Saturday, August 21, 2010

...Peter Pan.

Thursday, July 29, 2010
Kirriemuir, Scotland

This week we stayed in Thrums cottage. Owned by the National Trust for Scotland and attached on one end to J.M. Barrie's Birthplace. It is magic. I will do my best to describe it but my sense is that I will never be able to.

J.M. Barrie's Birthplace is a museum that seems to ooze magic from it's very walls. A replics of a modest weavers cottage on the upper floor and what would have been the loom and yarn store on the ground level is now a showcase for his work. In one part of the upper floor they have created a children's fantasy room with a bed upon which nightgowns are laid out and a trunk at the foot of the bed is full of handmade costumes to act out your favourite scenes from Peter Pan. One area has been designed to give you the feeling of flying. A platform with a cushion on top for resting your belly on while you outstretch your arms and legs in flying position. Then a motion sensor sets off a fan that blows the "night wind" through your hair. Murals painted all around and a mirror positioned just so that when the "flyer" faces the wind he will see himself flying through the air and audio of Peter Pan giving flying lessons floats into the room. Fantastic. Magic really.

This room in the museum shares a wall with my bedroom in Thrums Cottage. In the back of the museum is a yard with a wash house. This wash house acted as Barrie's first theatre where, as a boy, he created and acted out scenes of great action for other children in the neighborhood and which ultimately served as the model for the house that the lost boys built for Wendy in Peter Pan. And next to that, across a small lane from our cottage, is a garden. Open to all and for one week it feels like ours. It has a gorgeous border of flowering perenials and a lovely wooden bench to sit a spell. In the middle of the garden is a massive hedge in the shape of a crocodile, hollow down the middle and tall enough for Meg to walk into and play inside. She has played in there for hours this week while we have prepared meals, washed dishes or folded laundry. The crowning glory, however, is the Peter Pan statue atop a carved stump that sits proudly in one corner of the garden. Spellbinding. Magic really.

That garden is what I look out to from all the windows at the rear of the cottage. The best view is from my bed. When I lay down to put Lola to sleep each night I can see the statue and the hedge at the bottom of the garden. Beyond that is another row of houses and beyond that a horse pasture and beyond that a cow pasture and beyond that hills and countryside. And as the sun dims, the twinkling lights of the town of Fofar become visible in the distance. And this week the full moon shone brightly in the clear night sky backlighting the Peter Pan statue and creating the perfect stage for the bats that danced outside the window. Enchanting. Magic really.

The best part of the view is the windows themselves. They are old, big, low (just a foot and a half off the floor), wooden framed, peeling paint, no screen.... The latch is swirl of painted wrought iron. They swing open like a door. You can easily see why ones imagination could create a world where you could just step out of those windows and if you just wiggled your toes and thought happy thoughts you could fly.

This place has cast a spell on me. I feel swept up in the simple magic of this row of weavers cottages on this quiet street in this cheerful town in the heart of rural Scotland. J.M. Barrie wrote most of his books with bits and pieces of this town and it's characters as backdrop and players. His mother featured as a character in most. As Wendy in Peter Pan in fact. The tale of a boy that never grew up...

And this week in this cottage my girls defied the magic of Peter Pan. They grew up...just a little. Lola finally, if reluctantly, allowed some food to pass her lips. It didn't go much beyond her mouth but it's something. And then sometime over night on Monday she finally cut a tooth she has been working on for months. On Tuesday she began to stand unsupported for fairly long periods of time. And on Thursday Meg lost her 8th tooth. The same one Lola cut earlier in the week. The tooth fairy will visit here in Scotland tonight. I wonder what magic she will bring.

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