Autumn officially arrives on Thursday at 8:03 CDT. The sun will rise at 6:40 AM and set twelve hours and nine minutes later at 6:49 PM. We experienced our last 7 PM sunset this past Thursday and its bittersweet.
I am enjoying the morning outside at my summer office. The day began cloudy, but the clouds have been replaced by a clear blue sky with a light breeze that gently tickles the wind chime the tree branches above me.
The forecast for the week begins with high temperatures in the low 80s and finishes the month with temperatures in the low 70s. It will warm enough by day, but cooler overnight lows dipping ten degrees to the mid 50s by the end of the month.
Fall Hiking Last fall, I accepted the forest preserve’s challenge to Take a Hike in collaboration with Edwards-Elmhurst Health. Each week I get a reminder email on Thursday get out and move. I enjoyed last year’s challenge, but I have gotten out and hiked this season. Continue reading Summer’s exit and Fall’s arrival→
Twenty-one years ago, this morning, I was welcoming my seventh graders into my geography classroom. It was early in the year in the year, and we were building routines and learning. I was learning their names and faces and the lesson for the day was the water cycle.
I don’t remember the first two classes, but I do remember when a counselor came into the classroom towards the end of the second class, about 9:20 AM or so. She waited until the class ended, the third period class had entered, and settled and until after the bell had rung and then she made the announcement that earlier in the morning America had been attacked. Her message was scripted and every classroom in our school go the same message at the same time.
I don’t remember the exact text of the message, but I can close my eyes and go back to room B111 on September 11, 2001 and picture the layout of the room on that morning.
On nine-eleven two thousand one, I was 39 and my students were 12.
This past spring, I began volunteering regularly at Loaves and Fishes on Thursday after school. I had been volunteering on Saturdays since early 2020, but I decided to add a new day. Soon, I had been asked to be the lead volunteer for my part of the operation on Thursday afternoon. Loaves and Fishes is a wonderful place, and I am thankful to be part of an organization that helps people in need, especially when the cost of groceries and gasoline have increased significantly. I have also discovered a community of people who care about others, and I have met several parents of former students who volunteer for the organization. It’s a small world.
It was the last day of school and summer had begun when I walked into the market at Loaves and Fishes for my Thursday afternoon shift.
I saw Michelle and we greeted each other, and she shared a story with me. It went something like this:
Michelle – you teach at Scullen, right? Me – yes, I do. Michelle – Do remember Judy? She was the nurse. Me – Yes, I remember Judy and I remember having her son Joey in class. It’s been a log time. Michelle – I was at a going away party last weekend for Judy. She’s retired and moving to Wisconsin, and I mentioned I had me you at Loaves and Fishes. She remembered you and we were talking, and Allison overheard us and joined our conversation, do remember her? Me – yes, I do. I do remember that name – it was our first year at the school and we were all new. Michelle – well, she remembers you. Me – WOW. Really? I remember her, too. I hadn’t thought about that name since she was in my class. That’s a long time ago. Michelle – yes, it was and she does. She told the two of us that every year on 9/11, she remembers being in your class and being scared and that you were calm and reassured her and the class that everything would be okay. Me – WOW (and at this point I am beginning to tear up) Michelle – Ally’s married and has two kids and lives in the area. Me – We all grow up, thank you for telling me this.
That’s how I remember our conversation and it’s stuck with me since.
This summer I started my baseball trip in New York City. The first game was Sunday at Yankee Stadium and after the game I drove to Washington, D. C. for another game. I returned Tuesday for third game and the possibility of visiting the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Unfortunately, the museum was closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the time I was in New York City. But I figured I could at least visit the Memorial before I left for my Philadelphia and game four.
Tuesday night I set alarm for early Wednesday morning, before sunrise. My plan was to walk to the memorial which was less than a mile away from my hotel. It was early morning twilight, and I was surrounded by tall buildings blocking much of the light. New York City was beginning to waken, even though I suspect the city never sleeps, it’s always moving. Cars, buses, and trucks were beginning start the day and few people were walking with me. Some going to work and other heading home.
It Sunday and the second day of a three-day weekend. It’s Labor Day weekend where we spend the weekend working to put away summer and prepare for fall.
Three years ago, we weren’t here, but our neighbors along the shoreline pitched in and put away our stuff. It’s a community here, a microcosm of what the world can be if all of us could simply get along. I am full of gratitude for that act of kindness and concern and always will be.
