SOLC Day 22: I’m in Charge of Celebrations

slice-of-life_individual

March 2020 SOLC–Day 22
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

Have you ever read Byrd Baylor’s picture book, “I’m in Charge of Celebrations”? It’s a long-time favorite of mine. Baylor creates such beautiful images with her words and her book, with illustrations by Peter Parnall, is a love song to the desert, and to nature in general. It’s a book that exhorts you to not only recognize the beauty in your own life, but to actively celebrate it. The blurb on the back (which I’d never read before this morning) describes the book as a “radiant prose-poem.”

I videotaped myself reading part of this book to my students yesterday, and as I did so, I realized I’d had  a celebratory moment just that morning. I’ll share it here, using Baylor’s style as a mentor.

And
I was lucky
on Soaring Eagle Day
because I was there
for that one moment
when it happened.

I was walking
along the railroad tracks
that thread between
river and stream,
lost in serious conversation
on my phone,
bending down
talking softly,
fearful, concerned,
not paying
too much attention.

I looked up
in time to see
two eagles
perched in a nearby tree.
I ended my call,
readied my camera.

In that instant
Snap!
A branch broke.
An eagle
tumbled down.
One
two
seconds
falling,
falling.

Then, in that powerful way
that eagles have,
she thrust her wings
and righted herself,
lifting higher,
away from tree
and plummeting
branch.

I watched her soar,
like hope,
into blue skies,
then across the river,
with strong beating
wings.
Her companion
paused,
high in the tree,
then flew after her.

I watched them both
as they flew,
steady and true,
until
they were out of sight.
And the strange thing was
it made me feel better.

So now,
every year,
on March twenty-first,
I will celebrate
Soaring Eagle Day.

 

This past Friday, when I went back into school to grab a few things, this book was one of the first I chose. It struck me that we might need to focus on celebrations in the coming days.

A mere two days later, I feel this more than ever. I’m struggling to choose my walking companions. While worry and fear are eager to come along, I’m making way for joy and wonder and all the celebrations I can find.

39 thoughts on “SOLC Day 22: I’m in Charge of Celebrations

  1. Janet F. says:

    Always a favorite of mine. In a box somewhere though, I fear. But, your poem, the eagle soaring to hope, the track threading between river and stream, and she righted herself despite the snapping branch and her fall to earth. Reminds me of Mary Oliver. It’s a great way to remember this day in this time. I hope you write more of these. PS long ago I was lucky to meet then correspond with Peter Parnell a bit. Kind and talented man. Janet Clare F.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks so much, Janet. I knew I wanted to write about the moment, but hadn’t managed to find the right form. When I was reading Byrd Baylor, it just clicked. Of course! It’s a celebration. I suspect I will write more of these. How lucky you were to know Peter Parnall!

      Like

  2. lynnedorfman says:

    Your piece – a celebration called Soaring Eagle Day – was quite beautiful and tugged on my heartstrings. It is so appropriate in our present situation. You certainly made good use of your mentor text. You could have been in Byrd Baylor’s wonderful book. Do you have her collection? I have also written from/imitated Everybody Needs a Rock, The Best Town in the World, When Clay Sings, The Other Way to Listen, and The Way to Start a Day. There are so many. I am a big fan. Thanks for this beautiful post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I’ve always loved “Everybody Needs a Rock”! I have quite a few others, but have left them at school. I’m now wishing I’d brought them home for an impromptu author study.

      Like

  3. Debbie Lynn says:

    This is one of my favorite books also! We used to come up with our own ‘class celebration days’. How lucky for you to enjoy that Eagle Moment and you shared it in perfect ‘Byrd’ style!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this slice, from the mentor text by Byrd Baylor to your own mentor text. The eagle soaring like Hope really resonated. We need to celebrate these small moments more than ever before.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. margaretsmn says:

    Thanks for sharing a new-to-me mentor text. Your poem is amazing. Happy Soaring Eagle Day! I love how the short lines slow me down to enjoy each second watching with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. TLC says:

    Thank you for reminding me of an old favorite that- yes, is very relevant right now. You’ve also created a wonderful mentor text.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. aggiekesler says:

    I forgot about this book! Great mentor text for your poem.

