There is a direct line between this blog and a sunny Saturday morning many years ago in which I lie in a bed covered by crispy linen, in my favourite pyjamas, a little bell around my neck to mark Vrbica*, and a huge plaster around my itchy leg. My sister had gone with our great aunt to an entertainment park and a day of special treats as children do on Vrbica. In my memory of that morning, there is my smiling mum giving me a book as a special offering. The book is solid, but light, with yellowish pages, which emanate that odour of old, printed paper. On the light brown cover are engraved letters
Jane Eyre. My first adult book.
A life of a mind starts and grows through numerous ordinary moments -- cuddling with mum and a book on a rainy day, an unrefrained stream of consciousness delivered to a patient grandmother, picnic with an aunt when we investigated what lied under the rocks. Mothers and other mothers** in our young lives who used books to turn moments of disadvantage into joyous life-long memories, who answered our numerous questions, sang with us and told us stories ignited our love of learning well before we started school and nurtured our special interests throughout childhood. In hind sight, there is a straight line between them and our adult lives as librarians, teachers, academics, inventors, artists and, in all of that, researchers. Because, what is research but a form of learning?
To mothers and other mothers – all the women who nurture children and their curiosity – thank you. You are the mothers of LARKs.
*'Lazarus Saturday (Vrbica) falls on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, which is always the sixth Sunday of Great Lent. It is dedicated to the memory of the resurrection of Lazarus of Bethany and of Christ entering Jerusalem, where children waited to greet him. This is exclusively a holiday for children, who go to church that day and their parents buy them bells bound by ribbons in the colours of the Serbia flag and place them around their necks.'
**Rachel McLean told me how her large family celebrates Mothers' and Other Mothers' Day.