Delights: April 22 to April 28

April 22: Today I received a compliment from the local preschool where I’ve worked all week. And then I received a request: Could I substitute at the preschool every day for the rest of the school year? Exhausted, I gazed numbly at the principal. (Uh, golly, I’m sure there’s an Honors Physics class I can teach at the high school….) 

Bless you, preschool teachers everywhere, for the work you do.

Someone built this shelter along the creek in our park. I’d love to see my preschool kids explore it.

April 23: You know it’s spring when a neighborhood church leads Zumba classes in its parking lot. 

Walking along the sidewalk, I passed an elderly lady going in the opposite direction. We both turned to watch the class. I kept walking but soon retraced my steps to grab a fluttering bit of trash. And there stood the lady, on a smidge of grass, putting forward one foot, then another, and then swishing her hips. When I looked again, she had returned to the sidewalk, her morning exercise refreshed with a little salsa.

April 24: Recently our neighborhood’s daily joke sign offered this quip: “Dogs have owners; cats have staff.” True, perhaps, but it was a medium-sized dog I saw who was climbing a hill piggyback on its owner’s shoulders.

Phlox and buttercups in a garden near our farmers market.

April 25: During my break from substituting in the elementary school’s Tech class (me? tech? I know … but at least I can sit down sometimes….), I’m frantically trying to find the computer assignment for the next class. Maybe I’ll find it, maybe I won’t. Happily, however, the computer lesson is about Earth Day.

And that I know something about. 

Encouraged by Jeremiah to bring a bit of myself to my substitute gigs, I spent the first two classes engaging the kids on my two favorite subjects: stormwater and poop. Oh, I talked about curbs and gutters and impervious surfaces. I talked about trash polluting our streams and torrents of stormwater scouring our stream beds. 

And then, to their horror, I shifted to poop. I talked about urban “sanitation” (buckets, cesspools and street muck) before our cities wisely whisked their residents’ sewage to rivers and harbors. I talked about treating our wastewater and the perils of combining wastewater and stormwater. (That, too, was a good idea at the time.) I talked about . . . 

Oh, here come the 4th graders. Gotta go. I’m helping protect our waterbodies, one creek (and one child) at a time.

I’m always thinking about Four Mile Run.

April 26: I could talk today about sitting on the preschool floor playing with wooden blocks (and finding in our attic the very blocks my sister and I had played with 55 years ago). Or I could talk about a baby forest of elm, oak, locust and maple that I’ve watched grow these five years. Or I could talk about the fragrance of lilacs and mulch. 

But instead I’ll talk about watching a salmon sunset over the rim of Nationals Park while I sit serenely in drizzle. Maybe it’s the pristine green field. Maybe it’s the contemplative rhythms of pitch and swing. Maybe it’s the arcane magic of recording plays on my scorecard. 

I don’t know. I just love the ballpark, win or lose. 

A bit of Nationals Park art.

April 27: People lowered their masks to help recognize who they were. People shook my hand. People even hugged me. And we all raised our nostrils in salute to on-site COVID testing. 

In a throwback to my old career, I attended an in-person, invitation-only workshop: 48 people from nearly a dozen countries posing sharp questions, sharing inspiration, and eating amazing desserts. I was honored to be part of the sizzle of ideas. 

But mostly I cherished the sparkle of the people themselves — in all three (business-casual) dimensions. We had side-conversations, we wandered around the room to network, we exchanged business cards. Of course, we do the same thing in the teachers lounge (sort of). 

This introvert is surprisingly happy to be around people again.

I love crowds of hosta too.

(In case you’re wondering, I met people from Israel, Canada, Japan, Ireland, the United Kingdom, India, and Turkey — and wished I had talked to the folks from Mexico, Belgium and France too.)

April 28: Jeremiah implored me to read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. I was dubious, but I’m a good Mom, so I scoured our library’s audio collection. I found two versions: the book itself and something called The Scroll. I remembered what Jeremiah had told me, how Kerouac had taped together a ream of typing paper, fashioned the sheets into a scroll, fed the outermost sheet into his typewriter and then, over three weeks, just wrote.

Now I had the chance to read either the final version or the legendary Scroll. I decided (call me crazy) to read both, toggling back and forth between texts at 30-45 minute intervals. 

That means I am (1) splashing in double fountains of stunning prose; (2) giggling over the naughty bits expurgated from the 1957 edition; and (3) awestruck by the brilliance of Kerouac’s first draft and the pea-sized revisions he ultimately made. 

And so I give to you Jack Kerouac and maybe a bit of myself: 

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn . . .”

Sunset near our house, March 2020.

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I bumped into the Washington Nationals’ mascot, an eagle called Screech. Mad to live, indeed.

19 thoughts on “Delights: April 22 to April 28

  1. Your classes must be a scream. Oh what I would have given, several centuries ago when I was growing up, to hear a teacher say the word ‘poop’ (although here we would probably drop the final p and say ‘poo’). Class would have been in uproar for the rest of the day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my goodness, you are exactly right! In fact, the fourth graders were indeed in such an uproar that I dared not mention “poo” to the third graders: when I explained to the fourth graders that we release our magnificently treated wastewater downstream of the same river from which we draw our magnificently treated drinking water, one boy screamed: “we’re drinking poop!” A girl rescued me: “I don’t understand why this is so hard,” she said to him.

      They may have learned something, but so did I!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I find it strangely reassuring that, despite the obvious differences between the cultures of US and UK, the kids are basically the same – morbidly fascinated by poo(p) and delightedly scandalised when teacher uses a “rude” word!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great week! Love the idea of the outdoor Zumba class with your fellow passer by joining in. Thanks as usual for brightening up my Friday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I promise I was tempted to join in too. Next time maybe I will!


  3. As always, I am in awe of your energy and all that you do. A tip of the chapeau to you! That sunset is glorious, and what a burst of colors from the phlox and the buttercups. I’ve never read Kerouac, but I really liked that quotation about “the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn.” Oh, yes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Laurie, for sharing the joy of my week. (I’ve already written my post for today: “I took today off.”) I was hoping you would enjoy the Kerouac quotation. I’d avoided On the Road: who wants to read about wild young men driving back and forth across the country? But I changed my mind after the first chapter. He strings together mostly “ordinary” incidents (and a few utterly strange ones) with beautiful prose. And he reminds me that our writing material is really all around us, if we just pay attention.

      I’ve been thinking of you and your writing. I’m sending you lots of good writerly energy!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, thank you! Slowly, slowly reaching that safe harbor with my writing.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Your students are so lucky to have you, even if it’s only for a few lessons at a time – if nothing else, to realise that teachers are people too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for saying that! And you are so right about teachers being people too. I still recall my astonishment when I saw my second grade teacher in a store, at large, not penned in her classroom!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was just speaking to a teacher-friend yesterday and the challenges she is facing – like I told her, I really really admire the vocation you have adopted … we truly need thoughtful, loving educators like you all.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Ahh! I remember the first impact of On the Road, and then again at each rereading… I often felt it when we were driving to the sea in Slovenia or Croatia, around Crete, to Vienna, to San Francisco on the coastal highway. That’s what life is. And now you got to read the Scroll too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like this! (And you’ve read On the Road multiple times!) Yes, you are very right: the “road” could be anywhere; the book really is a string of mad and moving stories about all the people we meet along the way — and how we let them change and inspire us. Well said.

      Liked by 2 people

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