    I felt this so much- “While worry and fear are eager to come along, I’m making way for joy and wonder and all the celebrations I can find.”

    Liked by 2 people

  8. dianeandlynne says:

    I love that book and I love what you did in your celebration poem. Soaring Eagle Day! Rich description–I love the line “I watched her soar like hope into blue skies.”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. paulabourque says:

    Wow, way to lean into this book and come away with such a beautiful and powerful poem of celebration. I needed to read this this morning!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Amy Warntz says:

    I’m in awe…just beautiful, Molly. Your post, your poem, it forced me to SLOW down and not just scroll, scroll, scroll. For this, I thank you, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, my, I love this. A wonderful mentor text and the writing it inspired! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. cvarsalona says:

    While I do not know this book, Molly, I am sure I would love it. Your poem is such a celebration of life and resilience. I am glad that you choose wisely who accompanies you on your walks.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This is so beautiful, and I loved following your thought journey. Discovering someone else who appreciates Byrd Baylor as I do is a lovely bonus.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Isn’t she wonderful? I thought I’d once read that she was married to Parnall, but I can’t find that anywhere, so I think I was mistaken. Do you know? Apparently she lives in Arizona and is now well into her 90s. I have quite a few of her books, but am going to see how many more I can find.

      Like

  14. Fran Haley says:

    That poem – you saw an eagle falling? It took my breath – I cannot imagine. The image of soaring to hope is exactly what’s needed now. “Radiant prose-poetry,” indeed. This is a real gift today – thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Fran—it was one of those “in the right place at the right time” moments and truly, I almost missed seeing the eagles entirely. I was so wrapped up in my worries, I forgot to notice what was around me. Another lesson I need reminding of!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. The book, the moment caught in poetry are so powerful and just like that eagle I want us to right ourselves in the fall. We have the strength.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Gail Aldous says:

    What a joy! I felt like I was there in Soaring Eagle Day and Coyote Day! Your students are fortunate to have you as a teacher sharing a wonderful book reminding them to go outside and celebrate nature. Are you going to share your poem with them? I think it would be a great idea. I think your poem would bring them joy and hope as it has done to your commenters. And, if it teaches your students to stop and observe the gift of nature, then you have given them a powerful tool to use now and in the future, a tool to make them feel better, also.

    I especially loved your line, “I watched her soar, like hope, into blue skies, across the river, with strong beating wings.” And, “the strange thing was it made me feel better.” Being in nature, or looking out my window to my backyard, always slows me down, to observe details, be absorbed in the moment, brainstorm, listen, smell the scents, feel the sun or wind, bring me peace and joy. Thank you for your beautiful words,
    Molly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thank you for such a thoughtful comment! I find such comfort in nature, and getting outside never fails to make me feel better. I am going to share this with my students today and invite them to write their own celebration poems. It’s so important to choose the lens with which we see the world.

      Like

  17. kd0602 says:

    I love this piece and I love Byrd Baylor and that book in particular. I only wish I had been there to celebrate Soaring Eagle Day! What an experience that must have been…and you described it so well I felt like I was there! “I watched her soar like hope…” Ah!

    Thanks for bringing the celebration to all of us!

    Kim

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I’ve always loved this book and have no idea why I didn’t think of using it as a mentor text before. I’m already considering other moments that could be framed this way. Luckily, I’ve experienced many of them!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Amanda Potts says:

    I’ve never even heard of this book before; thank you for introducing it to me. And what a wonderful mentor text. This is making me think of how I can talk about some of our recent explorations and discoveries. Hmm… Thanks for the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. […] for them, I realized that I had witnessed just such a moment earlier that day, so I wrote a poem,  Soaring Eagle Day, and shared it with them as another mentor. Then, I was inspired to revisit memories of a summer […]

    Like

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