Monday, November 07, 2005

I Knew Better

I remember when I learned why the sky is blue and that the world is round. That was when it started. It wasn’t long after when they revealed the mysteries of lightning and of thunder. A barrage of science came. I learned about atmosphere, of climates, and weather systems. I found out about the kinds of clouds and why they happen when they do. All the time they told me things, I listened . . . but I knew better.

I’d lived in this world for five years and I had my experience. I knew that land went down in places and in others it went up. But I’d yet to find a place where you could say the world was round. The sky was blue on some days. Did there have to be a why? It was glorious pink and purple too, and scary grey and black. They never once had mentioned that.

And thunder. Oh thunder was angels bowling, and lightning was like fireworks that made our back porch a theater. A whole family could sit and watch the light out in the sky. Anybody knows you’re not supposed to ask just how a magic trick is done.

Atmosphere was fun to say, but I knew they meant air. Try to fill a balloon with atmosphere to carry Dorothy home from OZ. Maybe she knew that’s what they used and that’s why she missed that balloon. Yep I bet that’s it.

Clouds could be so many things. They were for making up things from. One minute I saw dinosaurs, the next they were attacking aliens. Then with my very eyes I could make them vaporize, reappearing across the sky in another shape or size. Big and soft, flat and mean, clouds had as many traits as people. What was this talk of science?

Please stop talking and look up.

Why do grown-ups take the magic out of all the really wonderful stuff?

In the end, you could say they won. I learned their science well. In fact, I write the science books that tell kids why the sky is blue and that the world is round. I even reveal the mysteries of lightning and of thunder. Sometimes I find myself typing words like atmosphere and climate.

Although deep, down inside I really do know better.

I know the sky is every single color.

—me strauss Letting me be

29 comments:

Trée said...

Wonderful Liz. I remember when I first discovered that there were two names for the same water; that is, one name for the river and another for the gulf that the river flowed in. I must have been in second or third grade but I still remember staring at the text book wondering why two names for one thing. Where did the river end and the gulf begin. It made no sense to me then. I struggled in academic life for another twenty years trying to understand why two names were needed for one thing. Now, I see just the one thing again. I embrace my seven year old self and we sit together and I tell him he was right, the text books were wrong. There is just one, not two.

Liz, you bring so many memories out of me. Thank you child. :-)

ME Strauss said...

Hey Happy Man,
You are more than welcome.
smiles,
Liz

mergrl said...

Liz, great post!

Although deep, down inside I really do know better.

I know the sky is every single color.


thank you for reminding me not to let the science take the beauty out of life, its hard to do with your mind immersed in the science all the time. I try, but sometimes I forget. thanks.

ME Strauss said...

Hey mergrl,
No problem. You don't have to worry. I won't let you lose track of what's fun about the world.
smiles,
Liz

Autumn Storm said...

You had me floating on a cloud singing a lullaby.
Remembering when I used to see San Franciscos all the time and it didn't matter that people laughed at me, things were what I felt they were and that was all I needed to know.

Autumn Storm said...

(laughed at my own made-up words)

ME Strauss said...

Hi Autumn,
I'm delighted that you were cheered by this little piece.

I like it too.

smiles,
Liz

garnet david said...

Indeed. It takes work to undo all that science thinking.

Have you ever turned your head sideways and looked at a sunset? Your eyes see the colors freshly and more subtley. Try it sometime. Think of me.

ME Strauss said...

Hello G-
No I've never tried that.
But you can bet I will and I will.

smiles,
Liz

Bluesky_Liz said...

I have to disagree with people who say that science undos wonders and takes the beauty out of life. Being a person of science myself, I think science enhances the wonders, not take away from it.

Now don't take this the wrong way, I'm just sharing my view on things here, not looking for an argument or being a snob. :)

Yes I know why the sky is blue, dust in the atmosphere makes it that way. Don't you think it's amazing that it could turn out to be such a perfect shade of blue? Dust, for crying out loud! Just because I know how it works, does it make it any less beautiful? Not for me it doesn't. The laws that exist to make things the way they are, are wonderful themselves imho.

Science may not answer all questions, but the answers that science has provided is pretty amazing to me.

Who actually took the wonder out of science, science itself, or just people making science a dull subject? :)

Ned said...

Wonder and excitement at the mysteries is exhilarating. Science is intriguing and the answers seem almost as impossible as the questions.

But everyone knows why the sky is blue. Because if it were green, we wouldn't know where to stop mowing.

It's good Liz, to set aside what we give mental assent to, the reasons and whys, and to give in to what our hearts know.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Liz,

No worriws, I oouldn't write science books for kids if I didn't agree with you. In reality, the science part is fascinating to me too. Sometimes I long to turn it off though and go back to the time when I didn't know quite so much and I could look at the world with a kid's point of view. It helps me to write for them to be able to do that.

