We were gathered around the fire pit. My dad (90 years old) and his wife on one side, and my husband, daughter and me on the other. With the warmer than usual temperatures this fall, we’ve been able to spend a lot of time with my dad outside and at a safe distance.
We were bundled up, sipping our tea, and chatting about art, music, and the latest news surrounding the coronavirus and politics, when suddenly a large owl flew behind my dad and up into a nearby tree. We grabbed the binoculars and studied the winged beauty perched up high on a branch. He stared back, his round yellow eyes looking quizzically at the circle of humans gathered around a fire.
We went back to our talking and tea sipping.
A few minutes later, we were startled by a loud hoot and two owls flew gracefully and silently out of the tree, behind my dad, and into the woods.
I am working on the computer (trying to think of what to write about for my weekly blog post) when I hear a muffled noise coming up through the floorboards near my feet. There is music playing. I hear my daughter’s voice. She is teaching a lesson. She explains something, then talks through a demonstration, and then is quiet for a bit (I imagine her watching her student on the other side of the screen.). The music stops and I hear Morgan share a few tips for how her student can make her work even better. As I keep listening, the cycle repeats, over and over again; explain, demonstrate, observe, give feedback.
My daughter is in the basement teaching her weekly dance lesson. She is teaching my granddaughter (her niece). My granddaughter lives in Nashville and we are in Connecticut, so this weekly dance lesson has become a pretty special bonding experience for both girls, as dancers and as relatives.
I lean closer to the floor to see if I can make out what’s going on in this lesson.
“That’s it. You’re really getting the idea. Try it again. Try it like this. Watch me. Now you try. Better….so much better. Do you feel the way the arm crossed over your body that time? That’s what you want. Let’s try it again.”
Then there’s always a check in,
“How are you doing? You OK? Any questions? Do you want to grab some water?”
Then it’s back to work. There’s not much down time in this lesson. Morgan changes the music. They try something else. Morgan is clear and direct, but at the same time nurturing and encouraging. They go on like this for an hour. The cadence of the conversation going back and forth. Teacher to student. Student to teacher.
There is music, teaching, learning, and some beautiful laughter coming up through my floor tonight. Morgan; daughter, dancer and now teacher.
My first graders are currently writing How-To books. They are teaching their readers how to surf a wave, carve a pumpkin, catch a snake (!), make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and draw a fox, bunny, or kitty. One of my students decided to write about how to make a friend. Her piece goes like this:
How to Make a Friend.
First, find a friend.
Then say hi.
Then play with your friend.
Now you are friends.
I know this piece probably needs a better introduction and some elaboration, but there is something about it that just feels perfect.
One of my wonderful TWT colleagues suggested writing a gratiku – a mash up of a haiku and a gratitude entry. What a great idea at a time when we have such a need for gratitude, but so little time to think and write and share. I thought I would give it a try, especially on this Election Day, 2020.
Grateful to Be An American Today
A chance to cast my one vote
Now I sit and hope.