Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Creative writing

I've decided to do a lot more writing this coming year than I did with Jacob last year. I'll be giving creative writing assignments as part of English. I started last week with an assignment I called "Sound."

To give the kids an idea of what I wanted them to write, I lay down with laptop in bed one night and typed out the following essay:


Describe a sound and the emotions it evokes.

The train whistle is such a melancholy sound when I hear it hooting in the night, its haunting sound echoing in the distance. A train’s far-away hoot tears at my heart, evoking memories of my distant childhood, days of innocence and happiness that I experienced at my grandparents’ cottage every summer, days that I can never bring back with people who have long departed this earth.

I grew up in cities “on asphalt,” as my husband would say. Toronto. Chicago. Sidewalks. Cars. Subways. Traffic. But when summer came, my parents packed up the kids and we drove north of Toronto into the green countryside and spent blissful summer days surrounded by nature at my grandparents’ cottage. After a full day of swimming with my family, hiking in woods with my dad, playing with friends, catching frogs, eating the evening meal with extended family, and perhaps even a campfire, I would turn in with my sister in the front bedroom – the bedroom closest to the distant woods that had a train track. I had seen the tracks during a long hike. And there in the bedroom with the ceiling tiles that had rows of black holes that I often stared at, as I relived the day’s events in my mind or drifted off to sleep, I would hear it – the train whistle blowing from faraway in the night, beckoning me. Where was it going? And even then, when I was just six or seven, I wanted to be on that train. I wanted to go to distant lands, to experience the adventure of travel, to be someone I wasn’t and somewhere I wasn’t. The train’s call struck a chord of longing in me even then.

I can never hear a train whistle in the night without feeling that I’m just a small child laying in a quaint cottage with my parents nearby and my sister in the bed near me, content after a long summer day.

With every whistle of the train comes a flood of poignant memories…

1 comment:

Dana said...

Similar feelings about train whistles here...they always make me feel like I'm home because I used to stay up listening to the distant blowing of the horns as a kid.

Sounds like a great assignment!

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
— Albert Pike, Scottish Rite Freemason (1809-1891)