Delights: March 25 to March 31

March 25:  As a teacher’s aide today, I accompanied the fifth graders to Physical Education class. The kids lined up facing each other in two large rectangles; but with an odd number, one child had no partner. I’m sure they’re about to toss a ball, right? So I stepped in to fill the gap. 

Then the class began: while the kids in the outer rectangle jogged around the gym, the interior kids did squats. Then they switched positions and exercises. And switched again: jogging and planks. And switched again: jogging and push-ups. 

Are you kidding me? So there, in my turtleneck sweater, necklace and earrings I jogged, squatted, held my planks, and did push-ups. When the PE teacher blew her whistle, the kids scampered to the next activity: volleyball. I staggered to a chair, huffing and puffing, to cheer them on. 

Another view of the Saguaro National Park, near Tucson, Arizona from my trip last week.

March 26: [Kevin, stopping reading, please.] When I’m out for a walk, I travel light: a phone in one jeans pocket, a credit card in another, a water bottle swinging from my finger, and earbuds in the usual places. This was true last Sunday in Tucson, when I walked from Anne and Nina’s house to a nearby college baseball game. And it was true today back home, when I walked to our farmers’ market. 

[Kevin knows that already. Here’s the part I wince to tell him:] Both times after I whipped something else out of my jeans pocket (ear buds; cash), I dropped my credit card — last week in front of the ballpark, today in front of a baker’s stand. Unencumbered by awareness, I cheerfully walked home.  Soon, though, encumbered now by my folly, I flew back to the sites of my carelessness, full of self-recrimination — and hope. 

Sure enough, the good people at the University of Arizona baseball game and our Little City’s farmers’ market had found and safeguarded my credit card.

I believe in the goodness of people. And I also believe in the effectiveness of slim zipped wallets. I’ve resolved to forgo future credit card folly and to find other ways for people’s goodness to shine.

I’m still enthralled by the beauty of San Xavier del Bac Mission near Tucson, Arizona.

March 27: A week ago, I basked like a desert tortoise in the southwestern sun. Today, I hunched in my coat, hood and scarf against a fierce March wind. Everything was gray except for the stalwart daffodils. I looked up. Snow flakes? Not possible; it must be a neighborhood cherry tree erupting in blossoms. 

I walked past the wafting petals. More white stuff swirled around me: definitely snow. (And Kevin got pelted by hail on his bike ride.) Perhaps the wintery mix was just saying goodbye until next year.

A cactus wren once made its home in the prickly embrace of this cactus.

March 28: Even though today is one of my self-established substitute teaching days, I didn’t sign up for a class. And I turned down a chance at 10:40 am to be a last-minute sub. 

The world needs help in every quarter, and apart from my prayers and my giving and the occasional act of service or witness, I feel like a speck of sand on the beach: powerless. Here at home, however — by agreeing to substitute for one teacher on one day — I can make a difference.

I felt bad about my choice today. So I texted the assistant principal to see if the school still needed an emergency substitute. He said no; I was relieved. I then signed up for six shifts over the next two weeks.  

I believed this morning that I couldn’t do a thing for the people in Ukraine except send prayers, money and support. Then I realized that every kindness I do back home, every piece of trash I prevent from reaching the creek, every hour I help an overworked (and under-appreciated) teacher — each of those acts sends love into the universe. And you — with all the small acts of kindness, creativity, connection, and service you perform — are doing the same thing. Like each flutter of the proverbial butterfly wing, I believe we make a difference in ways we may never know.  I hope you believe this too.

I loved this Arizona hummingbird sipping nectar while I sipped coffee. Did you know that some of a hummingbird’s feathers are “prismatic” (rather than pigmented), so that sunlight hitting these cells splits into wavelengths that determine different colors? Thank you, Anne and Nina, for this information!

March 29: My students are leaving our classroom to attend their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math class. I take inventory: Twenty-two fifth graders? Check. Laptops and headphones? Check. Scissors? Um.

The students had already explained to me — and demonstrated — how they transition from class to class: by walking quietly in a straight, single line. Now they showed me how they carry scissors. Except for one child who flipped his scissors open and shut like a frantically feeding shark, everyone secured the blades and points admirably. What a relief. So off we went . . . into the classroom directly across the hall.

More memories of Arizona: ample shade in which to nibble a disc of southwestern fry bread.

March 30: The night eased into tranquility, taking me with it. I walked home from the Metro at 10 pm, past the quiet playground, the silent houses and the empty roads. Nighttime clouds hid the stars and the leafless trees moved without sound. Maybe I was cocooned in the effects of a flavorful cocktail (the “Groundskeeper Willie”). Maybe I still savored my time with Nate, who met me in town for dinner and conversation. Maybe I pondered the brilliant, beguiling film “Drive My Car,” enriched by Jeremiah’s company and insights. Maybe I remembered the Turkish kofte and dolma at lunch with my friend Aileen. Maybe I admired the fearless efficiency of my sixth graders this morning as they folded like turtles for a tornado drill. Or maybe I was just tired. And happy.

