SOLC 2019 Day 23: March

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March 2019 SOLC–Day 23
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

In Maine, March is a bit of an endurance contest.

By March
the snow only whispers
of its prior glory
it’s arrival as hypnotic drifting flakes
is but a dim memory
leached into its present incarnation
styrofoam snow
pale, stale
far from its origin
tenaciously clinging
to winter

©Molly Hogan, 2019

Friday morning’s snowfall refreshes the stale snow, beautiful and simultaneously depressing.

 

 

SOLC 2019 Day 22: Interesting Times

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March 2019 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

“Good morning,” I say as the desk clerk motors by, clearly rushed and heading back to his post.

“Good morning,” he replies. Then continuing past, he mutters at me, “I live in interesting times.”

My eyebrows raise, but I don’t respond. This is a man on a mission, with no time for small talk. He putters about the desk, grabs a few things and flies back down the stairs. I imagine he must also be setting up the breakfast area.

When we spend the night in hotels, I often find myself spending early morning hours in the lobby. I’ve learned that I enjoy my mornings more if I’m not trying to write on the bathroom floor to avoid disturbing whoever’s traveling with me. Usually that person prefers to sleep past 4:30 am, so I slip out of the room, notebook and laptop in hand, and head to the lobby. It’s typically quiet and peaceful, and I enjoy writing in a new place.

Suddenly, a man pops through the door from the long hallway leading to the hotel rooms.

“Do you know where the man is?” he asks.

His hair is close shaven and he’s small and wiry, wearing an athletic jersey emblazoned with Fleury 29.  He pushes through the door into the lobby, a bundle of energy. If he were a dog, his tail would be wagging and he’d be doing that whole body “Oh!!!  A human friend is here!!!” wiggle.

I assume he’s talking about the desk clerk.

“I think he’s downstairs getting breakfast ready,” I reply.

“Oh, ” he said, looking around and then looking at me again. “What do you do around here?”

“Oh, I don’t work here. I’m a teacher, but down south in Durham.”

“What grade do you teach?” he asks.

“Fourth.”

“Fourth grade?”

I nod.

“I was a crazy student,” he says.

Really? Somehow I’m not too surprised.

I open my mouth to respond, but Fleury 29 continues.

You know Ritalin these days? Well, my teachers didn’t  know what to do with me. They used to have me walk around the room on my hands. Again and again and again.”

Ummmmm….

“Then, I moved to Ethiopia because of allergies.”

What?! Ethiopia? Allergies? What?

“You got time? ” he continues. ” I got stories. I would have been the most interesting student you ever had!”

The desk clerk emerges from downstairs, and Fleury rapidly turns and asks him for a broom and mop, then launches into some convoluted explanation about why he needs these in his room. I’m still envisioning those handstands and trying to figure out the relationship between allergies and Ethiopia, so I only catch their conversation in bits and pieces. This is a man who needs a pause button. 

The desk clerk sets off to get the requested items, assuring Fleury he’d bring them to his room shortly.

“Take your time. Don’t run,” he replies.

“I kind of have, too,” the clerk mutters under his voice, rushing off.

“See you later!” Fleury says to me and heads off, gone as rapidly as he’d appeared, presumably to return to his room.

The clerk reappears a few minutes later.

“Sorry if he was bothering you,” he says, gesturing to the door through which Fleury had exited.

“Oh, no,” I say. “He was fine.”

“He’s part of my interesting times,” he says with feeling.

Later, at breakfast I see Fleury again.

“Fourth grade, right?” he calls across the room.

“Yes.” I smile and nod.

“I could tell you stories!”  he repeats, then continues. “I got a lot of scholarships. My neighbors helped me out, because they used to watch me doing backflips and half gainers out of my mom’s second story window into the snow banks.”

What? Scholarships and half gainers into snowbanks? I can’t really figure this one out either. It is as mystifying as Ethiopia and allergies!

“You teachers,” he says. “You do a lot.” He pauses. “Thanks. I know it’s not easy.”

I start to respond, but he is off on another story. I just listen and nod, smiling, thoroughly enjoying myself.

I suspect that this is a man who always lives in interesting times.

