January 21, 2014

Call me Ishmael...

I had great fun attending the baby shower of a dear friend's daughter in Chicago over the weekend. The invitation asked that guests bring a baby book instead of a card, which I thought was a lovely and practical idea.  I won't tell you how long I lingered in Barnes and Noble, flipping through baby book after baby book to choose the perfect book, but I will confess that it certainly got my "grandmother juices" flowing!  I was simply staggered by how many new beautiful baby books there are, on top of all the classics that a nursery library needs.  I'm not quite sure which category this book falls into, because it is an old classic that has been re-imagined in a very creative, fuzzy feltish toddler-friendly way...

When I saw this book, it made me laugh out loud.  I was not familiar with the new series of "classic" baby board books, ranging from Moby Dick to Pride and Prejudice to Jane Eyre to even Kafka.  Yes, Kafka! Don't ask...(bugs...lots of metamorphosing bugs...).

We have always had a fondness for good ol' Moby  at our house.  When my older two boys were quite young I took an American Literature class for fun and one of the novels was MD.  As part of an assignment I also had to rent the movie, and one wintry afternoon the two boys and I snuggled up on the sofa to watch the Gregory Peck classic.  Which, by the way, contained nary a one white felt sail, but isn't this picture cute?!

Boat - Moby Dick (Fall 2012)

I thought they would soon lose interest but the story captivated them and after that, they just couldn't get enough of the white whale to satisfy their adventurous little hearts.  The new rallying cry from the Pequod (aka our living room sofa) was...

"There she blows!--there she blows! A hump like a snow-hill! It is Moby Dick!"

Find - Moby Dick (Fall 2012)

So while yesterday my memories were tinged with nostalgia about my daughter's Christmas ornaments, today I'm happily remembering two giggly little boys, madly chasing each other with harpoons (empty paper towel tubes) around and around, sometimes limping like Ahab, other times using washable markers to resemble Queequeg.  I wish I had thought to take more pictures when they were little, but honestly we were having too much fun to bother posing for the camera.  But they looked kinda sorta like this, except with a sofa for a ship and a cardboard tube for a harpoon, and they were (at most) only 3 feet tall...

Friedrich von Lebebur As Queequeg

My oldest son thought Ahab's vow to chase Moby Dick halfway around the world was simply "awesome" and he loved to run around the house, shouting "Aye, aye! and I'll chase him round Good Hope, and round the Horn...till he spouts black blood!"  It didn't matter a whit that he didn't know what Good Hope (or the Horn) was, the main emphasis was to enthusiatiscally and rather blood-thirstily shout black blood.   That sounded way cooler than regular old red blood. Little boys can be so gruesomely delicious, can't they? 

And when my father returned home from a successful fishing expedition, their little eyes grew quite round and their little mouths opened in stunned awe when their grandfather proudly showed them Moby Dick in the freezer, wrapped in aluminum foil. Never were two little boys more impressed with the contents of a basement chest freezer and the rainbow trout  whale hunting prowess of their grandfather.  You are so right, Mr. Carson--this is what the business of life is all about...the acquisition of sweet and crazy whale chasing memories!

Atlantic Ocean as viewed from the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown, MA.  Quote from Moby Dick, by Herman Melville.

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