I marveled over this resourceful saguaro, which found soil in the crack of a cliffside rock. And we were resourceful too. After our hike last week through the Saguaro National Park, Anne, Nina and I rewarded ourselves with a frosty Mexican treat — Raspados made with fruit and ice cream — at Raspados Il Paraiso. Paradise indeed.

March 31: I use an alias as a substitute teacher. Because I’m teaching at the same schools that nurtured Nate and Jeremiah from kindergarten to 12th grade, I write their last name — not mine — on the whiteboard. It has resonance in our intimate school system, a currency I spend freely. 

As it happens, this month is the tenth anniversary of the state basketball tournament when Nate, the team’s co-captain, dove for a rebound in the quarterfinal game and broke his wrist. It’s a good story filled with grit, disappointment, resilience (and a modest Washington Post headline). Nate had to learn how to bless and encourage the player replacing him and how to lead from the sidelines during the semi-final victory and the championship loss. 

During last year’s re-do of the high school awards cabinet, that old second place trophy somehow found its way to our living room mantle. I know we should offer to return it. But it would probably to be placed in a closet, superseded by many other achievements. And it makes me think of Nate at the winter sports banquet the night he told his teammates about his injury. I see Nate draping his arm across the shoulders of the junior who’d now start in his place. You’ve got this, he said to the stunned player. You’ve got this, he said to the woeful team. 

And the trophy says to me: We’ve got this. 

Nate, number 33, helps hoist the Mustangs’ 2012 Bull Run Conference Championship trophy. I wonder where this trophy is…

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23 thoughts on “Delights: March 25 to March 31

  1. So many things this week…I can just see you joining in the squats 🙂 Seriously, what a wonderful post that as usual lifts the sprits, especially on a rainy day like today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I smile when you mention the squats (because it was pretty amusing at the time too)! I’m so happy my wee stories bring a bit of brightness to a rainy day, as yours do to mine.

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  2. Loved, loved, loved your story about doing planks and pushups in your turtleneck and earrings! Are you kidding me?? And also loved your reflections on the importance of universal acts of kindness. Yes. I think your love of substitute teaching counts.
    Much love to you,
    Carolyn

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Carolyn, thank you. You’re right: I don’t typically exercise in accessories! And thank you for affirming my reflections on universal acts of kindness. (I like your phrase.) You, also, are contributing so much good will to the world with all the loving kindness you share.

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  3. This made me laugh out loud: “I’ve resolved to forgo future credit card folly and to find other ways for people’s goodness to shine.” Wise decision. 😉 Love, love, love the top picture. Most of us are not going to make a difference on a world or national scale. As you noted, all we can do is work, each in our own way, to make our communities better places. And that you are doing with gusto and creativity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you liked that story! Naturally, I did confess the whole thing to my husband before I posted it, but I didn’t want to… It’s been said that I rely over-much on grace. And grace keeps coming through — because so many of us, as you said and as you do, find our way to make our communities better.

      Putting books into the universe is certainly an important way. To that end, I send you lots of positive energy for your redoubled acts of giving.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. As usual Carol Ann, a meditative and joyful trip into nature and your encounters with others. I’m blessed to have you as a friend and life companion. Julie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love your words “meditative and joyful,” Julie. That means a lot. And it echoes my experience with your beautiful photographs. Thank you so much for sharing your voice (here) and gifts (everywhere).

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  5. What a lovely description of your week. I can tell that you are happy, it shows. I like March 30 especially, the mix of what nourished you. Just the way to be. And what a memory of the injury but triumph too. This is what I fear for Luka, that somebody hurts him on purpose. Let’s just decide that it doesn’t happen. (Since the Mavs are currently 3rd in the West and have play-offs secured!) Hugs from Tuscany!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Manja, for your appreciations. I just reread March 30, and you’re right: the mix does nourish me, and I am happy. Perhaps it is about paying attention — something you do quite well too — to the joy in small as well as large things. My time with others that day was a big thing; the beautiful night was a small thing. And I think the small thing allowed me to knit it all together. Your words gave me much to think about.

      And yes, sports requires us to hold intense, opposing ideas together all the time: joy and agony, delight and anxiety. Maybe that’s part of its appeal. Congrats on the Mavs taking momentum into the post-season! And I’ll send lots of good wishes to and for our boy Luka.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Part of the appeal for sure. And I’m glad I provided some thinking matter. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Such a week you’ve had! It must be such a contrast from the desert back to the cold. And all that excitement with the children …

    I love your Mar 30 entry … a busy but tiredly happy reflection to the day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing my week, Ju-Lyn. Yes, it was a week of contrasts and I think you’re right: the March 30 entry does capture it well. I truly appreciate your notes; they are part of my week’s delights.

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  7. I share your pain with regard to Ukraine, but you are right: individually we can’t stop the bad things happening (that’s down to you, Mr Putin!) but we can each, in our own small way, help to make the world a slightly better place by performing random acts of kindness and generosity. We can also entertain those around us by attempting unexpected push-ups! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Mr. P. I just saw this comment, and your words — which I read before my own words from 5 weeks ago — filled me with hope and assurance. Thank you. (And I agree: unexpected whimsey — push-ups? — helps too!)

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