The Suitcase Lady


May 25, 2021, 9:41 pm

This weekend, Memorial Day, marks the start of our 25th year of living in our current house on the shore of Lake Michigan. That move was a right and happy one.

One of the factors that led to us living in the country was elephants. Elephants are not, of course, indigenous to Cleveland, Wisconsin. But they were, nevertheless, important motivators.

The journey started many years ago when I decided to have an “Elephant Week” at the preschool and kindergarten where I was teaching. I began by inviting several artist friends to make a piece of art with an elephant as the subject matter. I further suggested the work should be made with materials on hand in their studios and not take much of their valuable time to conjure up. They generously created elephants that I could show to my students as examples of the variety of styles and materials artists bring to a topic.

Francisco Mora’s Happy Elephant

Next, I rounded up a big stack of elephant books to read throughout the week. Horton, Dumbo, Babar and Elmer would all make appearances. I also brought my collection of folk art elephants and toys made by artists around the world.

At this point in my preparations, I suddenly realized that something was terribly missing. I needed to tell the kids some true science facts about the real animals that had inspired all the wonderful artwork and storybooks I had gathered.

I researched and wrote “5 Things We Should Know About Elephants”. I wasn’t trained as a science teacher, but that is the moment I got hooked on natural science. I immediately wanted to learn more facts on all sorts of animals, especially those that lived in my own backyard. From there, it was a short jump to wanting to create more habitat that would welcome animals into our yard. And, finally, my husband and I realized that the best way to do that was to move to the country. And we did.

2 Comments for this entry

  • Joan warren

    The Cleveland wildlife are the luckiest in WI because the Tooley Cafe is always open. What joy it brings to you and all your friends . Hope to see you on my next visit. Love, JW

  • Julilly W Kohler

    What a wonderful post—I always wondered the impetus fir your move from your wonderful house in Milwaukee. Curiosity drives you both. Awesome.

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