SOL16, Day 22: Dumb Question, Rich Response

I’ve spent the last few days in Louisiana. Far from home. But lucky me, I’ve got a dear friend who welcomed my daughter and me to her home on the bayou.

Sunday, we drove from Baton Rouge to Margaret’s house. The bridges went on and on. Over many bodies of water: rivers, lakes, bayous,  and a swamp. I thought I knew what the difference was; I could make some educated assumptions.  But still I wondered.

So I asked. Margaret explained and then she went on to tell the legend of the Teche (a lovely name I botched). The bayou that runs through her backyard. The story paints an image of this waterway that twists through her city. Perhaps Margaret will share it in a slice someday.

The next day, we drove by the cane fields to one of Margaret’s schools. What a treat to be with her students. They shared their weekends, they read, wrote their slices, and loved Margaret. At the end of our time together, Margaret read Pax aloud to the students.

I’m not sure who wondered, but the result was looking up the word dyableman. The character Vola used it frequently; based on the syntax, I was reasonably sure it was a curse word. Tobie and Kadien raced to the computers. It was there, and I was right it was a mild expletive. But the real information came from the word’s origin: Haitian Creole. That changed how I pictured Vola.

After lunch, we drove back to Baton Rouge.

We drove by LSU. Wow. Talk about BIG sporting facilities. But so quiet. No one was there.

We drove to the zoo. We have a thing about zoos. Closed.

We drove to Perkins Rowe and parked. It was lovely. But empty.

I wanted to ask someone where were the people. In deference to my teenage daughter, I restrained myself.

LSU was on Spring Break. Could that be the reason? Did the university kids make the city come to life?

Later in the day, I wandered into the hotel’s lobby to get some tea. I was alone, so I asked, why the city seemed so deserted. Nicki looked at me and smiled. “It’s just Monday. Wait till Thursday. Sunday and Monday were particularly quiet.”

That made sense and gives me more perspective on this city that might be my daughter’s future home.

I’ve asked a lot of how-do-you-get-to questions.

I’ve mispronounced words.

I’ve embarrassed my daughter.

I’ve learned. Not just the information, but context and story.

I’ve also realized what an incredible gift you give when you ask questions: the joy of sharing and teaching.

I went through a long phase of not wanting to ask questions. I guess I thought it made me look stupid. I always thought I should know.

Travel to a place you haven’t been before and notice. Drive by a bayou, turn the pages of a book.

Notice. Wonder. Ask.

Give someone the opportunity to be an expert.

Give yourself the opportunity to be a learner.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers Blog for the March Slice of Life Challenge. I’m off to wonder some more. Read more here.


6 thoughts on “SOL16, Day 22: Dumb Question, Rich Response

  1. This was a delightful post to read. I love to travel because I love to learn. For me the whole point of traveling is to be surrounded by what I don’t know…it’s so stimulating. I haven’t been to that part of the world yet, but now I am intrigued. Keep sharing what you learn….I love it!

  2. How special to be able to visit Margaret! Don’t we always tell kids there are no dumb questions? How strange that everything was so empty. Sounds like an interesting place, I’ve never been to that part of our country.

  3. It was absolutely wonderful to have you here and so fun to show you my space and my kids. I read that part to school #2 today and I was able to talk about how we imagined Vola. What a complicated character. Reading Pax three times is allowing me to notice, wonder, ask.

  4. These lines resonate so much with me:
    Notice. Wonder. Ask.
    Give someone the opportunity to be an expert.
    Give yourself the opportunity to be a learner.
    I lived vicariously through these slices and our Voxer chats – friends together on the bayou. Wonderful.

  5. I read Margaret’s post earlier, and love that you both were able to get together. What an adventure to a new place, & as you said, one that your daughter may call home. Thanks for the idea of “wondering”. I just got the book “Any Questions?” from the library, and I wonder if you will like it. Happy Travels, Julieanne.

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