Holling C. Holling wrote children’s books that educated children about the world around them.
There was Tree in the Trail which was the story of the American move west. The central character was a cottonwood tree. Seabird explored the life of a bird of the oceans. Minn of the Mississippi was a turtle who traveled from the big river’s headwaters to the Gulf of Mexico. Pagoo told the story of tide pools through the eyes of one of the inhabitants.
The most cherished of my HCH collection was Paddle to the Sea. Paddle was a hand carved canoe complete with an occupant that looked like the First Nation boy that carved him. He was left, intentionally, at Lake Nipigon, Ontario with an inscription on the hull that read:
“Please put me back in the water. I am Paddle-to-the-Sea”
The snow melts and Paddle begins his journey through the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.
I was moved, even as a child, by all the people who obeyed the inscription and helped Paddle get to the sea. I have read the book several times as an adult remembering the feeling of being close to my grandfather, safe in that home while I explored the Great Lakes through Paddle’s adventures.
As an adult, I knew it was an educational story, that there really was no Paddle but I reread the story for a return to those feelings.
Today, in a world that can cause one to become callus and cynical, I had a real life touch of what Paddle must have felt (for a wooden boat) when he reached the Atlantic.
Something that I created. Something that I worried over and fussed about and that frustrated me during its creation, reached its destination.
The Edward Bransfield Commemorative Tartan, in the form of a scarf, was christened in the Bransfield Strait, Antarctica by my friend and collaborator, Jim Wilson.
I feel like that First Nation boy when, years after the launch of Paddle, a newspaper reported the finding of the carved canoe in the Atlantic. Humbled and in such awe of the ways of the world.
Thank you to all the members of the Remembering Edward Bransfield Committee. This has been an incredible journey.