Like many people my age, a day at home sick would see me laying on the couch with a cup of warm, flat ginger ale, some saltine crackers and the television tuned to either an endless series of gameshows or, if I was lucky, our local PBS station.
This was in a time well before cable, satellite or internet streaming services where entertainment choices — especially for a kid home sick from school — were severely limited.
One of my favorite shows was called “Cover to Cover” and it was hosted for about 30 years by John Robbins a former teacher and illustrator turned children’s television host. The show would feature Robbins drawing a scene as a passage from the book was read. Usually the passage would end on a cliffhanger with the hope that children would want to go to their library and check out the book.
The show as I remember it was your standard, ultra low-budget public television fare. I got to thinking about it the other day when I was bouncing ideas for a literacy project off a friend of mine. He brought up this “really cool” show that he watched when he was kid and described “Cover to Cover.”
Neither of us could remember the name so a quick internet search found not only information about it, but a list of episodes uploaded to Youtube.
While I have always been a voracious, and somewhat indiscriminate reader, there is something special about hearing something read out loud. The best stories are ones that can be shared. A good reader can draw you in and make you want to keep listening.
Storytelling is one of the most basic of human activities. I imagine that some ancient ancestor was enthralled as he sat by a fire hearing of the deeds of great heroes and of trickster animals. Today we have traded the glowing embers of a campfire for glowing boxes and hand-held gizmos. Nowadays it is possible for a roomful of people to all be seeing and hearing a different story.
While this would have been a godsend to the 8-year-old me bored out of my skull while lying sick at home, as I think about it, I worry about what we have lost by not sharing stories.
Like many parents I put in a lot of hours reading to my children, and more listening them read to me. With a little prompting I could probably still recite most of the adventures of Junie B. Jones by heart. I find myself missing that shared storytelling time of the giggles and gasps in reaction to the character’s antics.
I want to extend thanks to readers Gayle Davis of Owen and Mary Williams of Medford who contacted me this week to let me know about the difference between hoar frost and rime frost (or One of the few positive side effects of the foggy and damp conditions that have persisted in the region over the past few weeks has been that trees, weeds, buildings and any other hard surface have been liberally coated in frosting.
The breathtaking beauty of the frosted landscape doesn’t quite make up for not having enough snow to open local trails, but it is a start. As long as I don’t have to shovel it and the wheels of my car are able to continue to get a grip on the road, I am happy to let Mother Nature entertain herself.
In last week’s paper I referred to the frosted coating as being “hoar frost” because that is what I have always known it to be. I have been corrected that while there was some hoar frost present, the frosting on the trees was actually “rime frost.”
The difference is in how the frost is formed and the shape of the crystals. Rime ice goes from supercooled liquid to solid state, while hoar frost goes from gas state straight to a solid state in a process called deposition.
If you ask me, both names sound like good ones for drinks that would contain a heavy proportion of peppermint schnapps.
Brian Wilson is News Editor at The Star News.