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On Tour

April 21, 2008

Glenmerry Elementary School
Posted by David Jones

Today,  we drove to Trail for our first scheduled reading. On the way from Nelson, we encountered our second blizzard, although thankfully the snow isn’t sticking to the roads. But even after the highway drops down out of the low pass and into the Columbia River valley where the town is located, it looks pretty bleak. The olive-coloured river, the dull green of the conifers smudging the brown rock that is the reason for this mining town’s existence, the grey skeletons of larches—they’re the colours of camouflage, mountains trying to hide themselves. I’m thinking this place must be quite beautiful in summer. Or maybe in fall, when all those larches turn yellow, or even in the dead of winter when it’s blanketed in perfect white. But we have definitely arrived in the grey season.

But just as we approach our destination–Glenmerry Elementary—the sun breaks out from behind the clouds. It’s recess, and the schoolyard is filled with shouting kids in their colourful clothes—okay, a few of them are wearing camouflage. Probably here as part of some kind of witness relocation program: “Have you seen Trail in early spring, chief? No one will ever find them there.”

The bell sounds just after we pull into the parking lot, and all the children are sucked back inside the school like fry into an Egyptian mouthbreeder.

As I’m walking down the hall toward the Library, I’m thinking I ought to be more nervous, but somehow the sight of all the kids settling back into their classrooms makes it impossible to worry about anything. I haven’t been in a place so full of life and enthusiasm in a long time. I glance inside one of the rooms and several kids are huddled around a hamster or a gerbil cage. They’re so enthusiastic and absorbed in the animal and each other that the notion that whatever I say or write could affect them seems preposterous, but a moment later we’re greeted by the school’s teacher/librarian, Louise Sidley, and she reminds us that children are as passionate and enthusiastic about reading as adults are. Looking around at all of the colourful artwork covering the walls in the school’s perfect library, proclaiming the value of books and reading, you don’t doubt it for a second.

And then they’re all pouring into the room, arranging themselves in rows, sitting cross-legged on the floor and studying you with their eager eyes, like nestlings waiting for the worm, and you know why you’re here.

It’s great to be on tour.

Filed under: Kootenays Leg 2008 | 1 Comments | Permalink


Apr 22, 2008 at 02:51 PM

I’m lovin’ yer blogging! First entry was a scream. Carry on, laddie!...K

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