Cats in the Classroom

My classroom has cats. I think Sachs would approve of the look this filter gave him.
Because this is how we live now.

Gratitude List:
1. Slowly, but surely, I am catching up on some of my pre-Friday-the-13th work. It has been really difficult to adjust schedules and plans to fit online learning. I’m beginning to carve out spaces for big grading in the midst of the daily tasks.
2. Maybe it’s the fat coffee (cream and butter, coconut oil and protein powder), or maybe it’s the new schedule, but I realized yesterday that I don’t feel run down and exhausted anymore. Even though I am working almost all the time, I feel charged and up to the tasks of my day.
3. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Josiah and I finished that one yesterday, and I love the reminder that the real adventure is the one that takes you inside yourself. That adventure is always available.
4. Goldfinches. They’re going to show up a lot on here because they’re my constant visual companions right now, and getting shinier by the day. I live on Goldfinch Farm, and we named it that for a reason, and in these challenging days, that reason has become one of my grounding delights.
5. Yesterday I saw the phoebe! Sitting on a branch above the bluff, dipping her tail. I have been hearing them, but there’s something about catching that glimpse. . .

Take care of each other!


“Let us keep courage and try to be patient and gentle. And let us not mind being eccentric, and make distinction between good and evil.” —Vincent van Gogh


“Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth.” —Albus Dumbledore


Love the earth and sun and the animals,
despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
stand up for the stupid and crazy,
devote your income and labor to others,
hate tyrants, argue not concerning God,
have patience and indulgence toward the people,
take off your hat to nothing known or unknown,
or to any man or number of men,
go freely with powerful uneducated persons,
and with the young, and with the mothers or families,
re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book,
and dismiss whatever insults your own soul;
and your very flesh shall be a great poem.
—Walt Whitman, from the Preface to Leaves of Grass


THE OLD WISDOM

When the night wind makes the pine trees creak
And the pale clouds glide across the dark sky,
Go out my child, go out and seek
Your soul: The Eternal I.
For all the grasses rustling at your feet
And every flaming star that glitters high
Above you, close up and meet
In you: The Eternal I.
Yes, my child, go out into the world; walk slow
And silent, comprehending all, and by and by
Your soul, the Universe, will know
Itself: the Eternal I.
—Jane Goodall


“If you believe peace is the absence of war, you’ve missed the mark. There will never be full peace until we treat each other the way we want to be treated. Peace is allowing an individual or group of people to command their space in the way they know how without the violent intervention from another.” —Leymah Gbowee

Whales in the Village

Dreaming in the Exile:
There are whales in a large pool/ pond at little town where I am staying. I remember watching a video of a woman who could talk to whales, so I try making those sounds, and they come to where I am. One of them, a little orca with a toothy grin, keeps finding colored dice on the bottom of the pool and spitting them out of the water at me. When I throw them back, the little orca chases them–like a dog–and brings them back.

Later, I take a dawn walk from my bungalow through the village. I stop to check on friends, and hear beautiful piano music from the front of the house (my friends rent the back). I realize that the man who lives there knows I make this walk every day, and plays his piano every morning just for me. Later, someone in the village is hurting, and one of my students stands up and takes charge, without any panic, and calmly takes the person to the hospital. I am proud or her.

Thinking: I have dreamed of whales before, and it always seems to signal some big thing in my deeper layers of self, something wanting to make itself known. Usually I encounter dream-whales in pools and ponds. This one was in a village, and so I think it may be connected to something in my Deep Self connecting to the importance of my village right now, of the ways we check up on each other, the ways we play, the ways we make music and poetry and art to delight each other, the way we rise to the needs of the occasion. I am proud of us. Of you.

( My family does not like dice games as much as I do, but today, I think I am going to do the mama-beg, and get them to play some Tenzi with me.)


Gratitude List:
1. Phoebe and red-winged blackbird have added their voices to the chorus.
2. Redbuds and cherry trees are blooming. Forsythia is blooming. Welcome, Spring!
3. In the midst of chaos and anxiety, I love the strong voice and careful speech of PA’s Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine. She exudes competence.
4. The Village of All of You.
5. Jon Weaver-Kreider

Take care of each other!

After All

Today’s prompt on Poetic Asides is to write a Poem titled, “After ______.”

After All
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

After all is said and done,
when you’ve won the battle,
when you catch your breath
and stretch your fingers to the sun,

will you still believe in all the words
and songs that led you to your path?
Will you remember all the guides
who walked beside you in the lonesome days?

Will you praise the small coincidences
of the wayside trees that brought you comfort,
and the sort of incidental shining stones
that made a trail for you to follow?

