If you had told me that I would be sitting outside writing a blog post on the second Sunday morning in November, I am not sure if I would have believed you.
But I am. The sun has shifted in the sky from where it is in the summer. I can feel the sun on my temple, and I can see my shadow in the laptop screen in front of me. Like many summer mornings when I have written a blog post outdoors on the deck at home or by the lake, I am wearing a pair of shorts and a sweatshirt. The temperature is 67F or almost 20C , there is a gentle breeze, and the sun is shining. It is a beautiful morning.
Yesterday morning, the puppies and I, sat outside and I enjoyed my morning coffee instead of inside on the couch. They sat side by side staring into the backyard, seemingly on watch for the critters they long to catch. The two puppies are really dogs, but they behave like puppies do full of curiosity and eagerness to run, jump, and play. Ivy, the older one, will be 11 years old in a few months and Fern, the younger one, is a little more than a year and a half.
Today was supposed to be the first day of my 2020-21 school year. It will be my 22nd year as a classroom teacher. It was also supposed to the first day of our daughter O’s senior year.
But it’s not. Our first days are a few more days away. My first day of school is nine days in the future and O’s is fifteen.
It’s been a summer of uncertainty and anxiety for many people as the future is constantly changing and beyond our control. I am reminded of a prayer my mother shared with many years ago when I was struggling and needed lifting up,
God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it, Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will, So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.
That prayer is better known as The Serenity Prayer. There is so much beyond my control, it is best to focus on the present.
And, I have been. I’ve been making the days count in more ways than I can write about.
Currently, I am on a streak of seven days of walking or working out.
A week ago this past Saturday I drove to the Morton Arboretum for a hike, or as it turned out, it was a troll. I was able to take in four of the six trolls on my almost 4-mile hike along the trails at the arboretum. It was my longest hike going back to April and it felt good to walk along the wooded paths and hear the birds and the rustle of the gentle wind through the leaves above.
Today is going to be an amazing day and it marks several milestones.
It is the first week of my summer break,
It’s the last day of May,
It’s been over eleven weeks our state closed schools until early April, then early May, and finally for the year,
I’ve been living and working by the lake for nine weeks,
It’s been five weeks since my last post, AND
I’ve been blogging for ten years and two days.
It’s also the last day of my Coronavirus protest beard. The last day I shaved was the last day I went to school – Friday, March 13th. When began my protest, I anticipated being back in school in a few weeks. Today, after I press ‘publish,’ the beard goes.
The final day of the 2019-20 school year ended Wednesday. It ended awkwardly and with uncertainty. Many of my students embraced shift to e-Learning, but sadly many did not. The ones who did are the students who had good habits and strong learning skills. The ones who didn’t, are the students who need the routine of school and even with being in the classroom these students struggle with learning or completing learning tasks. Looking back, it’s these students who are the reason I gravitated to teaching and middle school. I was one of those students who struggled in the classroom in middle school and early high school. It wasn’t until I was a junior that I figured it out.
Summer break began Thursday morning but living along the lake for nine weeks has allowed me to enjoy the benefits of remote teaching and learning remotely as well as the benefits of summer break while living and working. I’ve been fortunate to take advantage of the wilderness around us – the forest, the lake, and walking and hiking trails. I’ve taken some amazing walks through the forest trails, along the river, and along the lake shore. Most of all it’s the movement and the freshness of the air that has lifted me in the isolation of quarantine. It’s the balance of nature rising with the sun and resting with the sun’s setting that has made the biggest difference over the past elven weeks.
It’s been five weeks since my last published post, but I’ve started writing posts, stopped and didn’t finish. Mostly because I had teaching – preparing, assessing, and communicating – my primary job that took precedence. I have other jobs which kept me from writing – husband, father, son, brother, friend, dog owner, and self and each of those had multiple tasks – cook, housekeeper, and gardener to name only a few of the many roles I (we all) take on and try to keep balanced.
Walking and Hiking Since the quarantine began, I’ve been walking and hiking more. Surely the weather has been a factor as spring began and temperatures became warmer and the days got longer.
Hartwick Pines State Park is a short drive from the lake, and I’ve enjoyed the many hiking trails through the park. My favorite hike is the shortest hikes – a little less than two miles, but it’s the most peaceful, even though it’s likely the most popular trail in the park. The hiking trail is through a virgin pine forest and there is a chapel along the route to pause and reflect. The trail passes through a former logging camp constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
It is a glorious day. The sun is brightly shining through a cloudless sky.
I’ve been up since six this morning. I have been awake since before five this morning when I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. I gave up trying to sleep after almost an hour of tossing and turning in bed.
Through my bedroom window I could see the faint outline of the trees as earth came back to life early this morning. I remembered reading that three planets: Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars were aligned and visible in the early morning. So, I climbed out of bed, dressed, and started the coffee.
The lake was still, and the lake was shrouded in a deep blue hue in the pre-dawn light. Along the southeastern I could see one planet with the naked eye and could faintly make out the other two. I quickly snapped a shot and then used an iPhone app – Skyview Light – to visualize the early morning sky. What my eye could see, my phone could not – not enough light.
what my phone could see
what the app could see
But the three planets were there – hidden in the light.
“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” Henri Bergson
I love complex words. I am teacher and a learner or a learner and a teacher. The two go hand in hand. Learning never ends.
I began blogging at MakingtheDaysCount dot org almost ten years ago when I was teaching 7th grade English Language Arts. Really 7th grade ELA was my teaching assignment and I was really teaching kids. Teaching 7th grade ELA sharpened my curiosity and honed my knowledge of words and word parts……
chron means time, -ous means full of, syn- means with or together, a– means without or not
A few years after my first blog post, I was reassigned and moved to science and a new grade level. I embraced the change because that’s who I am – curious, positive, passionate, resilient, flexible, and determined.