 

 

 

SOLC 2019 Day 21 and PF: Jabberwocky

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March 2019 SOLC–Day 21
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

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This post is a dual post for the Slice of Life challenge and the Poetry Friday Roundup. This week’s Roundup is hosted by Rebecca Herzog at Sloth Reads. Although I hadn’t been aware that she’d invited participants to celebrate National Goof Off Day this week, serendipity was at hand. What could be more wonderfully fun and goofy than “Jabberwocky”, the word romping poem central to my post?
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Illustration by John Tenniel

Jabberwocky
by Lewis Carroll 
“’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe. ”

Last night we drove a few towns north to watch our youngest daughter sing with the University of Maine Singers during their spring concert tour. The Singers always end their concerts with a rousing rendition of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky, accompanying the lyrics with overblown theatrics. They cavort on stage, miming snapping jaws, dramatically pulling vorpal swords, etc.

“…’Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!’

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought-
So rested he by the Tumtum tree..”

Last night when they reached that last line, chorus members mocked fatigue. Some yawned, others slumped against their singing companions. My daughter, Lydia, took her two fists and rubbed them against her eyes, ducking her head down…and just like that I hurtled back through the years.

In an instant my 21 year old daughter was transformed so vividly in my mind to her long-ago sleepy toddler self. It was like a physical blow. A jolt. I was momentarily lifted from the present and thrust into the past, swamped with a sensation of nostalgia and loss. I remembered her heavy weight in my arms as I’d carry her up to bed, her head resting on my shoulder. I’d always softly sing to her “Good night, sweet heart…” as I climbed the stairs, and even though she was almost asleep, her small hand always patted my back, soothingly. It was the sweetest thing…

And then, just like that, I was back in the present, in the auditorium, listening to Lydia and the UMaine Singers finish up their romping version of Jabberwocky. I watched them burble, galumph and chortle…feeling a bit disoriented…memories of the past reconnecting to the reality of this present.

After the performance I hugged Lydia extra tight.

My baby girl.

 

 

SOLC 2019 Day 20: “Killed with Delight”

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March 2019 SOLC–Day 20
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

As I drove to work yesterday, my mind whirled with to-do lists and the last minute adjustments I needed to make to grades and comments. I kept losing my place in my audio book and was thankful that it was one I’d already read, so I could maintain a tenuous grip on the thread of the story. Preoccupied with my thoughts, I turned into the drive that leads to the school parking lot.

Then I stopped. Literally. My mind stopped swirling and I stopped the car. In the middle of the drive. Heedless of cars that might be behind me. (Luckily, there were none.)

There in front of me was a stream of steam flowing from a pipe in the roof of the school. Behind it was the sun, just cresting the horizon. The two combined to create the most beautiful smoky light extravaganza. I don’t think the picture does it justice, but the moment and the image remain clear in my mind. Sunlit roiling steam. Beauty in the ordinary…perhaps even beauty in the ugly. 

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My thoughts turned to Mary Oliver and her insistence on being mindful of the potential for joy and delight that surrounds us within the ordinary. I typically associate her words with nature, but in this instance, it was a combination of man and nature that moved me. 

After taking a few photos, I pulled into the parking lot. My chaotic thoughts seemed less turbulent now. Instead of feeling rushed, I felt grateful to have been pulled out of my introspective fugue and into the wonders of the world. Grateful to have been “killed with delight.”

Mindful
by Mary Oliver

Every day
I see or hear
something
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.

…..

Click here to read the entire poem.

SOLC 2019 Day 19: An Annoying…Habit?

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March 2019 SOLC–Day 19
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

Somewhere along the way, I’ve developed an incredibly annoying….habit? I’m not sure what to call it really. Usually, getting up in the morning isn’t an issue for me. But on those days when I’m exhausted and my morning alarm rouses me to groggy resentment, I lie in bed for a bit, knowing I really need to get up. That’s when it happens. If I lie there long enough, inevitably, the Mexican hat dance starts dancing through my mind. I’ve even added lyrics. They’re not creative, but they are apt. And annoying. I’ve linked in the tune in case you don’t know it, so you can sing along if you’d like…

Get up! Get up! Get up!
Get u-up! Get up! Get up!
Get up! Get up! Get up!
Get u-up! Get up! Get up!

You get the idea. Now repeat this ad nauseam. Yup. That’s what I do, too. Fun, right?

