I'm happy to welcome Liz Adair to the Thursday Thought Spot today.
In the mid-1970s I taught school in a remote hamlet in Pacific Northwest timber country. Many of my students were grandchildren of people who had immigrated to Washington from the woods of North Carolina in the early decades of the twentieth century. They had no TV reception and little other outside influence to dilute the customs and speech patterns they had brought with them.
I went in feeling sorry for these children, sure that they were disadvantaged. I was appalled when I discovered that few of my students knew what Camelot was, and I embarked upon a broadening campaign, trying to stuff them full of all I felt they had missed. And then one day, I asked if anyone knew where to find morel mushrooms. Hands went up all around, and one boy, who up to that time had been reticent in class, opened up and told me not only about morel mushrooms, but about several other kinds. I still remember the look on his face as he let me into his world.
I realized at that moment that these kids weren’t deprived. They were just enriched in different areas. I was comfortable with books; they were at home in the woods. I’ve tried to remember that as I’ve met people with different backgrounds. We’re all rich, just in different ways.
I used that experience in my latest book, Cold River. Set in contemporary times, it’s about someone who takes over leadership of a school system in remote timber country in the Pacific Northwest. She has to learn the same lesson I did.
*Thanks Liz, that is fantastic and I love that you were able to use your experiences in your upcoming book!
Award-winning author Liz Adair lives in northwest Washington. She’s on LDStorymakers’ board of directors and chairs the annual Northwest Writers Retreat.