Letter No. 8

It’s Sunday morning and it’s quiet for now. I enjoy the weekend mornings because I can sleep a little later than I normally do during the week and there isn’t the urgency to get up, move, and be someplace. Though sometimes that isn’t always the case.

I let the group walk ahead…..

Last weekend I took a bird walk and had to be out of the house by 7:30 AM Saturday morning. It was an organized bird walk with a trained naturalist at the Morton Arboretum. I signed up in August when I was excited about learning about birds. I still am excited about learning more about birds but the time to learn and watch birds is fleeting with school back in session. The bird walk, added a bit of urgency to last Saturday morning’s get up and go, but it was worth the time. I enjoyed the walk with a group of folks walking the paths and trails and seeing things I don’t normally see. It helped me model the science homework I assign my students daily – be curious and full of wonder. I shared last weekend’s adventures with them last Monday when they asked how my weekend was – a few were interested and pressed for more questions and others were the typical 8th grader. I shared that my newfound curiosity was inspired by a book I had started to read – Where the Poppies Grow by British author John Lewis-Stempel. I discovered the book while reading post on Margaret’s blog, From Pyrenees to Pennines in April. I make the headway with my students anyway I can and I am still reading the book.

This weekend is a little different. O and her marching band have a band competition, but she didn’t need to be at school early Saturday morning as she has in the past couple of weekends. This week’s competition was across town and her band won top honors in its class. So far, this marching season, they’ve had three competitions and I’ve seen them all. Next week they are on the road and we will be, too.

The weather turned for the weekend and there is a fall-ish chill in the air. The skies are clear and it is cool. Yesterday at the band competition the stands faced the afternoon sun and it was in our eyes, but when the sun dipped beneath the horizon it cooled down and there was a definite nip in the air. My body is not quite use to the cooler air, but by November and December my body will be ready for the cold which lies ahead. 

It’s that time of the year when keeping up the blog is a challenge. School is taking time and other activities – parenting, being husband, and taking care of the home and myself take precedence over writing a blog post. This past summer, I didn’t write as frequently as I had in previous summers. But, I had many things going on with a new knee and my son leaving for marine boot camp. In place of blogging, I’ve been writing him letters. So far, I am up to No. 8. I penned it yesterday morning and I’ll pen another this afternoon or evening.

Friday Night’s Lights – the sky was orange (our colors) before the game, but turned red (their colors) to finish the sunset – the Tigers came up short 41-20 but it was never close.

When I write him, I type. It’s easier for me and I can embed a photo from the week into my letters. I also realize it’s easier for him to read. Letter No. 8 included Friday Night’s Lights. W played high school football for the Tigers and we went to Friday night’s football game and happened to sit behind one his former coaches. H remembered W for his hard work. His former coach shared that he too played for the Tigers in his youth and is now raising his family in the town he grew up in. Maybe one day his kids will don the Tiger uniform, too.

So far, we have received three letters from him. In his last note he remarked about the airplanes he sees daily. The Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego is adjacent to San Diego International Airport. There is irony in that. W is an observant young man and he has always has been able to see what other don’t; it’s a trait that sets him apart from his peers. I shared my love of watching airplanes land and takeoff and it seems to have stuck with him. The day he left, we spent time watching aircraft takeoff and land at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport – Day 72 – the last one. I only hope (and pray) that his observations aren’t taking him away from his duties as a recruit. His letters share that there isn’t a lot of time to write. I know our letters to him are more important than his letters are to us. I will keep writing because I know how much news from home is welcome. 

W’s a little more than halfway finished but he’s got a lot of hard work ahead including the ‘final exam’ a 54-hour test of what he and his fellow recruits have learned about being a marine and working together. I know he’ll do well and I am looking forward to watching him graduate in early November.

Thursday morning’s sunrise made me think of W and it was included in No. 7

As with all of the weekends during the school year there is always a lot to pack into two days or unpack in two days. Family time, housework, and schoolwork are more pressing than time to write and create. Making time for what is important is better than what is urgent.

Thursday’s sunset on my way home from school. I stopped driving to capture the power of the image – solar and electric

It’s going to be a fabulous Sunday. I’ll unpack a few things and then pack up the school backpack getting ready for the week ahead, then I’ll pen letter No. 9 and get it ready for the mail Monday morning. It’s going to be a great day, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one letter at a time, one blog post, too.

What did you unpack this weekend?

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6 thoughts on “Letter No. 8

  1. Wow! I went “birding” a long time ago while camping and remember learning the bird calls. My dad was able to imitate them and would call them in. Sounds like a wonderful experience.
    You have a son in the service? Another wow! I bet you are super proud. And your daughter is winning too. When the kids are happy, we are happy!

  2. I’m also one of the last writers of letters inhabiting this earth….. I make it my ‘duty’ to send some cards, greetings, short letters out every single week. Some weeks it may be up to 7, others just one. With every dispatch, not only fly away the words but thoughts, ‘travelling hugs’, warm feelings, questions and thankfulness.
    And now it’s September, end of already and autumn will be on us in a hurry….

  3. Letters. They are so important, and kids today that don’t receive them or write them are missing something special. My mom and I were letter writers when she was alive. We trended toward email when that happened…and all my letters were typed because I could write faster, and it was legible….but still, typewritten or handwritten letters are special. I have a box full of those I received from my mom. And after she died I found a whole pile of my letters to her tied up with binder twine in her desk drawer. Made me cry.

  4. I’m so glad you are enjoying ‘Where poppies blow’. And that you still write letters. It’s so exciting to receive a personal letter these days, yet they were part of my regular schedule when I was younger. Have a good term! It’s only just begun in the UK, but you are already well stuck in.

  5. I think it’s sweet that you write letters to your son and that HE actually writes back. That’s so refreshing in this day and digital age. Keep it up. Some day he’ll treasure – if not the letters themselves – the memories.

    Make the most of the rest of this Sunday.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    1. Thank you. I began planning my letters a few weeks before he left. I gave him a copy of the book Make Your Bed: Little Things You Can Do To Change Your Life….and Maybe the World before he left with a handwritten letter inside. I am not sure if he read it, but I told him it was an easy read. I planned my letters after the chapters – each had a important life lesson to teach.

      When he announced he was joining the Marine Corps in April we began having Sunday morning breakfasts together – we made our date most Sundays. I think it was important to both of us.

      My wife has really been the REAL letter writer, even written a letter (or two) to a kid who hasn’t gotten mail, even got a reply. She has a friend who experienced the same thing the summer of 2017 – their son leaving for the USMC right out of high school (one week after graduation) and they shared how important it was to write. I keep my letters to a single page and newsy.

      When I was his age my dad lived overseas and I have most of his letters from when I was in high school to when he passed away. I’ve saved all my letters from my mom, too. More on that later. The weeknd is moving along and my Astros are close to clinching the division and chance to repeat. October baseball is the best, especially when your team is in it. Thanks for stopping by – this could qualify a a blog post!

Thanks for visiting MtDC. How are YOU Making YOUR Days Count?