Like I said, I have no idea why I do this, but it happens again and again. In sheer self-defense, I inevitably get up. It may be an annoying habit, but it’s definitely effective!

SOLC 2019 Day 18: An Eagle in the Fog

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March 2019 SOLC–Day 18
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

Saturday arrived, blanketed in thick fog. Outside the window, everything was altered, softened by the atmosphere. I could have held out against a sunrise, but this lure was irresistible. After some minimal internal struggle, I tossed my grading intentions to the side, and stepped out the door, camera in hand. The world was transformed. Eerie. Timeless. Beautiful. .

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After wandering around at home, captivated by the altered scenery, I got into my car to head down to the river. As I drove down the hill into town, the fog got thicker and thicker. I hunched forward over my steering wheel, peering into the gray mist. Hmmmm…maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. I strained to see the road, slowing down to a crawl. The weather worn center line was barely visible. The edges of the road had vanished. I was isolated in a pool of light, focusing on the little that was visible about  me. I slowed almost to a stop and began to wonder how and where I might turn around. Just as I was about to retreat, the fog lifted ever so slightly. I continued slowly, carefully finding my way down to the waterside.

As I finally pulled into the parking lot, a movement off to the side caught my eye. I looked up quickly and saw a bald eagle flying in from my left. It glided in low and steady, maybe ten feet in front of my car’s windshield. Oh! The words “totem animal” flashed into my mind. What did a visit from an eagle mean? I see the eagle often, but not like this– So close. So majestic. For a brief moment, we were together in the fog, the world obscured around us.

I took it as a sign. Clearly, I was where I needed to be.

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Later I looked up the meaning of eagles. “…the Eagle is a powerful animal totem that offers lessons about looking closely at the most minute of details in order to see life from a broader perspective. When this graceful hunter comes into your life, it’s time to look inward with a careful eye. (http://www.spiritanimal.info/eagle-spirit-animal/) How fitting that this eagle visited me on a day when fog obscured the wider view and focused my attention on the little that was visible.

SOLC 2019 Day 17: Late Winter Walk

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March 2019 SOLC–Day 17
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

Sometimes when I’m hungry, I just can’t figure out what I want to eat. Even with lots of options, nothing sounds particularly good. Kurt and I run into a similar problem when we try to figure out where to walk, especially in the winter. We know we want to get outside, but can’t figure out where to go. Other than the beach, at this time of year, a walkable path is not a given thing. We’ve had snow, thaws, refreezing, etc. which can lead to slippery, uncomfortable and even dangerous walking paths. Sometimes our constant debate paralyzes us, and we end up going nowhere.

“You want to go take a walk somewhere today?”
“Sure.”
“Where should we go?”
“I don’t know. Do you feel like going to the beach?”
“Is it windy? When’s high tide?”
“Do you think the trails would be ok at Vaughan Woods?”
“What do you think about that railroad path up in Augusta?”

We circle around and around and other than agreeing we want to go, we get nowhere. Literally and figuratively.

Last Saturday the sun was shining and the temperatures were rising and we were once again debating the merits of various places. Beach? Woods? Somewhere new? It was starting to feel like that old familiar “go nowhere” pattern. Then inspiration struck!

“Wait! I  know!” I said, “Why don’t we check out the Eastern Trail down in Scarborough? Remember, it’s the one that goes through the marsh. We saw it from the Audubon Center last year.”

Amazingly, it sounded just right to both of us, and we quickly motivated, organized and departed.

About forty-five minutes later we arrived and stepped out of our car into the parking lot. Immediately, we knew we’d made a good choice. The path ahead of us had been built on an old railway bed. It was slightly snowy, but easily traversable. On either side of it, the marsh stretched into the distance in its striated monochromatic late winter wonder. Geese swam in patches of open water and ducks took off and landed with regularity. Crows and seagulls flew overhead. The trail was open to the blue skies and the sun was like a soft caress on our cheeks, so welcome after weeks of bitter, biting cold.

“Oh, this is perfect!” we agreed, and off we walked, thoroughly delighted with our choice and the sunny, warm-ish day. Happy to be outside, watching the birds, and going somewhere, together.

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Beautiful blue skies and wait! Are those buds!?!

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