Sprung

25 03 2009

Springtime is a teacher’s nightmare. The kids and I are currently engaged in a riveting unit that involves standardized testing and the systematic banging of our heads against the cement block walls that keep us from fresh cool spring air and delicious temps that, in Alabama, are fleeting. My solution to the bitterness that testing hath wrought? Practice testing with Blow Pops. Class time currently consists of bleary-eyed students (who, in recent weeks, have taken on a scary resemblance of actual sloths) taking practice tests for 30 minutes. At the end of 30 minutes, we stand up to stretch and then review the answers. Students are rewarded with Blow Pops, which I deliver using an underhanded pitch. As a fifth-year veteran teacher, I have come up with no greater reward for my students than time outside and/or candy. Despite the fact that public education deems sugar unsuitable for its students, I believe that sugar goes hand-in-hand with learning. Personally, I cannot endure any amount of studying without a bag of sweet tarts and Hershey Kisses.

Me, on a Sunday afternoon, tending to the garden in my best frock.

A first-class gardening gentlewoman bearing the fruits of her labor with a waist that would surely snap were she to exist in real life.

Along with standardized testing, spring also marks my annual yard analysis. Prognosis: not good. Both yards will not grow grass, and I, lacking even a green fingernail, can barely remember to water the pitiful fern that lives above the kitchen sink. This year, I am determined to make something of my nothing of a yard. I look across the street with longing each day. There, the grass grows thick and the young man who inhabit the right side of the brown stone duplex planted (successfully) tulips that have turned up beautifully. Meanwhile, I have three arbitrarily placed rose bushes that spike from the ground with their stubborn, stark thorns.

I’m writing this in hopes that someone, some gentle green reader, will be able to offer advice. I would like to put a flower box in Ruthie’s window where the yard gets sun from about 11:00 on. I’d also like to plant some kind of bush-ish thing beneath the window to cover the immense space between the dirt and the window (we have a crawl-space). Then, I want to plant GRASS. The problem with grass? Half the yard gets sun, half does not (I’ve got a magnolia tree). Lastly, there’s a little bitty square garden where my driveway intersects with the sidewalk and it gets nearly-full sun. I want to plant some cute flowers there as well. So, friends, please, please, PLEASE! tell me what to plant. What kind of grass? What kind of flowers? I prefer flowers and grass that will not die, but I know this might be over-reaching. Any suggestions would be welcome.





And now for something completely different…

15 04 2008

On this, my second day of Spring Break, I found myself in a situation that made me remember the very best version of myself in college. I was driving down Dean Ave with the windows down––it’s in the 50’s today in Auburn–and Jack Johnson blaring on my stereo (tracks 8 and 13 on his new album). I called one of my dearies from college who used to copilot with me on such outings that generally led to country drives way out Moore’s Mill Rd. and at least a half a pack of cigarettes on my end. Jack Johnson will always be the musical score to my Springtime.

As a result of my finally springing into Spring, I have begun my Spring shopping. For you, my friends, I have developed the Spring Enjoyment List––it might be better than the O List, but sadly, as I am an educator with a two year old, I cannot afford to give any freebies away. Instead, I will direct you to the websites where you might purchase them for yourself if you so choose.

10. Gardening gear

9. Timeless tumblers for a toddy or a sweet tea on the front porch

8. Pajama pants that you can be seen wearing in public

7. New place mats to brighten up our kitchen/dining room

6. A Corona with lime

5. A Springy wallet that doubles as a purse in Wasabi.

4. Jack Johnson: Sleep Through the Static

3. Nanette Lepore sling backs (These are still on my wish list, but they are oh-so beautiful!)

2. Votivo candle in Honeysuckle

1. New nail polish (and a pedicure to boot!)

Add to this list a brilliant novel that you’ve been putting off until you have “more time” (mine: The Amber Spyglass and The Year of Magical Thinking), a new handbag (preferably the one by Marc Jacobs that I was eyeing last weekend), and some fresh fruit, and you’re set to go.





in just–

24 03 2008

img_0028.jpg

When I was in high school, we didn’t read any of the kinds of poems that I use in my own classroom. Now that I’m working with the amazing and talented Emma Bolden in the Art of Writing Club, I’m learning that my secondary English education was sub-par at best with regard to poetry. The only poem that I can really remember from high school is “Two Roads Diverged in a Wood” by Robert Frost. I’m pretty sure that we had to memorize it. I learned more poems in French than English. So now that Emma and I are collaborating on this project, I have been drinking poems each week, amazed and appalled by my lacking knowledge of this world of words painting other worlds with their sounds, their shapes, and their strange new meanings.

When I started teaching high school English, e.e. cummings soon became my favorite poet. His beautiful invention never ceases to fill me with a sense of awe. I simply relish the following poem, which captures the day that I spent with Ruthie collecting all of the flowers that have bloomed within a 2-mile radius of our house. By the time we were finished, she was covered in fresh cut blooms. Her favorite was the big pink one with pollen in the middle. She kept pointing at it with a serious countenance, warning me: “Make you sneeze, Mommy.”

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window, into which people look (while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here) and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and from moving New and
Old things, while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there) and

without breaking anything

e.e. cummings