(Nice picture….not of me.)
It is the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL! This is bitter sweet. I have had a few very full, emotional, thoughtful days. I have a tough time transitioning to something OTHER THAN SCHOOL. I powerfully feel a loss as my students move on to middle school and I move out of my classroom for three months. In a diversion with my Angel, Delanie, I discovered at UMOFA, University of Utah’s Museum of Fina Arts the following quote by Alfred Lambourne, a Utah Artist who focused his poetry, sketches, and paintings primarily on the Great Salt Lake and the Islands. He found a kind of ownership to this his inland sea, much like I feel for our little school, and the little valley in which I live.
I think figuratively, perhaps, I am a teacher at sea, with or without that other adventure. Sometimes I feel more an apprentice pirate lost at sea, limited in knowledge, wisdom, and the ability to sail unknown, murky waters. Even so, I am having adventures of my own creation: inland adventures to fresh water seas, in places not unlike my school of fish, or my Mermaid Cove, which I run to increasingly. And so the following quote resonates with me:
“Under certain conditions, a place becomes a part of us: we own it. We absorb it into our lives, and without title or deed. We are associated with a certain spot of earth, we have our lives shaped by it, or if that be not the case, we stamp the place with our individuality. THIS PLACE IS MINE.”
I ponder what it is to leave this school place for three months. Or what it is like for a retiring teacher to never return. I review what it is to be brave. I want to have and to grow a life, regardless of setting, that is more of purpose and joy, of giving to others, and less of selfishness, and negativity. So, for the first week of summer, I have plunged whole heartedly into Nature, communion, and exercise…and in these I have found what feels like partial answers, sore muscles I did not know I had, and a really bad SUNBURN!…but first came a cold rainy road bike climb home.
Every day, in every way, I watch everything around me. I observe…as I move. My eyes, my ears, my muscles, all of my senses are on high alert. I have been this way most of my life. Difficult to settle down….to be still…full of enthusiasm, and sometimes ballogna. This is me, whether I am in doors, or outside. Whether I am walking, running, cycling, swimming, or driving…my mind races an eliptical machine. It binges on dry witt. It takes notes, rarely resting. Then I wish I could remember more of the really important things and focus MORE! I know too, now, that I DO have a quieter side.
Sometimes my brain tucks these learned things away into its folds or corners. Sometimes thoughts spin on the surface toward something else. At times the process, or the focus gets stuck like a broken record, or a record player needle that can not seem to move past the scratch on the vinyl 45. Among all of this, I often think I am surrounded by signs, portents, and confirmations. I see metaphores. These things promise direction, newness, hope and life worth living. Some of these are real, and some of these are little more than hoped for.
Someone once told me this with regard to being a writer, however, I think it can be applied to a number of thinks:
“Don’t give up on something that you think about everyday!”
“You say it long enough, it starts to be a part of you.”
Hope yields faith. Faith begets a recognition and when in tune with holy, a willing compliance to God’s Plan, and action. Christ’s Grace brings hope, peace, and added faith and joy. I am convinced that God is aware of our being, and loves us. This is evident in all He daily gives to us, if we would only acknowledge these offerings and praise his name gratefully, receiving these perpetual gifts, and willingly sharing these blessings.
Even in a super cold, wet spring shower, with no bike gloves, I ride my bike home from a last day of school…I feel blessed. Yes, I am cold, but so what, I look past this fact. It could be so much worse. I look for a silver lining… not unlike a childhood memory or the picture I drew instead of watching the end-of-school movie.
On this, the last day of school, while twenty-two excited students viewed, and most of us sang the soundtrack from Disney’s Frozen from beginning to end, with lots of interjections, I chose to create a drawing at the back table. I sang too. Our voices rang out, brimming with smiles and laughter, filling buckets full to overflowing down a quiet hall. Yes. This time it was not a running, overflowing urinal.
Also, to my wonder and hillarious delight, one cheeky little boy had brought a ring box, with a plastic diamond band, with which he took a knee, and as I paused the dvd, he proposed to Elsa, the snow queen. Everything in the room indicated the best of feelings, and Summer. Vacation had arrived and was being celebrated. Let it go was replayed and sung twice. I have a wall sign that says: “I believe in redos.” This will be a happy memory many children will redo…like OPERA, and like one of my own happy childhood memories.
This memory is of my paternal Grandmother, Kathleen Gomm Hill, and a subject, in the object of a small thin, tin cup that she used to give me drinks of water in, but was otherwise used as a measuring cup for flour. Grandma used to make homemade bread, daily. The tin cup was on a high hutch cupboard shelf. Grandma made her home light and happy with singing, in spite of the exterior being a dark brick house on Logan Street, in South Salt Lake.
Outside, there was a delightful walnut tree in the alley. I cracked and ate so many of these. I was just a tiny thing, and frequently thirsty. The water always felt cooler, and tasted more delicious and satisfying from this special earmarked tin vessel that seemed to have my name on it. She made me feel special in this small way. I can almost hear her voice…even now, singing to me.
