Taking Time for the Views

The town center of Clervaux is in a small valley. All around it are first sidewalks and then trails that lead up. Up to the castle, up to the church, up to the abbey, up to a ridge and then the ridge beyond. At practically every turn above the valley, there is a view down to the town below.

I had not been to the area since I was little when my family joined my grandfather as he retraced his journey during the Battle of the Bulge. Clervaux was not part of his war (which was in and around Bastogne), but being there reminded me of the trip. During their battle, the castle in Clervaux had been repeatedly bombed, only a hint of its palace and towers left. It is now restored and houses Steichen's Family of Man exhibit. 

Because of its history and collection of art and spas, the town is visited by older folks wanting to learn about the War while taking the air. That said, I also saw a scout troop on a scavenger hunt and a busload of school children that after impatiently listening about their meet-up time/location, all ran to the shops and restaurants to buy candy and pizza. Moments in time that complemented the Family of Man collection.

We were all there for the views.

A group of older people were traveling together. Our walks and late dinners would intersect. Taking the time to look at things is something that we take for granted as adults. Or do we? Sitting on a bench, I watched as one of the men -carefully and gingerly- navigated the stacked stones that led up to this small fenced perch overlooking the town. His companions waited for him, with expressions of "Here he goes again," on their faces as they leaned against the wall below to wait him out. In the way of a lot of European WWII battle torn cities, there are these little bits of rubble or constructions left to mark something that used to be there before the bombings. The stones were not easy to navigate and the railings, though secure, didn't look it. He tested each step up and tested the wrought iron. He then climbed to the peak of the large boulder you see in the photo and paused. He paused. And he looked. He TOOK in the view.

Taking in the view is a whole body experience. It is something that I see children do all the time. They EXPERIENCE the view with all their senses. It lands and saturates their little beings. I spend so much time observing children that it was a true joy to watch this older adult do the same. We hold our experiences dear, through and through.

A new school year is starting next week. I look forward to the view. I am wishing you many wonderful views.


The Edge Bitty

Today and over the next days, last year's Tracks class is beginning kindergarten. I wrote this post in our Week in Review in April 2012 after the class had a visit from some Tracks 2011 kindergartners. These ever-so-much-older children gave the Tracks the news about kindergarten. And it was mostly good, but it was still an "edge bitty."

This week...the children painted Klimt designs, they discovered new materials in the classroom, finished setting the stage in dramatic play, moved most of a ton of gravel, learned how to install a french drain, documented the construction of a dry creek bed, and almost finished that creek bed! A regular week in nursery school, familiar and comfortable.

What is an edge bitty? An edge bitty is the name of a bit of dark forest. It is named this by a group of children in one of Claire Warden's Inspirational Early Childhood posts (do visit, it is a quick and delicious read).

We had edge bitties when I was growing up. They were those places that we all agreed were just a little bit too far away from the familiar and outside our comfort zone. This also made these places incredibly alluring and we would plot and plan our trips to these edge bitties in order to head right into the known-unknown!

On Thursday, we had kindergartner guests into the Tracks to talk about kindergarten. Talk about an edge bitty! We hold this kindergarten presentation event each year. While on the surface it would seem that we want our current Tracks to learn about kindergarten, the event is planned to show the parents that children have been to the kindergarten edge bitty and lived to tell about it. It also serves the child presenters -- they gain perspective through the second look. They return to their school either through this or through summer camp programs and gain the knowledge..."I went to the edge bitty and lived to tell the tale!"

I cried when my oldest went to kindergarten and he did too. I cried again when my second went too, but he didn't. They both found their way. All of the children will have to -- and will be able to -- find their way to all kinds of edges and then find the way back again. Adults sometimes forget about the edge bitties and how once conquered, the feeling gained that is both overwhelming and satisfying through a sense of accomplishment.