Thursday, September 12, 2013

Time on my hands

I believe I mentioned once before the relief map of the world I made during my fourth year of graduate studies at the University of Notre Dame. (Here's a photo of the map, as restored in recent years by son Dan.) We were living -– the five of us –- in a tiny two-bedroom apartment. My wife must have been extraordinarily indulgent to surrender the space required for this project. The map was huge.

The map followed us to New England where it hung on the dining room wall while our kids (soon four) were growing up. If they are good at geography today, I credit the map games we'd played each night at dinner.

In fact, so successful was the relief map as a learning tool, that I resolved to make a "chrono-wall" on the same scale, a historical timeline of world civilizations. I bought another sheet of 4x8-foot particle board, painted it, and ruled it off vertically with a logarithmic time scale and horizontally by world region. My plan was not to use text, but images only, and to that end I began snipping pictures. I would make a wall-sized mosaic of history which the kids would absorb by osmosis.

The problem was finding a wall. The dining room already had the map. The only other wall big enough was in the living room, and by this time my wife's compliance had been severely tested; she had other plans for d├ęcor. And so the chrono-wall was never realized. The particle board went to the basement, and I don't know what happened to my growing mass of pics.

It was a good idea. It would have been a thing of beauty. The kids would have had the great sweep of world civilizations engraved visually on their brains. Maybe I should take it up again. Give up the blog and devote my final years to an even bigger and more glorious chrono-wall. Dive into my dotage with scissors and paste.

But where is the wall to receive it? Where are the young minds to be impressed? Where is the wife who will go to bed each night with a man sticky with Elmer's glue?