SUGAR HILL

When I made a trip from Florida to visit a newsgal pal, Deborah, who lived in New York City in the 1980s, one day I arranged to ride a bus to one of the city’s most fascinating neighborhoods, Harlem.

Harlem is connected to Florida in many ways but especially because Zora Neale Hurston, James Weldon Johnson, Augusta Savage and other talented cultural icons we share about with our kiddos in school, home & at the library, went from Florida to NYC & then onward in their great careers.

At that time, the only place

for them to be

in NYC

was Harlem.

Our Harlem tour was mighty fine. I have news of a new tour, with these introductory words by poet Carole Boston Weatherford:

                                                Sugar Hill Sugar Hill

                                                Where life is sweet

                                               And the neighbors smile

                                                   At all they greet!

The is from a rhyming tribute to a part of Harlem, Sugar Hill elegantly portrayed in images by artist R. Gregory Christie.

Both the poet and illustrator have earned a block full of children’s literature awards.  Not only have I given some of their books as gifts, but I was also fortunate to hear Ms. Weatherford read her poetry once.

If you are like me, you’ll want to read more of the rhymes. Until you can find this brand new picture book, here are some of Christie sketches for SUGAR HILL, HARLEM’S HISTORIC NEIGHBORHOOD, through the courtesy of the artist and, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.  Hope you book your tour.

Detour for the Sotomayor Kids

DETOUR FOR THE SOTOMAYOR KIDS

It runs in families, como una maldicion

*

The stories of Greek gods and heroes sustained me

that summer and beyond

*

In a room all closed up in glass

 a man stood breaking necks

one after another

and a machine plucked the feathers

*

Junior and I sat on the floor

surrounded by piles of books

like explorers at the base of Everest

 *

The feeling of the poem

came through

clearly

in the music of Abuelita’s voice

and in the look of faraway longing

in the faces of her listeners

 *

…in Abuelita’s

joyful generosity

her passion for life and poetry

her power to heal

*

Such strong women are no rarity in our culture

— found poetry, from MY BELOVED WORLD by Sonia Sotomayor, United States Supreme Court Justice

My favorite October read is about the only Supreme Court Justice who mixed supremely well with both the Fendi women of Italy and, the fiambrera women of Puerto Rico who packed lunchpails, fiambreras, for their families. What made the difference in the lives of Junior, and his big sister, Sonia? They were from the Bronx, once nicknamed Fort Apache, the sidewalks, playgrounds and school yards were so much a war zone during their childhoods.

Attend Dr. Barbara Heusel’s  outstanding book talk. Read the justice’s unflinching autobiography as an outsider at Princeton and Yale and a rookie prosecutor in New York City. Share with  younger readers  her story by Jonah Winter, with artwork from Edel Rodriguez,

DSCN5982

hurricane season

WHAT stories for young readers have hurricanes as the backdrop? We can always react to a seasonal interest with out of print books such as Hurricane Luck by Carl Carmer.  A review of the Katrina-inspired A PLACE WHERE HURRICANES HAPPEN, from Renee Watson in 2010, is here.

And thanks to the timely comment (see below) I’m pleased to post a link to a review and comment  on a new hurricane picture book,  A STORM CALLED KATRINA by Myron Uhlberg, with  illustrations by Colin Bootman.

For my current hurricane reading, I am taking cover against predicted rains from Lee, in the classic 1958 non-fiction from the Everglades’ protector, Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

YURACAN is only one word for the worrisome weather.

To fathom hurricanes, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas studied them for three years in league with the (old) Hurricane Research Project of the U.S. Weather Bureau, Miami.

As we seek from a legendary writer who herself was a force of nature, living until 108, her quest resulted in goodness – a 393-page nonfiction literary volume, HURRICANE.   And yes, the view of destruction on the back cover from my own prized volume is a blurry image from Montauk, Long Island.   So this older book has resonance for today, what with the recently departed H. Irene having discombobulated family & friends in New England.

I recommend the Douglas history of these killer cyclones. It is a keen read, especially for those recently/currently acquainted in a personal way with one. Some dear family &  pals went for days – almost a week for one family, without power.  So a history of indoor plumbing & the shower is more appreciated than ever in these times. But that’s another book.

Also, I can’t talk about hurricanes without sending you to read up on book loss at libraries, as a result of Irene. Be generous if you can, starting with information from an alert & talented author, whose pages I traveled to via an indispensible blog at  School Library Journal.

HURRICANE was first published in 1958. Douglas reports on a 1464 hurricane that dealt a coup de grace to Mayans.  She sails on from there, dropping anchor for interesting ports of call such as : “In 1790 on his trip down the Ohio, George Washington noted hurricane damage to the trees between Steubenville, Ohio and Wheeling, West Virginia.”

Her book reminds us/introduces us to Yuracan & other suspected sources of our term, hurricane, including the Indians we know as Caribs, the island dwelling Tainos  and the good people of Central and South America.  Her recounting of the beliefs about the gods of wind and storms fascinates.

Douglas also covers geography of past destruction, including a detailed section & maps of  “Hurricanes, North.” So the possibility of Irene’s interesting path away from Florida and up into the rivers of Vermont may have come as no surprise if we read our history, which of course we do, correct? No, not nearly enough.

from HURRICANE by Marjory Stoneman Douglas "A boat awash at Montauk, Long Island - photographed by The New York Times"

One of my favorite aspects of this book involves the stories of heroes who risk their lives to save people from injury and death as a result of hurricanes.

