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I was a late grandparent and thought it would be a good idea to give Nora something to remember me. She was born last November, but who knew? By the time she is old enough to remember me, I may not be around anymore. A lasting legacy is clearly in order.
So I asked talented Kingston cabinetmaker Tim Soper to create something special, elegant and functional.
Just before Nora was born, he brought a beautiful cherrywood box. When raised, the top stays open and is no danger to little fingers. The box has dozens of fine finger joints and many polished brass fittings. I found a guy who made trophy plaques and Tim managed to mount the engraved plaque flush on top of the “Nora’s Bookcase”.
I stuffed my granddaughter’s gift books。 BOARD AND CRUMPED BOOKS FOR BABIES. A picture book of memories of my childhood with Nora’s mother Sonia. Books for beginners as well as YA fiction. The plan worked: Nora became obsessed with books on her first birthday. The books were good to chew, and soon she was staring patiently at the illustrations while her parents read to her.
I hope Nora’s interest in books continues. It’s clearly part of her genetic heritage. Her maternal great-great-grandfather ran a small library focused on the American Civil War, while her paternal great-great-grandfather was active at the Mechanics Institute in Montreal, which later became the Atwater Library. Her great-grandmother became volunteer chairperson of the Montreal Children’s Library. I always borrow library books and write some.
By the time Nora was my age, the end of the 21st century was just around the corner. I hope she keeps the family legacy and our interest in books alive. She will definitely keep her book box. I don’t know if she will have children or grandchildren. In fact, many people are thinking about the future of the planet, reconsidering the once unquestionable idea of having children.
If Nora does choose to have children, I hope her box is still full of books. I can’t bring myself to believe the gloomy predictions about the demise of the printed word. I’ve seen toddlers entrusted by irritable parents to hours of solitary scrolling, gazing at engaging videos riddled with ads. Surely the future will see parents and grandparents still taking time for those intimate page-turning sessions? Questions about stories and pictures are invited. Laughter and curiosity about Enid Brighton’s Distant Trees and AA Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood. And, of course, endless mysteries and magic.
We can’t predict what the end of the century will look like, but there are plenty of portents. Will Nora’s world feel like a dystopian sci-fi apocalypse?
Birds fell from the sky during India’s latest heatwave. This year, floods have destroyed four million acres of crops in Pakistan. These signs are also evident in the home. British Columbia has been ravaged by fire and flooding. A record-setting hurricane ripped the coasts of Newfoundland and PEI. Rapidly melting northern permafrost is producing unimaginable emissions of carbon dioxide and methane, a dire carbon bomb.
I worry if today’s elders – people of a certain age like me – don’t act climate Future generations will judge us harshly for it while we can still break down.
As elders, we need to question what it means to retire. It shouldn’t just be about leaving the labor force. I think getting involved in emergency work to provide meaning and purpose during dangerous times is a really good idea. There are many things to do.
Last year, I took on a new identity. I am an elder now. I started my first campaign playing an old sage who was perhaps megalomaniac.I added a file named Seniors Taking Climate Action Now, or scan. The suit has doubled in size since I joined. Volunteering kept me from too many naps when I helped compile a list for SCAN of 33 “climate crimes” from the Ontario government. Since then, there have been many Zoom meetings. (“You’re muted!”)
Meanwhile, Nora and Sonia move to Nova Scotia. I’ll be headed East soon for Christmas with more books in that box as presents.I just noticed a Old enough to save the planet.
Hope that with each book she pulls out, her literary treasure chest is not the same as Pandora’s box; an ominous vessel of Greek mythology that, when opened, unleashes conflict and despair into the world. In contrast, I hope that Nora’s box will always contain a priceless treasure: hope.
I look forward to sitting down with Nora and feasting tongue twister. Dr. Seuss’ ingenious ominous eco-fable tells the story of an insatiable Once-ler’s need for more and more “Thneeds” (pronounced fossil fuels). The result is the destruction of Barba-loots, Humming-Fish and Truffula trees. tongue twister Not hopeless — the Truffula seeds are still there. But the wildly popular book ends with a warning:
“It’s not going to get any better unless someone like you really cares. It doesn’t.”
Jamie Swift lives in Kingston, Ontario.