There is power in community.
Yesterday we toiled to pull boats, move lifts, unbolt dock sections, and worked together as a family and a community.
Then when the sun began to set and all of us stopped to watch the sun slowly dip beneath the horizon and declare completion to the day.
Last night, I waded into the lake to capture last night’s sunset and it did not disappoint, it never does. The sunset always amazes me as it has countless people going back in time.
It’s Sunday, there is more work to be done. The kids are still sleeping, exhausted from a full day and then being up late with their lake friends. By the time the sun sets this evening, we’ll have summer packed away until next year.
It’s going to be a great day. I know it and I can feel it. Sunday by the lake in early September means making the day count by pitching in and doing what needs to be done. So, I had better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days count, one day at time.
What a great week! I am back to school for a twenty-fourth year of teaching. It was a great week for so many reasons, but I am going to share three BIG IDEAS – eight, hike, and inspirational. It was so good I think I am going to go back on Monday for another week.
A few weeks ago, I read a blog post by Beth at I Didn’t Have My Glasses On. Her post was a clip of an article about a decree by the president of Turkmenistan concerning the cycle of life. According to the decree, life comes in cycles of 12 years and the cycles are:
Childhood (birth – 13 years)
Adolescence (13-25 years)
Youth (25 to 37 years)
Maturity (37 to 49 years)
Prophesy (49 to 61 years)
inspirational (61 to 73 years)
Wisdom (73 to 85 years)
Old Age (85 to 97 years)
I find myself on the cusp of prophecy and inspirational. However, when I look in the mirror, I can see all of the cycles, but I can identify with childhood and adolescence. I believe my kiddos see me where I am on the cusp of being prophetic and inspirational. For the next ten months that is where I will spend most of my weekdays working with kids teaching and learning, but mostly learning, bouncing between cycles.
Yesterday was my twenty-fourth first day of school, well, not completely. I was with teachers and administrators for meetings and new school year information, but kids will arrive Thursday. I am excited and I am sure the kids are, too..
I have one more day of meeting and a FULL day to work in my classroom and prepare for Thursday’s real first day of school with kids.
It’s Sunday and I am sitting at my summer office and listening to the gentle whirrrrr of the hummingbird at the feeder to my upper left. It’s Sunday morning quiet and except for the occasional car, truck, or airplane I can hear the birds singing in the trees. Fern and Ivy laying nearby enjoying the time outside.
Friday evening, I noticed it seemed darker than normal at 8:15 PM. Early Saturday morning, I read the morning New York Times email which confirmed Friday evening’s observation, summer is waning.
Sunset in NYC on Wednesday is at 8:00pm. The sun won’t set later than 8:00pm in NYC again until May 9th, 2023.
Confirmation of my observation piqued my curiosity so, I researched. As it turned out, Wednesday August 9th was also the final 8 PM sunset for this summer where I live. The next 8 PM sunset won’t occur for another 274 days or until May 9th. Being curious, I researched further, here are some lasts and nexts, in case you are wondering:
the last 7 PM sunset 9/15/2022, the next 7PM sunset, 3/17/2023
the last 6 PM sunset 10/22/2022, the next 6PM sunset, 3/12/2023
change in daylight savings time occurs 3/11/2023
the last 5 PM sunset 11/5/2022 at 5:41 PM but the shift away from daylight savings time makes the sunset on 11/6/2022 – 4:40 PM, the next 5PM sunset, 1/27/2023
the earliest sunset occurs at 4:21 PM between 12/3 to 12/14/2022
If you are curious, you can research your location using the Time and Date sun calculator. There is a plethora of information: sunrise, sunset, sun angle, and more.
I love our garden and our backyard. I enjoy sitting at the patio table outside and working. We’ve lived in our home almost 31 years and it has evolved and grown.
The backyard is peaceful and calming unless a lawn crew next door or across the street. But lawn crews are here briefly, except for Saturday morning, but I am usually out of the house volunteering at the food pantry. The birds nor the flowers seem to mind.
This morning Fern and I woke before six and we spent our morning routine outside on the deck. The birds chirped, mostly house sparrows and cardinals, but I have seen American robins, black capped chickadees, house finches, and an occasional American goldfinch at the feeders. And the hummingbirds, occasionally I’ll hear a buzz to my left and look up to watch a hummingbird move in for a drink. Continue reading greetings from our garden→
As a kid I never gave thought to what teachers did over summer break. I was free. I could sleep late, stay up late, and read what and when I wanted.
