Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Opal Whiteley's works and web sites
I couldn’t believe it when I found these sites on the net. Back in 1995 I read “The Singing Creek Where Willows Grow” By Opal Whiteley who was a child when she wrote the diary. Most of it was written on bits of brown paper bags and scraps of paper and it appears her mother was uneasy at her daughter’s writings. Opal died aged 91 - I believe a few years back so her childhood in country USA in the early years of last century is a record of the goings on inside her world…and understandably her mother was concerned…as Opal wrote about the animals and grass and trees as living conscious beings.
Might not be your cup of tea but I just immersed myself in this book for some time reading and re reading it…. Benjamin Hoff who wrote the Tao of Pooh (as in Winnie the pooh type pooh) did an excellent job and its worth a look if you want to see inside the head and world of an exceptional child from less sophisticated times. It rang a bell with me because my own mum, an only and very lonely child with no mother and an older father…wrote stories in an exercise book about the creatures around her father’s farm. Wouldn’t I give my eyeteeth to have them today and for them to have been preserved? But the lady who looked after mum when her dad worked destroyed them in the fire??? Why? What on earth could a child have written which could upset an adult so much? Then I wonder about that.
But Opal’s works were saved, by chance…and this little girl did have her voice heard.
NOTE: All page numbers refer to Benjamin Hoff's The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow, published by Penguin Paperback Books, 1995.
LICHEN VOICES (Page 194)
Lichen is the moss that grows on rocks and trees in the Northwestern United States. Seven year old Opal correctly notes that it grows much faster in the wet winter than summertime.
As I did go along, I saw many gray rocks. Some gray rocks had gray and green patches on them. Some of these patches had ruffles around their edges. The gray patches on gray rocks are Lichens.
Lichen folks talk in gray tones. I think they do talk more when come winter days -- I hear their voices more in December than I do hear their voices in July and June-time. Angel Father did show me the way to listen to lichen voices.
Most grownups don't hear them at all. I see them walk right by in a hurry, and all the time, the lichen folk are saying things; and the things they say are their thoughts about the gladness of a winter day. I put my ear close to the rocks, and I listen. That is how I do hear what they are saying.
Then I do take a reed for a flute. I climb on a stump -- on the most high stump that is near. I pipe on the flute to the wind what the lichens are saying. I am piper for the lichens that dwell on the gray rocks, and the lichens that cling to the trees grown old.
GOING TO SCHOOL (Pages 113,160,176)
The one room schoolhouse Opal attended is still standing. She was a brilliant student, despite often getting into trouble for daydreaming and bringing her pets to school.
Today I do sit here at my desk, while the children are out for play at recess-time. I sit here and I do print. I cannot have goings to talk with the trees that I mostly do have talks with at recess time. I cannot go down to the river across the road, like I do sometimes at recess-time. I sit here in my seat. Teacher says I must stay in all this whole recess time.
I was quite late to school. Teacher made me stand in the corner with my face to the wall. I did not mind that at all. There was a window in that part of the wall. It was near the corner. I looked at my book, sometimes. Most of the times I looked out the window.
I had seeing of little plant folks just peeping out of the earth to see what they could see. I did have thinks it would be nice to be one of them, and then grow up and have a flower, and bees a- coming and, having seed-children in the fall.
I have thinks this is a very interesting world to live in. There is much to see out the window when teacher does make one stand in the corner to study one's lesson.
THE DAYS OF BROWN LEAVES (Page 138)
This diary entry describes the transition from fall to winter - the evolution of life from birth to death and rebirth, and how nothing in nature ever really dies.
The Clouds go slow across the sky. The water goes slow in the brook. No one seems to be in a hurry. Even the wind walks slow. I think she wears a silk robe today - I can hear it's faint rustle. I think the wind is dreaming, too. With the whispering leaves, she sings a dreamsong. This is a dream day ...
Now are come the days of brown leaves. They fall from the trees; they flutter on the ground. When the brown leaves flutter, they are saying little things. They talk with the wind. I hear them tell of their borning days, when they did come into the world as leaves.
Today they were talking of the time before their borning days of this springtime. They talked on and on, and I did listen to what they were telling the wind and the earth in their whisperings.
They told how they were a part of earth and air, before their tree-borning days. And now they are going back. In gray days of winter, they go back to the earth again. But they do not die. And in the morning of today it was that I did listen to these talkings of the brown leaves.
Then I faced about. I turned my face and all of me to the way that leads to the house we live in, for there was much works to be done.