Thursday, March 15, 2007

Van Gogh Cafe

We had a brief (too brief!) glimpse of spring this week. Two near 60 degree days in a row - then snow again. I'm used to it living in Western New York - but it was just enough to remind me that this world is full of miracles. The snow melts away and exposes the earth and flower buds to sunshine, which stretch and awaken brightening the dull colors of mud. Before long, the branches that have been weighted down with snow will be uplifted with glorious blooms. The air smells cleaner, fresher, newer. And people emerge from their homes to walk dogs, jog, bike. We see our neighbors again and stop to talk. In general, everyone just seems happier.

The Van Gogh Cafe reminds me of these miracles. A somewhat lesser known book by Cynthia Rylant, it tells the story of a small cafe in Flowers, Kansas run by Marc and his 10-year-old daughter Clara. The cafe is the site of a former theatre - which is what makes the cafe magical. The story of a possum, the power of a lightening strike, magic muffins that feed children in a snowstorm, and wayward seagulls are among the stories that give life to the Van Gogh cafe. Each tale weaves into the next, with the mystery revealing itself in the last chapter.
This is a wonderful book to teach about ideas - but more importantly to remember the magic that surrounds us.

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