I notice that there is water all around me as I pedal home. My bike is aluminum, like the tin cup. Yes! There WILL be water to drink this summer, I think. It has cooled. It is raining. The life giving rain soaks into thirsty green shag pastures, resurrects a blanket of new clover, alfalfa, and sturdy stalks of quack grass, amid a sun burst of yellow dandelions, like those that await me at home, in my window well flower garden. This is the image I imagine in my helmeted head…among a yard art figurine angel with no hands. I glued gems on her amputated arm stubs. We can not have… or be angels without hands…for much good to be done. This garden angel reminds me of this.
My ears receive the song of cooing morning doves. These glorified pigeons are everywhere I travel, along the winding quiet country road I cycle, in spruce trees on the Dam Loop where I deer trail through the sagebrush. I startle them with my footfall and there is a flourish of feathers past the tailgate of a familiar parked truck. The bumper sticker reads:
“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” This is haunting, but I am getting used to it.
Sometimes their song is one of “mourning doves,” but mostly they seem to sing happily, unbothered by the elements, much like nursing calves that dot the pastures. The songs of doves sinks into my brain like a fond memory of a soothing summer visit. It pools and sits on top, then settles. I hold it in my skull, just as soil caresses the falling rain, or the extra pastel, tri-color cemetary mums I planted on the porch step planter. They seem to hold onto each other in their balls of knitted roots.
This same rain soaks into a purple, 100 Year Celebration Hoodie. I am glad I bought this hoodie! Ha ha. I am getting wet through layers, yes, but I am warm enough…..well enough…..strong enough to make it the short, seven miles home.
Never alone…..even in sometimes choosing to be, or in distancing myself, or in feeling not included. Sometimes I am noticed though. Today…..a school board member saw me tired and wet on a slow moving frame. She passed, then circled back. She thought me needy, and wanting her assistance.
Maybe I am. No. I’m not. She offers a rescuing ride and a smile. I graciously decline the lift and carry on a little bit warmer on the cold ride half over.
Water trickles down exposed perpetually pumping legs. Muscles pulse in the heat of the work, in joules of the climb, in the burning BMI to better, and calories to ba-ye. I am remembering the PEHP Healthy Utah Check up I worked hard for with or without insurance of good returns. 🙂
It is a miracle what the body does, what the mind can survive, and yet asks for very little in return. Miracle workers…. like teachers, I think. I think of Annie Sullivan, and the IEP child who assumed the character of Helen Keller for Wax Museum. We were so spellbound by this student’s performance, that I shut off the timer after two minutes and with all the other students begging, we allowed her to fill 15 or 20 minutes of personal glory. This was an adaptation I was proud of.
I think of a remarkable young teacher who was interviewed by Diane Sawyer, a heroic first grade teacher who saved 15 six-year-olds by gently hiding them quietly in a small bathroom and fortifying the door. This was the tragic scene at Sandy Hooke. Amazing! This survival story and the retelling of it. I think on how brave she was, and how brave she is to tell the story again and again. Difficult.
I think of my physical wellness work. I appraise the “Lazy Iron Woman” I participated in, which was not brave, but more a matter of perseverance which I loved. This work was well worth the $25 dollar fee to be tested, which the school district picked up. The report felt like a passing Sage report. Ha! I can pretend.
Then I see the reality of ALL of the unfinished work, and Lincoln nodding his head, or tut tuting in disapproval. Depends on the given day. 🙂 I still choose to persevere, much like completing a hilly U. of U. Healthy STEM 5K with Sarah Young and David Smith of the UOE and for student charities. Giving collectively feels good. It sounds like the subject of a video spot for Foundation For a Better Life. Ha ha.
Sometimes I start to cry…….for no real apparent reason. I am not crying on this ride, nor on the 5K run. No. Or maybe, yes. It is not the rain running down my face. Maybe sweat? There is a reason for crying….whether it is a biological need to clear hormone imballance, or the inability to fully forget certain things, or just another evidence of needs and wants. The rain is a metaphore at times for my internal weather. Glad I turn quickly back to sunny on most days. I am typically a labradore retrieving a positive yellow tennis ball.
Today was tough. I am grateful for a lonnnnnng decompressing bike ride home. I am grateful for the full physical release, and of rain and the possibility for emotional clearing toward more blue skies.
In the rural juniper foothills of the Eastern Wasatch back, in the small agricultural valleys, and in the ski resort towns of Summit County, like Park City, April showers sometimes come a month late. April in Salt Lake City, actually…..really comes in May where we live. With the altitude and cool spring temperatures, May flowers, tomatoes, vegetable gardens, all of these, are more safely planted in June once the hard frosts are well behind. I think…so many things require a still, calm, hopeful patience toward moving on. Biking, weather, grief, and loss are no exeptions. You sometimes have to take it slow, one day at a time for the shifting to engage. Eventually snow melts, fills the rivers, and the water cycle begins, or continues toward the full sun of summer.