After the dust has settled,
after the room has stopped spinning,
after the dice have rolled the magic number,
will you stumble onward blindly

in the noonday glare, or will you pause
and rest a moment, give a knowing glance
toward the river and the willows, the pebbles
and the flaming trees of spring?

Will you sing a grateful poem to the day?
Will you kneel? Will you build an altar?
Will you dance? Will you pray?


Gratitude List:
1. Phoebe calling
2. Bluebird muttering
3. Fixing things
4. Water
5. Poeming

May we walk in Beauty!

Long Gratitude


Last year at a wedding shower, I received a sweet little aloe in a little round pot. Today, I re-planted it and its four babies. “Where there is love, there is life. –Mahatma Gandhi,” said that little tag attached to it. My how love has grown! May it always be so. May love find a way. Blessings to Hugo and Philip. May their love be a blessing to others.

Gratitude List:
(I didn’t do one yesterday, so I am taking liberties today.)
1. A whole flock of turkeys in the field across from Flinchbaugh’s this morning.
2. Bees in the windflowers and crocus.
3. The blue eye of speedwells all across the lawn.
4. Bluebirds murmuring around the hollow.
5. Phoebe looking for a place to nest.
6. Hot tea with milk and honey.
7. Warm sunshine
8. The scent of spring rain: petrichor is the word I’ve heard for it.
9. Green ink
10. The magic of writing: fonts, typeface, the alphabet, calligraphy
11. The Book Fairy has struck again! The children have half a new bookshelf of new things to read.

May we walk in Beauty!

Pigeon and Dawn

pigeon
Shirati, Tanzania: a long-ago dawn with African green pigeon. (1969?)

From a photo of a distant place of my childhood to a poem of my River, just down the ridge from where I am typing in the newborn morning. I wrote this one of April of 2014:

Susquehanna Dawning
by Elizabeth Weaver-Kreider

Stand just there on the sandy bank of the river.
There, where the water laps over the roots
of the ancient sycamore. There, where the bridge
and the memory of a bridge run over the water.

Listen for the rustle and murmur of dawning,
the whisper of wavelets, the groan of the trees,
the sudden wild call of robin: thrush of the morning,
leading the dawn chorus, unwrapping the day.

What will you discover this daybreak, this borning?
What stories will otter bring you? And heron?
What are the words that the river will utter,
there, where the sun spreads the golden road before you?

Gratitude List:
1. Phoebe, sitting out in the misty, dripping trees, calling his name into the dawn.
2. The mist, the rainy season
3. The trees: sycamore, poplar, oak, walnut, dogwood, maple, willow
4. Those two crows, winging purposefully across the hollow
5. All the ways in which we hold each other, carry each other, listen for the sound of each other’s tears and laughter, even from great distances.

May we walk in Beauty!

Vision and Re-Vision

DSCN9105
My classroom door.  Perhaps it’s time to tidy it a bit.

What of Little Red’s mother?
She had to know the child would wander,
had to know the natural curiosity,
the inborn politeness that would not scorn a stranger,
toothy as he was, and oily with charm.

Did she lie awake at night,
heart pounding,
plotting how to protect her child
from wolves and poison and brambles?

And when the strange news reached her,
of her child and her mother
rescued from the ravenous belly of death,
did she quake with the knowledge
of all she could not protect them from?

(We’re practicing poetry revisions in Creative Writing right now.  This is one that will need the scalpel, but I might be able to pull something out of it.  Yesterday, I took one of my poems from a few days ago, threw it up on the Smart Board, and did some revisions right in front of them.  They were really quiet.  I hope that it gave them courage to work their own poems into shape.)

Gratitude List:
1. Re-vision.  Re-shaping.  Re-creating.  Re-making.  Re-forming.  (I am thinking that Visions and Re-Visions might be the name of my next book.  I wonder if it’s been done already.)
2. Fifty miles to the gallon.  I have only driven the Prius for a day now, but I have become what Jon calls a hyper-miler–I drive to get the good mileage.
3. Zesty greens
4. The yellow tulips outside the office at school.  Red stripes through the petals.
5. Phoebe and white-throat sparrow, plaintive and insistent.

May we walk in Beauty!

Sing Me that Song

fern

Last year, I began my April 2 Poem with “Sing me that Song.”

I’ll try it again this year:

Sing me that song,
like Phoebe in spring,
where you sing your own name
over and over,
reminding the world
how you belong here,
naming this spot as your true home.

Sing it fiercely into the rain.
Sing your true name.
Sing it like a whisper in the dawn,
then loud and louder,
feeling it enter the the deepest corners
inside the hidden chambers of your heart,
inside the locked rooms
where you waited so fearfully
for hope to enter.