In looking backward with Douglas, it is clear how today’s forecast information, which, let’s be honest, we take for granted, would have been worshipped, cheered, embraced & yes, well-heeded in times past.

To not follow it today seems without enough regard for the first responders who can risk their lives in hurricane-affiliated rescues. And some of those stressful storm-soaked saves may be unnecessary, if only said stranded residents had heeded warnings.

We know much more about inevitable hurricanes today, than when Douglas wrote beautifully on them with that era’s limited knowledge, some 50 years ago. So this makes me ponder: What makes sense about new construction or rebuilding, in marshes, on riverbanks that flood hugely after strong sustained storms, on our coastal sands,  & in similar zones?

Despite the heft of this book, it is a fast-paced read. Especially in hurricane season, which lasts, I recall, through October.

It was reissued in 1976 and if you are pondering which library near you carries which edition, a fast way to look is with the wonderful World Catalogue  WorldCat http://www.world.cat.org

Full disclosure: Douglas personally charmed my reading club during her long visit with us, captured in a photograph of her on my sofa. I am in touch with most book group pals, but if I haven’t heard from you in ages, please give a shout.  I don’t have a functioning scanner at this moment but do want to get that photo up here. Please check back after the next few hurricanes! I expect to have it posted then.

In the meantime, check with your Red Cross folks, follow the forecasts & take a look at hurricane books.

mother earth

http://www.nmai.si.edu

Look at Eartrh Day 2010 events but also plan ahead for August 2010, Living Earth Fest

Earth Day Program
Honoring the Living Earth: Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Communities in Colombia

Thursday, April 22, 2010
12–1:30 p.m.
National Museum of the American Indian
Room 4018, Fourth Level
4th Street and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C.

This program will also be webcast live.

program flyer

CELEBRATE EARTH DAY with special presentations by Luis Gilberto Murillo-Urrutia and Dr. Alicia Rios Hurtado. Murillo was elected governor of Chocó, Colombia, at the age of 31 after successfully instituting pioneering programs to protect biodiversity and the tropical rainforest, and to defend the land rights of Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities.  As governor, Murillo won wide praise for his innovative proposals and strategies for sustainable development and environmental protection. He is currently the Vice President for Programs and Strategy at Phelps Stokes in Washington, DC.

Alicia Rios Hurtado has served as Vice-President for Research and Director of the Institute of Biodiversity at the Technological University of Chocó and currently leads the university research group on sustainable use of biodiversity. Dr. Rios Hurtado received Colombia’s prestigious National Award for Scientific Merit in 2004. She is one of the nine members of the National Council of Science and Technology, and is the only woman and the only Afro-Colombian on the Council.

Presented by the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in partnership with the Smithsonian Latino Center and the Embassy of Colombia.

To RSVP or for more information, please email NMAI-SSP@si.edu.

happy earth day copyright Jan Godown

Florida Christmas tree 2

Last year the Florida Christmas tree posted on this blog shone with lights.

No branches. Strings of lights at the Cedar Key marina

glowing in the dark like a beacon.

c. Jan Godown Annino

c. Jan Godown Annino

Now for a tree like none you’ve ever seen,

I’ve reprised an image I took years ago, during a visit with

Betty Mae Tiger Jumper in South Florida.

This tree stood tall in the Seminole Tribe of Florida

headquarters, with a palm tree nodding nearby.

The tree is typical. Maybe yours is tall & green.

Red bows are standard. So are basic balls.

But the dolls!

How many trees have you seen, where dolls are the decoration.

Handmade dolls.

Dolls made with palm fibers. And dressed to represent

Seminole patchwork clothing. For the textile, fabric art

& history buff this tree is  worth a detour.

(Respect copyright. All rights reserved with these images.)

This is a little visit, here.

Or maybe it will inspire you to plan your trip.

c. Jan Godown Annino all rights reserved

c. Jan Godown Annino all rights reserved

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

5 million minutes

Until JUNE 30 you & your family can read together for travel prizes including a FLORIDA trip.

http://www.rif.org/

You’re going to read with them anyway!  See how quickly you can reach the 5 million words read goal.

For more fun this summer,  join a Read With the Kids team.

(we  suggest Al Roker’s team  because we’ve enjoyed watching him on TV since a chance meeting in the Yorktown Heights health food shop …)

~you’ve landed at the 2X monthly or so blog of writer jan godown annino

more info is at Hello.

Florida Christmas

A tree in CEDAR KEY

photo, Jan G. Annino  2008

cedar-key-christmas-tree-inside-0011

A pole.

A fishing net cast over a pole.

Seashells in the net.

(Let’s hope they are castaways &

weren’t taken live.)

Colored lights.

Cheers at Christmas.

The necklace of Cedar Key islands tip-toeing into the Gulf of Mexico are where cedar forests were lumbered-out for the world’s pencils (think Faber pencils, etc.)

So I like it that the village of Cedar Key’s marina tree

isn’t using up a living one.

Muir fans know the Cedar Keys as  the region where John

Muir regained his strength after his 1,000 mile walk to

the Gulf of Mexico.  I wonder if in his knapsack on that trip he

kept his journal with the assist of a Faber cedar pencil.

Greetings from Florida &  from  Jan G. Annino, a book-published writer of  creative-nonfiction,   new writer of children’s literature, at work on an  mfa in children’s literature from Hollins University.