Sunday, 26 August 2012

Soaking up the Sun

There is a story for children, by Leo Lionni, about a group of mice who spend the summer gathering resources so they don't starve in the long, cold winter. One of these mice, Frederick, sits on a rock in the sun, collects colours and words and other things.  When the other mice ask what he's doing, he replies that he is gathering memories of the summer to keep them going later. The other mice laugh and carry on harvesting.  Later, when the winter comes, the mice have their reserves to fall back on, but eventually these are depleted as well. The mice are cold, hungry and scared, but Frederick reminds them of the feel of the summer sun and the smell of the fields and all the beauty that will come and they warm up and survive the winter.

On the last day of my visit, Jules catches me looking out from the balcony and says that I remind her of Frederik the mouse: storing up memories to take back with me.  When she was pregnant her midwife reminded her of this story and told her to store up memories of good times so that when hard times come the family have something to fall back on, something to warm them up inside.  She says that this advice reminded her to keep her perspective when things were difficult and to appreciate wonderful things while they were happening, to notice the beauty around her.

Before we left for the bus, Jules hands me a small tupperware container. 'This is your Frederiken', she said, 'the flower for beauty, the lavender for smell and the tomato for taste.  Now you have something to take back with you, to remind you.' 

Store up beauty in our hearts for when we need it

Thank you for the reminder, these memories will keep me warm through the days where it feels like winter in my heart. I can still smell the lavender now....
What would be in your Frederiken?

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