Monday, October 6, 2014

Autobiographical Challenge: Days 21 & 22

Going to the snow

Once I had children and was still teaching, one of my favorite things was to create field trips that my students and my children could all participate in. I grew up in Wyoming where I thought I would never want to see the snow again, but now I live at sea level and almost never get snow. One of the best field trip opportunities was to drive up 40 minutes and 4,000 feet to the snow park and take the whole crew sledding. When you don’t really have seasons beyond cool rain and warm rain, snow becomes a magical element. The snow park gets feet of snow instead of inches and it has an old wooden cabin with a woodstove for public use, so we always brought jugs of water and hot chocolate powder for a warming break. No one here really has winter clothing but for one snowy afternoon we could make due with rain gear and layers of sweaters and mittens that soaked through instantly. It was cold there, so the snow almost always had a crust and was too solid for snow angels, but there would be speedy downhill runs and enough powder scraped up to make a few snowballs.

This picture shows the kind of teacher I always strive to be, one who teaches joy and self confidence and Children, instead of one who teaches Math and grammar and rules, Of course we cover those too but I believe a child with joy and confidence will love to explore and learn.

My Parents visiting

Once we moved to the coast, my parents came to visit every year, driving 1300 miles to get here. There are no direct routes between their home and mine and it is 400 miles further in the winter than in the summer due to the closure of some roads, like the road through Yellowstone Park.
I adopted their first grandchild 17 days before my brother’s wife gave birth to a daughter, and a year and a day later my second son was born. And a year and a half later my brother’s son. The grandparents loved being grandparents and came as often as they could, but they also loved the coastal redwoods area and enjoyed climbing on the rocks and exploring the forest paths.
When my boys were old enough to climb the rocks, Dad came one last time and raced them to the top of a huge sea stack, but had already had major cancer surgery and within two months would be unable to stand up from the couch where he would lay, in a somewhat strange state, suspended between being able to sleep or being able to stay awake.
If anything can be learned from my stories, I hope it is this – that no matter how long you have your loved ones, it is never long enough, so spend every moment you can, being aware how much you love them.

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