E received a new compass on Sunday. It’s just a little, plastic dime store trinket, and now that it’s been dropped a few times it spins erratically more than it guides, but she loves it nonetheless. We’ve been singing a little song we made up in the car one day when she asked if we were driving east or north. We change the words with every turn of the car, but the best verse is when we are driving “east, east towards the river”. She belts that one out with force. I think our city is very easy to navigate, in part, because I came to it as an adult, and had to make my way around with a map for awhile. Having such a significant body of water that forms the eastern boundary of the place helps to orient you even more than being aware of which direction is north. Other, less positive, directions are ingrained in the area as well. The affluence of west county, the actual and perceived dangers of the north side, the no-man’s land that is the east side; these influence our sense of direction perhaps even more than the location of the mighty Mississippi.
E seems to have been born with a pretty astute sense of direction. She has practiced this art from an early age in her bi- or tri-weekly visits to the botanical gardens with me or with school – visits that she could accurately describe, through a series of lefts and rights, to us at the end of the day. She navigates from the backseat as well, never failing to comment if we choose a different route to a known destination. More than once I’ve had my mind on something else and managed to pass a turn or an exit that I needed to take. Without fail, she points it out to me, and then remembers the mistake for the next twenty visits. “Hey mom, remember that time you were driving me to school and turned like we were going to the garden?” In my defense, maybe it was wishful thinking.
Having a gigantic stainless steel monument doesn’t hurt the orientation process either. Seeing this landmark from the third floor helps to root us within this city, and remind us of where we are headed each time we venture out to explore it a little more… not to mention, the killer views of the summer fireworks shows.
having a lewis and clark moment
navigating the easy maze
So now I think I’ll look for a good quality compass for a Christmas present. We could have a blast in this place below. If we count on the current compass, we might never get out no matter how loudly we sing “now we’re going east, east towards the river”…
this one’s a bit tougher
top photo taken this morning
arch photo taken oct 2006
maze photos taken sept 2006