Gratitude List:
1. Phoebe in the hollow
2. I’m just going to repeat this one from two years ago: “Robin singing the sun to birth and singing it to sleep again [in the] evening. A day bookmarked by robinsong cannot go far awry.”
3. Poetry
4. Presence
5. Planning

May we walk in Beauty!

Fledging and Farming

Gratitude List:
1.  Phoebes are fledging.  I am grateful for the close-up, firsthand connection we get with the natural world.  (I am also stressed out about needing to watch over more young and vulnerable folks in the world.)
2013 June 050
2.  We found where the orioles have their nest.  Just a woven bag of strings and plant fibers hanging out at the very end of a branch.
3.  A wonderful first harvest day.  Again we have a delightful and energetic crew, lots of good energy, and a great community of vegetable-lovers stopping by all afternoon.  The shares were on the small side, but full of delicious goodness.
2013 June 072
4.  We’ve had good rain, but it didn’t rain today.
5.  The way the village raises the children.

May we walk in Beauty.

Waking Up

Like the remnants of fog burning away in the morning sun
the last rags of dream whisper through the valleys
of my waking brain, gnats caught in the cobwebs of consciousness.

In the beginning of the year, the drops of mist form words
and a sentence emerges like a sapling from the fog:
All that I have been is compounded in the present moment.

One morning I wake and the spiders whisper the name
of an impossibly green stone, like poison, like miracles:
Dioptase, a viridian eye that sends forth the tentacles of the heart.

Or a song will be ringing in my ears as I tiptoe downstairs
in the dawn: Give yourself to love, if love is what you’re after.
Open up your heart to the tears and the laughter.

I gather the strands of silk and wool and hope that have caught
on the fences between the world of waking and sleeping,
and weave them into the story of the day, the week, the year.

There was this one: I am walking down a sunny city street
and am filled suddenly with foreboding, knowledge of a Terrible Presence.
I know that it will destroy me, and the world, if it senses my recognition.

The key, I learned without learning,
is to keep that knowledge hidden in the back of my brain
and cover it up with gratitude and joy and hope.

(Already I know that I will be revising this poem, to make it less self-referential, less plodding.  But I wanted to get it down today, and this is the place where I do this work.  Welcome to my process.)

Gratitude List:
1.  Towhee is back.  Ellis misidentified him as the orchard oriole.  If you know the two birds or have a bird book handy, you’ll understand why that makes me proud.  He’s getting his birder’s eyes on.
2.  Weighing cheese for the farm store with Ellis.  Impromptu math lesson on rounding up and down to the nickel.
3.  Chocolate cake/brownie goodness.  We have discovered the Grand Unifying Theory.  This is the basis of everything.  I love the Saturday crew.
4.  Phoebe babies in the barn.  It reminded me of the lovely book which my Great Aunt Lizzie gave to us when we were children.  I will read it to my own children again this coming week as we wait for the little ones to fledge.
5.  Ellis making the point that one of the things that is important to him is taking care of the very smallest ones.
(Hmmm.  A lot of Ellis in this list.  He’s a special kid, and so is his brother.)

May we walk in Beauty!

Everyone is Coming Home

This morning when I went out into the balmy sunrise to feed the chickens, I thought a strange wren was singing in the walnut tree.  He had such an odd accent.  But suddenly instead of wren, cardinal was calling, then robin was clucking out a scold, then jay announced, “News!  News!”  And there, at the very top branch of the walnut, was my old friend Mockingbird, giving me the run-down of all the folks he’d met on his wintertime journeys.  He seems to have expanded his repertoire of languages.  Welcome back, Polyglot.

And the swallows and the phoebe were back last week, along with the pileated woodpecker.  I put nectar in the oriole feeder today in case that friend arrives in the next week or two.  I’ll have to put out some oranges this week.

Mockingbird is the inspiration for this blog.  When my own internal editor gets too demanding, I listen instead for the voice of Mockingbird, my new editor of choice: “Oh, just say it again.  Say it more forcefully.  Say it three times in Spanish.”  I think we’re going to have a very good summer, Old Friend.

 

This is me at 3.
Slides 108

Gratitude List:
1.  Mockingbird is back in the hollow.
2.  The peony stalks are pushing up above the soil.
3.  This phrase, that was in my head this morning, when I woke up: “The life force is wanton and indiscriminate.  Use it.”  It may be time to start keeping a specific journal of the words and phrases that sit in my brain when I wake up in the mornings.
4.  Taking it one step at a time.
5.  Good old Vitamin D
May we walk in Beauty.