Turning Toward Spring

A Random Catalog of Thoughts During Exile:
1. The rhythm of my days is much gentler and more self-paced, but it’s not really less busy. The work is still there, and perhaps there’s even more work. Instead of relying on a well-sketched idea and my own charisma to carry a class, I have to communicate my lesson plans extremely carefully and clearly for my students. I love this, too, but it’s a lot of determined work.
2. There are different kinds of tired. The tired feeling after one of those days of charismatic engagement with students is different from the tiredness of spending most of the day attached to my computer, communicating with people through a screen.
3. I miss my students. I didn’t think that would happen so soon, but I think the worry about everything has me thinking more about them, too, wondering how they are, missing the daily jokes in second period AP Comp, the earnestness of first period, the wild creativity, the sleepy good humor of others. Yesterday, I had Office Hours via Google Meet for my AP Comp classes, and I loved checking in with those who showed up. I don’t know how long this will go, but I am going to start having one or two periods of time every school day in which I have Office Hours, and anyone may stop in to talk.
4. I think I am doing pretty well at handling the anxiety, at being Rumi’s “Guest House,” and welcoming in all the challenging feelings. But I think I have let my anxiety lodge in my lower back. I rarely have back pain for more than a few hours. This week, it’s been a lot more prolonged. It may be partly the longer walks up hill and down, and the increased time sitting at a computer, but if I am honest, I think it’s also connected to the anxiety. Yoga has been incredibly helpful.
5. One of those goldfinches has a white forehead. I wonder if it’s a mutation, or just a bit of molting weirdness?
6. Here in the eastern US, where I live, Spring will arrive today, just before the turning of the day into tomorrow: 11:49. For the past six years, I have not had the chance to observe the shift into spring so closely. Happy Equinox, Friends!
7. That cardinal out in the grey wet morning is shining out like a glowing coal.
8. I need to work even harder to establish daily rhythms. I am a work-on-it-until-it’s-done person. I don’t take enough breaks. I need to work on chunking my activities a little more intentionally.
9. There needs to be more baking in this house during the Exile.
10. One son has a Flexible Instructional Day Plan. If I didn’t interrupt him occasionally, he would work from the moment he gets up (late morning) until midnight, with a few breaks to play Minecraft. This kid was built for cyber-schooling. I don’t think his teachers are assigning him too much work. I think he just likes to go down his own rabbit trails. Now I need to make sure he is keeping up with the reading and writing, too.
11. The other son has no FID plan. He re-arranges his room. He plays online games. He asks me to play games with him. He rejects all my suggestions for projects and activities. “I might do that later.” I haven’t been able to help him out much because I have been focused on my own school work. Tomorrow is a day off, so I will spend some time helping him to develop a plan.
12. I love that some people are calling these Jammy Days and living in their pajamas. On the other hand, I find that dressing in the morning gives me a certain energy and wakefulness. This is not true for everyone, of course, but I don’t feel fully ready for the day until I am dressed.


Gratitude List:
1. Cardinal shining through the rain. Birdlife at the feeder.
2. Establishing new rhythms. The first few days were hard. Keep your head down and slog through. Make it work. Now, I am seeing my way to establishing the home rhythm.
3. Baking. Yesterday it was scones. Today it might be scones again: I have to practice, don’t I?
4. Online connections. I give myself limits and parameters to social media use during the day, and I will be creating even more careful structure in the future. Still, outside connections are keeping me sane and grounded.
5. The way crises open up spaces for new paradigms. How Mutual Aid is rising as an important social construct. I love people.

May we walk in Beauty!


“Think of the magic of that foot, comparatively small, upon which your whole weight rests. It’s a miracle, and the dance is a celebration of that miracle.” —Martha Graham


“What in your life is calling you,
When all the noise is silenced,
The meetings adjourned. . .
The lists laid aside,
And the Wild Iris blooms
By itself
In the dark forest. . .
What still pulls on your soul?”
—Rumi


“For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life
And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love
And to both, bee and flower,
the giving and the receiving is a need and an ecstasy.” —Khalil Gibran


“Find the sweetness in your own heart,
then you may find the sweetness in every heart.”
—Rumi


“There is in Celtic mythology the notion of ‘thin places’ in the universe where the visible and the invisible world come into their closest proximity. To seek such places is the vocation of the wise and the good—and for those that find them, the clearest communication between the temporal and eternal. Mountains and rivers are particularly favored as thin places marking invariably as they do, the horizontal and perpendicular frontiers. But perhaps the ultimate of these thin places in the human condition are the experiences people are likely to have as they encounter suffering, joy, and mystery.” —Peter Gomes


“You are personally responsible for becoming more ethical than the society you grew up in.” —Eliezer Yudkowsky


“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” —Dr. Seuss


March
by James Wright

A bear under the snow
Turns over to yawn.
It’s been a long, hard rest.
Once, as she lay asleep, her cubs fell
Out of her hair,
And she did not know them.
It’s hard to breathe
In a tight grave:
So she roars,
And the roof breaks.
Dark rivers and leaves
Pour down.
When the wind opens its doors
In its own good time,
The cubs follow that relaxed and beautiful woman
Outside to the unfamiliar cities
Of moss.


