photo credit: http://flic.kr/p/aDX3VL
One of the things I love about summer is that I get to make it an extended, hands-on learning experience. My daughter Zoie’s summer doesn’t begin for another month, but we’ve already started taking field trips together, and I have a few planned to do on my own between now and mid-June.
This summer, my learning focus will be on areas that will help me develop my character Adelle. Adelle is an architect with a quirky memory: she can recite trivia perfectly but can’t always recall her own experiences. My trip to Chicago for the AWP conference in February gave me the opportunity to take some architecture tours and begin developing first-hand experience with the work Adelle does. You can see the photos here: http://wp.me/p2aDAm-27. This inspired me to spend the summer seeking out architectural and educational experiences to inform her character further.
On Sunday, Zoie and I spent Mother’s Day in St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States. It’s one of my favorite day trips, and I’ve been many times, but I got to see it with new eyes this weekend because it was the first time I’d taken my daughter. Not only did we get to experience the Colonial Spanish architecture, but we also visited the Lightner Museum for the first time. The Lightner Museum, http://www.lightnermuseum.org/, is full of early twentieth century ephemera. They arranged a portion of the exhibit as a 1920′s shopping district, grouping hats, shaving supplies, housewares, and toys behind storefronts to give visitors a sense of what it would have been like to stroll the downtown streets a hundred years ago. We saw a nickelodeon, a gramaphone, a player piano. We visited the natural history side of the museum to discover glass steam engines, a mumified child, and the method Native Americans used to shrink shrunken heads. It’s fun to see a city like this through my character’s eyes. I now have so much more architectural knowledge and trivia to draw from when I sit down to write Adelle.
While in Chicago, I toured Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House. I had studied and even taught Wright’s work before, but never saw any of his buildings in person. So one of my field trips this summer will be to Florida Southern University https://www.flsouthern.edu/fllwctr/. It’s a little over an hour away from where I live, and its campus consists of the largest single-site collection of buildings designed by Wright.
I will also try to make it to the Thomas Edison House http://www.edisonfordwinterestates.org/ in search of more trivia for Adelle. I plan to visit as many museums and botanical gardens as I can, including the Morse Museum of Tiffany glass which is about fifteen minutes from my home: http://www.morsemuseum.org/.
And, of course, I plan to tour the world to view different styles of architecture. Only, there is a financial hangup there because right now I just can’t afford to go to Paris, Tokyo, Morrocco… So I’m going to do the theme park version. For Christmas last year, we got the family annual passes to Disney. I plan to make full use of Epcot’s World Showcase and the fantastic reproductions of African architecture at Animal Kingdom. It’s far and away from visiting the real countries. In many ways, this is the cartoon version of the world. But it’s in my backyard and a life-size model is so much better than a three-inch photo in a history book.
So what are you doing to enhance your work this summer?