Writer’s Notebook Wednesday

Today, while outside for a fire drill, I noticed that it is almost December. It is cold.  Frigid, almost.  Considering that the temperature on Thanksgiving was a balmy 65 degrees, today’s high of 40 degrees seems practically Arctic.  I notice the red noses on my students and the I’m-freezing-cold-can-we-please-go-in-now(whyisthistakingsolong) hoppity-dance they are doing to keep warm.  The leaves are no longer on the trees and the ground is cold and hard; finally frozen, brown , and dreary.  As I look around, the cold air on my skin and the chattering teeth I hear behind me remind me that Christmas is drawing nearer and winter is here for the long haul.  This gives me the idea that winter and cold will be surrounding me for a while and I should get used to it.  

Some people view winter as the dead time of the year, the low point in the wheel of seasons. Not so, says I. Look around you- the heartbeat of winter beats all around us. Notice the deer hoof prints in the newly fallen snow and imagine the small family scampering across the backyard in the dusky twilight. See the scarlet red flash of a cardinal as it alights from the snowy ground. Listen to the ‘chirp chirp’ of the winter birds as they eat at the birdfeeder. Taste the hot cocoa, with whipped cream and peppermint, as it passes over your lips. Feel the nip of the cold air as it chills your nose. Feel the warmth of the fleece gloves and scarf that you wrap yourself in to shield against the cold. See the snow-white moon in the navy blue sky, with the lone bright star shining in the distance.

 

Winter is beautiful. Stop, look around, appreciate it. Soak in the cold air and the bright sunlight. Relax under a blanket next to a warm, crackling fire. The wheel of seasons has been turning since time began and will keep turning when our time is up; now is our time to be a part of it.

WN Wednesday Entry

Today’s theme for Writer’s Notebook Entry (as taken from Two Writing Teachers) is: Who has changed your life? What person or people have made such a huge impact on your life that they’ve changed the course of it for you?

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Many people have changed my life over the course of the last 24 years. I sat down and tried to choose one to write about and realized I couldn’t do that without feeling like I was leaving someone out. Instead, I decided to take the topic in a new direction.

My life, both personal and professional, was changed 3 years ago when I entered my cooperating teacher’s classroom for my first practicum. Her classroom was full of monarch butterflies. They decorated the walls, windows, ceiling, bulletin boards, bookshelves, and desks. Monarchs at all stages of the life cycle were present in her room that day- eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises, and adults. To be frank, I thought it was a little crazy.

Over the course of the next few months, I slowly learned about monarch butterflies. I watched as the third-graders in my charge watched, wide-eyed, as an adult emerged from its chrysalis for the first time. I saw the wonder and amazement in their eyes as they saw their caterpillars metamorphosize in their classroom. I joined them as they waved goodbye to the adult monarchs at their butterfly release. I was amazed by their knowledge and expertise when they gave tours of the classroom or explained their classroom pets to visitors. They truly were “monarch experts”.

For the next year I was back and forth in that classroom, eventually doing my own student teaching there. Throughout this time, Sue encouraged me to take the workshop which inspired her- Teaching and Learning with Monarch Butterflies. I always managed to put it off due to work or school commitments, telling myself that I had already learned everything I needed to know in that classroom. Finally, I managed to squeeze the 3-day workshop into my schedule.

Those 3 days were the most powerful in my short teaching career. The friends and colleagues I met inspired me creatively, professionally, and personally. Since then, I have raised monarchs every spring and summer. Monarchs are my classroom in the fall, and this year they are the theme of my classroom. The power and strength of this tiny insect, less than 3 inches wide, is awe-inspiring. As I tell my students, if this tiny butterfly with fragile wings can migrate 2000 miles to forest that its great-great-great grandparents left in the previous spring, then we can do anything.

This winter, I will finally be traveling to Mexico to visit the over-wintering grounds of the monarch butterfly, in the Transvolcanic Mountains of Mexico. I fully expect to be a different person when I return. So while the monarchs themselves aren’t a “person”, they have made me the teacher, global citizen, and human being that I am today.

Writer’s Notebook Wednesday

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“Don’t drop the ring, don’t drop the ring, don’t drop the ring!”

I repeated the mantra over and over in my head as I rolled the thick, heavy wedding band across my thumb. Below my feet, the wooden planks that made up the dock seemed to have spaces the size of textbooks between them. I inched the ring up higher on my thumb, feeling the large space between the metal and my skin, as I imagined the horrified gasps of the wedding guests when I dropped it. In my mind, I could hear the plunk of the heavy ring on the wood followed by the bloop of the ring hitting the water before sinking to the bottom of the bay. Gripping it tighter, I repeated my new mantra under my breath, “Don’t drop the ring”.

“May we have the rings?” the minister asked suddenly. With a sigh of relief, I handed over the wedding band. As Julie turned to place it on Scott’s finger, I bent down to straighten her train. As I did so, I glanced at the dock beneath my feet and uttered a silent byt grateful prayer of thanks to whichever god looks over small-fingered Maids of Honor and expensive wedding rings.

Writer’s Notebook Wednesday

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This is my first contribution to Writer’s Notebook Wednesday! It is a personal narrative I have been writing alongside my class:

As we pulled into the stranger’s driveway, the excitement in the car grew. The garage door was open and we could see two golden-fleeced puppies playing in a large crate.

“We are definitely getting one!” Megan exclaimed. We all laughed, but we knew it was true. We could never leave without a puppy, having seen them.

Quickly, we piled out of the Rav-4 and introduced ourselves to the breeder. She let us know that the boy was the one wearing a green collar and that the little girl was the one in the pink collar. The boy was already reserved but the little girl was available.

“Go ahead, you can let them out and play with them. Take them out on the front lawn!” the breeder said. Megan rushed to the cage and opened the latch.

A tangle of legs and tails piled out, all golden and fluffy. Yip yip! Both puppies raced towards the lawn, tumbling over their unsteady legs wagging tails. We watched them play with each other, racing around the lawn and garden, wrestling and playing. Megan chased the little girl and then sat down in the garage. Without a sound, the little girl slowly approached. She sniffed Megan’s foot expectantly and before we could say a word, she threw herself into Megan’s lap! We were in love! After a few more minutes, Megan scooped up the puppy in her arms and said in a decided voice, “We are getting her!”.

With a laugh, we turned to the breeder and made it official. As the money was turned over and the contract was signed, we made our way to the car with our new baby girl. After an hour of playing outside with her brother, meeting a whole new family, and being adopted- she was exhausted. As we pulled out of the driveway, she snuggled up on the backseat, between all of us. As she slept soundly, surrounded by the love of her new family, Mom leaned back and said, “Welcome home, Lucy”.

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