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Saturday November 26th 2022

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That's what she said

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“Kit, some people say we live in Colorado and some people say we live in Boulder. Which is right?” Juan looks troubled about this.

“Have you seen a map of North America before?” Juan seems uncertain as I open the atlas. “This is a picture of the continent we live on.”

“Did astronauts take the picture?”

“No, it isn’t that kind of picture. It’s a drawing.”

Where to begin?

“Here, you can see Mexico. And here is the United States. You can see that both those countries are divided up into pieces. You were born in the part of Mexico called Chihuahua. Here it is. And now you live in the part of the United States called Colorado.”

“So, we do live in Colorado. The other people were wrong.”

“Well, everyone was right. Do you see how we live both in the United States and in Colorado, a part of the United States? Well, inside Colorado there are a lot of cities. We live in the one called Boulder. This map doesn’t show the cities. Just a minute.”

I leaf through until I find a full-page map of Colorado and point out where Boulder is.

“So, Colorado is bigger than the United States.”

Right, it looks that way. The map of Colorado in this atlas is bigger than the depiction of the United States on the North American map. We talk about scale. We find Colorado on the continental map again.

Suddenly—“Can I make a map?”

After talking a bit about whether he would like to make a map of a real place—like this room or Orchard Grove or Colorado—or a place he invents, Juan decides to make up a country.

Within a couple minutes he has retrieved supplies from the drawing cupboard and has sketched the outline of his country. Rivers, mountains, and cities appear. When he is done, he brings his map to the table where I am working.

“It’s called Darlana. That’s the country. And here are the mountains, Montecruz.”

“How did you think up the names?”

He points to a poster on the wall. It depicts a Swedish fiddler and the name Dalarna.

“I moved the ‘r’ so it would sound pretty,” he explains. Can you imagine a little boy saying such a thing, or even conceiving of such an idea as a pretty word and then rearranging letters to make one?

“And the mountains came from the box of markers.” Sure enough, although I had never noticed the name before, there it is on the cigar box where I keep markers for the kids’ use.

“And what is this?” I ask, pointing at the word “Dadipblusi” which appears to be floating offshore to the west of Darlana.

“Don’t you know what that is? It’s English.” He looks for a sign of recognition in my face and, not finding it, explains the obvious. “That’s de deep blue sea.”

Spelled perfectly in Spanish.

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