a museum where they were constructing a replica of a log cabin. The curators invited us to help build it. I enjoyed splitting the precut cedar logs to make shakes for the roof. The way the wood split so easily along its grain fascinated me. In my previous attempts at cutting boards, I always sawed across the grain. The wood also gave off a wonderful aroma. I felt tempted to dawdle and inhale its scent.

The staff allowed us to handle some of the tools and examine the kitchen implements. The wood stove reminded me of the one Scotty owned except that his was coated in gold-coloured enamel. I envied folks who were able to burn wood in their stoves.

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Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. Click here to read more about this book and to order it. You may also e-mail me directly if the comment form doesn't work.