In second or third grade, my teachers did that thing where you fill a jar with wet paper towels and then poke corn kernels and beans around the outside, and as they send out roots and send up shoots, you get to watch the whole process. Last fall, I decided I wanted to do that in my classroom, just for a little excitement, even if it’s an English class in a high school rather than an elementary science room. I left the jar of corn on my desk for a long time, too busy to get to it, but at the beginning of the semester, a couple students noticed and asked what it was. When I told them, they went and filled the jar with wet paper towels, and we poked the corn in along the sides. I rubber-banded a piece of plastic over the top to keep in the moisture.
Within days, the roots were beginning to grow, and it was less than a week before the sprouts started poking upward. I brought them home last night to plant in a little container, and now I am going to do a set of beans.
Maybe it will help my students to connect with natural processes in a visceral way. Maybe it will be a metaphor for their own rampant growth. Maybe it’s just a nice diversion, a way to spark and nurture generalized curiosity. It’s a fun thing to have in the classroom, and a community-building experience: Everyone is rooting for growth.
Gratitude List: 1. Growth 2. Green 3. Curiosity 4. Hope (Curiosity and Hope were the themes of last weekend’s conference) 5. Jon WK. He’s always on my implicit Gratitude List, but sometimes I’ve just got to mention how marvelous it is to share a life with such a wise and compassionate soul.
In memory of my Aunt Elizabeth Weaver, and in honor of the Bookbinder of Water Street, whom I have never met.
The bookbinder’s hands have always been there,
golden in the glow of the lamp light,
curved over the book’s curling skin,
over the cover of an ancient volume
of German poetry, or an Ausbund, perhaps.
Smoothing the pages of a treatise
on divine rights of liberty written
when this was still Penn’s Woods.
The bookbinder sees with fingertips
the miniscule tears, the frayed edge,
the embossment like landscapes,
fingers gently curling like Kwan Yin’s
in a sacred mudra, touching holiness
with tenderness, while the dust
of centuries twinkles in the lamp light
above the bookbinder’s careful hands.
Final Prompt of January
Friends, this has been for me a marvelous month. Thank you for your kind words and responses and “likes.” During February, I will weed and edit and cultivate this month’s crop of poems, and some others which I have been hoarding. Yesterday, my friend Kelsey Myers sent me the link to this poem. Thematically, it’s a challenging read–breezy on the surface and brutal at the heart. I love it, and I want to do my own version of a definition poem for my last poem of the month. Join me for one last romp through the word-meadows? (Oh, there will be plenty more after I have had my little break. Meanwhile, I will continue to create poem-fodder in the shape of Gratitude Lists, and write some little poems here and there.)
1. I gave myself a gift–signed up for Flame in the Hand, John Terlazzo’s writer’s workshop.
3. Synchronicity–I woke up thinking of an Idea, and turned on FB to read a message by a friend asking me whether I had ever considered this Idea.
4. Face cream and body oil and glasses of water and rain