Trying to restate science concepts in literal language is and at a kid's reading level is labor intensive and takes out all of the fun of discovery. It's part of the reason that most science books are so boring--if you don't remember what it's like to be a kid you can just kill the fun.

Also I enjoy taking my irreverent side out for a spin in that tiny way too.

Don't ever stop telling me just what you think. Your thoughts are important to me and I can't imagine that you would ever offend me.

smiles,
Liz

ME Strauss said...

Hi, Ned, and Good Morning,

At the end of the day when I write these little essays, I tell my husband that its finally my time to write for me. Always I feel more refreshed and alive after writing them than I did when I started. So I guess, yeah, I would call that exhilarating. :)


I've often been grateful that the sky is not green, because I worried about walking off the end of the world.

smiles,
Liz

Jennifer said...

I think I skiped the science classes. Cause I don't know such words like atmosphere and climate. And the clouds take different forms so that I can fnd new images with in them. And thunder most definitely is the Angels playing bowling. The really loud claps of thunder are the Angels making strikes! I know so and nothing can change that.

I never was any good at science...I wonder why?

:)

ME Strauss said...

Hi Jennifer,
Is the coffee all right?

I think you did just fine at science, but that you did much better at storytelling and art. :)

Right this minute out my window the sky over the lake is filled with clouds my mother would describe as "sky blue pink" in color." Go figure that!

Smiles,
liz

Bluesky_Liz said...

>> I can't imagine that you would ever offend me.

It's better to be cautious, as one can never tell if one's post may sound offensive or nasty, although one's intention is merely to be honest. I have gotten into many misunderstandings before. :|


>> It's part of the reason that most science books are so boring--if you don't remember what it's like to be a kid you can just kill the fun.

I must be something of an odd ball then. :D lmao. As a kid, I never found science books or science textbooks to be boring. They were my favorite books in school. I only found the lessons not exciting enough, the teachers not enthusiastic enough. I would bug my parents to buy me those "Tell me why" books.

I can imagine a dragon in a cloud alright, and still see the cloud as a gathering of water molecules -- that's just perfectly fine by me. :P

ME Strauss said...

Oh Liz,
You're talking about real science books. I was talking about science
textbooks used in schools. They get dumbed down and boring because sometimes the folks who work on them care more about packing in the required content than they do making it interesting and accessible for the kids.

Real science books are fun! I'm right with you on that.

smiles,
liz

Bluesky_Liz said...

oh no, I'm talking about both.

"As a kid, I never found science books or science textbooks to be boring."

ME Strauss said...

Then you really did like science books. Either that or you had way better science school books than I did. Which is possible.

smiles,
Liz

Jennifer said...

I'm more of an Orange Juice person :) But I'll come join you for breakfast.

And I think sky blue pink sounds wonderful. We can add my orange-corn-beet leaves to it and we'll have one pretty picture to wake up to!

ME Strauss said...

Come on over there's still quite a few sailboats in the harbor and you're a perfect excuse for me to get away from the computer. :)

Kelley Bell said...

Paradox of description is the jet fuel of the mind.

In addition, I have always found it interesting that the things we value most, are the things that have the widest variety of words to describe them.

Like water for example: How many words are there in the dictionary for water?

Liquid, sea, ocean, river, stream, rain, vapor, mist, etc.

There are some cultures that don't have a single word for war.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Kelley,
I always so appreciate your take on things. It helps me feel grounded when I'm running around.

I like the way my mind has of juxtaposing science and wondering. I helps me keep my body and my soul together.

smiles,
Liz

easywriter said...

Everyone has said everything. :o)
I like to think there is always a little room for mystery and wonder.
The thing I liked best was the very last sentence. "I know the sky is every single colour. Sometimes it's just that glorious isn't it?

ME Strauss said...

Hi Easy,
Don't worry. Just a smile would have been enough.

Yeah sometimes it is just glorious and even when it's not--it is.

smiles,
Liz

melly said...

Er.... I guess I don't fit in here. I was different.
I asked the questions, I wanted the answers, science itself was my magic and wonderous world. So were books. My head was more often bent down, bburied inside a book rather than up, looking at the sky.
Very nice post, Liz :)

ME Strauss said...

Melly,
Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Lots of kids liked science books. Liz did too.

Oh Melly, you weren't any different than the rest of us. We were all pretty different as I recall.

smiles,
Liz

dog1net said...

Liz:
I love how you reminisce in this piece, and in the process, rediscover the innocense of childhood. In wonderment you discover the beauty of knowing "the sky is every single color." Neat.
Scot

ME Strauss said...

Hi Scot,
You sound light tonight.
Good to hear you.

Thank you for your lovely words. I know you know about the colors because you see them in the leaves.

smiles,
Liz