Spring Follows Winter Once More
by Tom Hennen

Lying here in the tall grass
Where it’s so soft
Is this what it is to go home?
Into the earth
Of worms and black smells
With a larch tree gathering sunlight
In the spring afternoon
And the gates of Paradise open just enough
To let out
A flock of geese.

An Abundance of Caution

There’s no shame in using an abundance of caution in times of pandemic. This is new to all of us. If you’ve been instructed to stay home, and if it is at all possible: Stay home. If you must go out, wash your hands, and wash your hands, and wash your hands again. Check on your neighbors and beloveds by phone or email or text. How can we help each other during these times?

Settle in. Get some exercise. Read. Paint. Play games and do puzzles. Write that book.

Read this poem by Lynn Ungar:
“Pandemic”


Gratitude List:
1. We saw both Golda and Gator in the pond today. She’s a golden koifish, the Queen of the Pondrealm. He is a Vietnamese Algae Eater, enormous and hard to spot. They often swim together. I didn’t see Gator last season. I figured he had died. But there he was today, looming in the depths.
2. Long walks. I am pushing my step-count up for the weeks that I am home, trying to use the time to get in shape.
3. Tree-shadows striping the fields and hills.
4. Good rest. I am sleeping better these days.
5. Poetry.

May we walk in Beauty!

Synchronicity and Spin

On a walk by the pond yesterday with my small boy, the phone slipped as I was taking a photo, and gave me a swirly image, so I replicated the slip, and found this.

Gratitude List:
1. Motivation. Wherever it comes from. I read a silly thing the other day that suggested that if you have trouble getting the motivation to exercise or remembering to take your vitamins, imagine that the health boost is magically transferred to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Somehow, at least for now, it’s been helping.
2. Learning to rest. When I had the backlog stacks of grading hanging over me, I didn’t always manage to get to chipping away at it every evening, but everything I did was colored by that low-grade panic: I SHOULD be doing that. Now that I am caught up and keeping up, I still find that panic rising, and now I can remind myself that everything is okay. I am caught up, and I am going to keep up with it this time. I have a better plan.
3. Little synchronicities
4. Little daily rituals
5. Nourishment, of all sorts

May we walk in Beauty!


“We love because it’s the only true adventure.” —Nikki Giovanni


“Everything we do is music.” —John Cage


Abba Poemon said, “Teach your mouth to say what is in your heart.”


“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” ―Audre Lorde


“There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”
―Audre Lorde


“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” ―Audre Lorde


“We’re still dumb kids, just gray
and tame. If we had it to do again, we’d get it
right.”
―from Jack Ridl’s “The Reunion”


“For a lack of attention a thousand forms of loveliness elude us every day.” ―Evelyn Underhill


“… a ditch somewhere – or a creek, meadow, woodlot, or marsh…. These are places of initiation, where the borders between ourselves and other creatures break down, where the earth gets under our nails and a sense of place gets under our skin.… Everybody has a ditch, or ought to. For only the ditches and the field, the woods, the ravines – can teach us to care enough for all the land.” —Robert Michael Pyle, Thunder Tree: Lessons from an Urban Wildland

Now We Begin Again


The secret of the Universe.

A somewhat random assortment of quotations for a Monday morning:
“I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.” ― Anne Lamott
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“[E]ducation is not just about utilizing a particular curriculum, or ensuring that critical reflection in a community follows a particular formula. It is full of intangible and random events. It is not just taught in the classroom, but lived in the midst of the community in ways that are not even fully quantifiable.”  ―M.S. Bickford on the educational theories of John Westerhoff
*
“The trouble with trouble is, it starts out as fun.” ―Anonymous
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“One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time…give it, give it all, give it now.”
— Annie Dillard
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“You can tell people of the need to struggle, but when the powerless start to see that they really can make a difference, nothing can quench the fire.”
— Leymah Gbowee
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“There are opportunities even in the most difficult moments.” — Wangari Maathai
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“Throughout my life, I have never stopped to strategize about my next steps. I often just keep walking along, through whichever door opens. I have been on a journey and this journey has never stopped. When the journey is acknowledged and sustained by those I work with, they are a source of inspiration, energy and encouragement. They are the reasons I kept walking, and will keep walking, as long as my knees hold out.”
— Wangari Maathai


Gratitude List:
1. First CSA Day of the Season! Today is First Harvest. We spent hours yesterday getting the market room ready. I took a mop to the walls. I need to make an offering to Athena again–the poor spiders had their lives severely disrupted. I actually need to run out somewhere this morning and get a new drive belt for the vacuum cleaner, which I severely overworked. But we’re essentially ready! The curtain is rising on the 2017 production of Goldfinch Farm CSA.
2. Good exercise. Every day, for the past three days, I have awakened with a much greater level of stiffness and ache, but it’s all from the increased exercise of summer. I should plan now for how to maintain that in the coming school year.
3. I am holding someone else’s good news like a secret and precious gem. Not my story to tell, not yet.
4. Feeling like I am getting organized. I am a conundrum. I love to be organized. I love spaces and datebooks and thoughts that are carefully and neatly arranged, but my world tends to fall rapidly toward chaos and mess. Right now, I am finding energy for the creation and maintenance of organized datebook and thoughts. Perhaps the physical spaces will follow, too. getting that market room ready yesterday was a help.
5. Weaving stories together.

May we walk in Beauty and Love.