I am finishing my twenty-third summer break as a teacher. That first summer, 1999, really wasn’t a break at all. It was spent applying for jobs, and interviews, and finally landing a teaching job in the middle of July.
I remember that interview well, it was more a conversation than an interview. I remember walking out of the principal’s office and seeing the eleven o’clock interviewee waiting and thinking that I had nailed the interview. Actually, we both did. Both of us were hired that year and will still teach at the same school, today.
Now twenty-three year later, I know teachers are busy but I can still do those things I did as a kid. But school is coming and it’s like a lion.
In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle the quiet jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
The end of summer is like the lion, it sleeps and then roars. School begins next week, and I’ve spent summer doing those things I said I’d do when school was out, and I had more time. I’ve also spent time thinking and re-thinking how I am going to approach this year. I took a class, and I taught a class and though it all, I am ready to get back to school next Monday.
Last week, I taught a class. It was a one-day teacher’s camp, and it was optional for all of us – teachers and learners, though only teachers came. The class I taught was titled, Lions and Wildebeest – using Puzzles to Engage 21st Century Learners.
The class was based on a lesson that I taught last spring. It was a Monday lesson before spring break. My science classes had finished a major unit the previous Friday and taken the test. We had five days before spring break with three days of state-mandated testing set for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Experience taught me not much beyond testing would be done that week and I needed a lesson to encourage my students to be curious and full of wonder and be ready for the fourth quarter which would begin the Monday after break.
The sound of rain woke me this morning at 5:35 AM and the thought I’d forgotten to roll up my windows got me out of bed. Any other summer morning, I might have gotten up, gone to the bathroom, and crawled back beneath the covers, but not this morning. I pulled on a pair of shorts, grabbed my car keys, and walked out to my car to confirm that I had forgotten to roll up my windows.
I not sure the term ‘roll up the windows’ applies any longer. The last car I had that had manual windows was the 1971 VW Beetle or it could have been the 1985 Jetta, but it has been a long time since I have rolled up the window with a hand crank. I did remember to bring the key and I had to start the car before I could get the windows closed. I am glad I woke when I did, it continues to gently rain as I begin to write a couple of hours later.
Maybe next time, I’ll remember to close my windows or at least check them, when I know rain is in the forecast. After all, last night we covered the boats, closed the shack door, and put away summer things in anticipation of the rain this morning. It is something we learned under grandpa years ago. It’s summer learning, but it could be said that ‘some’re learning’ which is how ‘some are learning’ sounds if you aren’t listening to the context.
School restarts for me, a week from tomorrow. I am excited to get back to school and try somethings I learned this summer and continue to practice what I’ve learned about teaching kids in the past twenty-three years. The first three days of school are filled with meetings, time to plan, and time to get the room ready for the kids who join us on Thursday, August 18.
A couple of friends joined us this past Wednesday and as always, we enjoyed their visit. They are the same couple who we vacationed with this past spring in the Keys. They are also the same couple we drove home with after BOTH of our flights home were cancelled on Saturday, April 2. All four of us sharing driving time through Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and southeastern Indiana where their son was able to meet them and take them to their home in southwestern Ohio.
Thursday morning, we decided on a visit to Mackinac. It’s pronounced – mack-in-naw and it is Ojibwa word for ‘turtle’ and refers to the island which dominates the strait between the upper and lower peninsula.
We could not have chosen a better day for our trip; clear blue skies with puffy clouds drifting across the horizon and comfortable temperatures.
It’s race weekend in the town near the lake where we spend much of our summer. Actually, as I am about to press, PUBLISH, the race is complete. If you watch the video, winners are the third canoe to pass and while the canoe in the lead finishes in second place. It’s a long race.
The race creates excitement for Grayling. And for us, too.
Yesterday was busy. Our kids, led by W, decided they were going to scuba dive in the lake. Both are scuba certified but that didn’t make my wife, or I feel any better about diving in the lake off the pontoon boat. But they did and they had a wonderful time.
our kids, on the surface
Afterwards, they spent time on the lake, and we gathered at the table for dinner – ribs, beans, and salads (not pictured, but delicious).
Then it was off to watch the start of the race, the AuSable River Canoe Marathon. Town is only minutes from the lake and the river source is in the highlands north of the lake. Two other rivers have their sources in the highlands around us and all three are known for their trout fishing and canoeing. Continue reading the race→