Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

Going back to Narnia

I watched Shadowlands many years ago but there's a scene I have always remembered. C.S. Lewis is sitting in (what I figure to be) Magdalana College in their Great Hall. He's at a long table eating with all his colleagues. His book has just been printed and they start attacking it intellectually. Everything rolls along fine- they attack, he rebuffs, all college-y goodness till someone scoffs at the wardrobe scene. What is the wardrobe scene supposed to represent? Enlightment of the mind? They dilly-dally around a little more till C.S. Lewis grows short and he says, 'No, it's magic. That's all it is. Magic. Nothing else.'

And really, every time Lucy walks through the back of wardrobe, that's all I can think. Pure magic. And perhaps that's where C.S. Lewis was truly brilliant. He didn't dally around with symbolism on this. He knew what was true and stuck to his guns in front of his colleagues. 'Magic. That's all it is. Sheer magic. It just happens.'

And I'm wondering if this 'magic' is a trait common to all really good stories. Things just happen- they do and for no symbolic reason. They just happen one day.

Of course, I cling to this because I too want to walk into the world that lies behind the coats in the wardrobe. I too want to be staring at a painting and have it suddenly pull me in. And I too want to be sitting at a train station and suddenly get sucked into Narnia. It's magic. Nothing else. It just happens.

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Life Lessons from a Cardinal

Outdoor living is coming in fits and starts now that it’s June. Last week it was in the 90’s (30C) and today it is gentle and cool with thunderstorms passing by north and south, bringing coolness in the wake of their stormy skirts. The sun shines but the thunder rumbles nearby and my cats retreat farther indoors to snooze on chairs instead of near windows.

It is tempting to join them. The heat break means that deep good sleep is possible again. Even with air conditioning, I sleep poorly when it’s hot. I sleep best when it rains.

And it has been raining at night but in great torrid thunderstorms where the house shakes and the windows rattle. Sometimes I lie in bed as the thunderstorms march by and wonder at the fate of all the creatures and people living outside.

It is summer and I have no arguments with it. It’s too hard to argue with the seasons. On the beautiful days, I sip my breakfast tea outdoors and watch the birds and squirrels to start my day. There’s always a drama playing out in the backyard. My favorite is the cardinal who walks along the deck rail, casting his bright black eye here and there and then breaks into song until a robin kicks him out. When the coast is clear, he returns and does the same thing all over again. Despite my nearness, he doesn’t mind me at all and I adore his bright red plumage and courageous laughing heart. His song cheers my soul and I’ve come to recognize his particular song. It falls under the same lines as all cardinals but it has a bit of improvised trill at the end. I think he’s been hanging out with song sparrows and got Ideas.

He’s a hard individual to photograph (all flash and movement) but I’ve shared a photo of a cardinal from National Geographic so you can get the idea. He’s hard to ignore and is a permanent on the robins’ blacklist. I aspire to such a level of happy insouciance.

How to Get Through a Big Book

How to get through a Big Book and have a little fun too.

  1. Make and eat food mentioned in the book (big books always include food, usually in meticulous detail).
  2. Read a little bit each day.
  3. Make a soundtrack.
  4. Dress like a character from the book for a day. Or a week. Or a month if it really grabs you.
  5. Ten minutes to kill? Daydream about the landscape or what the characters are seeing as they move through their day.
  6. Read passages you enjoy out loud. If you’re in the right mood, record yourself reading passages and share it (Instagram is great for this). Include illustrations if you like (thank you, Shirin).
  7. Whip out a highlighter or some sticky tabs for those great parts.
  8. Pace yourself and remember, reading gigantic books isn’t a race. It’s about the journey. Might as well bring along snacks, good drinks, great lighting, and enjoy the ride.