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Showing posts from September, 2010

Skywatch Friday: Topsail Sunrise

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Wordless Wednesday: Poise

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There is no security on this earth, there is only opportunity.
(General Douglas MacArthur)


This stealthy hunter seemed not to notice me and Dell when we came upon him at Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, North Carolina, in August. I was actually focused on the moss draping itself from the trees when it dawned on me there was a bird in the frame--a bird who was so unlike his northern relation down the road from home, here, that he didn't mind the sound of the camera warming up because he did not scold me. He just stood there. I guess he was hungry enough to put up with a pair of tourists.
Wordless Wednesday

My World Tuesday: Harkness Memorial State Park

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Dell and I went to Harkness Memorial State Park in New London, Connecticut, on Saturday and spent more than three hours in the formal gardens and the rock garden, around the mansion (that closed for tours on September 12 until next spring), and along the water's edge. This beautiful mansion, built in 1907, sits on 200 acres and rolls right into Long Island Sound.  It was once a working farm. Edward and Mary Harkness were philanthopists who were very generous with the money Edward had inherited from his father--a harness maker who had wisely invested in Standard Oil when that was a new idea.
Dell and I stretched out on the lawn after lunch and watched the butterflies flitting about the cosmos, lavender, zinnias, dahlias, butterfly bushes, and countless other incredibly gorgeous flowers. Bucolic beauty, peace, quiet, and a bit of the Sound-tamed Atlantic on a breezy, sunny September day. Nothing better!

This part of Connecticut is saturated with the good stuff: Ocean Beach Park, the S…

Today's Flowers: Over Your Shoulder, the Light

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One Single Impression: Monument

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Monument

As in memory

As in hold on

As in wait a minute.

This is important. Stop everything.
Look. At. Me.

OK I will what have you got?

You, stranger.

One day you stop and talk
One day I stop and listen

And again and again
Now and again

It is pleasant. Happy. Enough.

And that is everything
And all there is:
No history or future
Only that space in between

You feel the sun on your back.
I feel it on my face.
We hear the surf.
Feel the sand. Shift.
Grow used to morning
Amid pelicans and helicopters
And sensible babies who cry in fear
Of the enormous surf
We hear.

You and I are a part of the landscape,
And landscapes change.

The beach, though.
It will be here.
We will return.
We will walk.
We will run.


One Single Impression

Skywatch Friday: Up Early on North Topsail Beach

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Last weekend, I put several hours into creating my summer photo albums on Winkflash.com (a super place for prints, albums, you name it). This was one of those tasks I put off for a few weeks because revisiting Topsail Island in thought rather than in person is up there on the Pleasures list with ripping my skin off or drinking gasoline and setting myself on fire. As I placed image after image into an album, I wondered how I left and why and, better, how not to do that again. Surely, there must be one teaching position open that this carpetbagger could fill....Anyway. Here is North Topsail Beach on one of those mornings I awoke and stepped out early. Rain came and went. The day was beautiful. Summer on the beach has a lot in common with middle school life. You learn to roll, you learn to love, you learn to let go. You learn to love the basic truth that nothing is forever. It's all so very good.
Skywatch Friday

Wordless Wednesday: Spider Web

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My World Tuesday: Wings of Freedom

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My daughter and I stopped at the Wings of Freedom display at the Waterbury-Oxford Airport last Saturday. There we saw some WWII-era planes and had the privilege of hearing some veterans of that war talk about their experiences. The men talked about stripping off the paint from the planes to lighten the load, fighting from the air while the planes' contrails would announce their exact location, landing with the nose straight up all the way down the runway (a no-no), and bailing. The men in the gunners' turrets would be so stiff, the other men in the plane would have to lift them from under the arms and help him straighten out his legs before jumping. The men were in uniform, proud of their service, and crystal-clear in their recollections. They told the many children there that anything is possible, and making it possible begins with going to school and listening to teachers--even when their cranky. 
My World Tuesday

Today's Flowers: Wild and Free Just Beyond School

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Here are a few wildflowers that were sunning themselves in Waterbury on Friday afternoon, which was a sunny, gorgeous almost-really-autumn day.

Today's Flowers

One Single Impression: Joie de Vivre

"For  you,"
He says.

He is "Five,"
The special ed. kid
Who learned this summer
To count by fives

And does so
With the joy
Most of us save for the moment
We eat our favorite ice cream.

For me:
A maple leaf
Turning red

Weeks before I'd expect it to.

But here we are on the sidewalk
Because some kid
Tried to set the school on fire
For the second day in a row

And there's just nothing to do
Out here right now.

"Look at it under a microscope.
"You see every cell. It is alive,"
He tells me.

"Have you done that?"

"No," he says.
"I don't need to.
"My teacher told me."

Oh.
"Thank you. It is beautiful,"
I smile.

"I know."
And the last word:

"I gave it to you."

It is alive.

So it went last week. A developmentally disabled child who learned to count by fives this summer introduced himself to me by making a gift to me of a maple leaf. The trust and confidence of this child stole my heart--a…

Skywatch Friday: Heaven Has a T in It

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Here is where I am in love and happy. With everything.
Skywatch Friday

Blog Your Blessings: I Lied to a Child, but Batman Said it was OK

Yesterday our sixth-grade students watched a National Geographic documentary about 9/11. They heard survivors' accounts of what it was like to be in the Twin Towers, what the widows of the men on Flight 93 heard as their husbands took over their hijacked plane, what it was like to be lifted out of the wreckage of the Pentagon. They heard a fire fighter talk about hearing the bodies of men and women hit the ground one after the other--the thud, the silence, the thud, the silence--after they had lept from the inferno. They heard the chirping of the location devices of so many fire fighters stuck under the rubble after the towers collapsed. Like crickets crying under the weight and shadow of a strange nuclear winter. 

These boys and girls were babies on that horrible day. They could only imagine.
Back in the classroom, my students debriefed themselves by offering their thoughts on what they saw.  Batman said, "Miss, I really, really hate Osama bin Laden."
Batman is Muslim; I s…

Wordless Wednesday: Blew Out Your Flip-Flop?

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The singular flip-flop, like the forgotten umbrella on a rainy day or the abandoned winter coat in January, always leaves me wondering. How and why? I imagine some poor soul hopping all the way to the car? It's an image that makes me smile.

Wordless Wednesday

My World Tuesday: The Bethlehem Fair

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I took my daughter and her friend to the Bethlehem Fair, an annual agricultural fair in the next town, on Friday evening.


The girls were more interested in the bazaar end of things, so we saw a lot of this:




and very little of that.


Girls are girls are girls! Trailing behind, I got a glimpse of a few other things that looked interesting--and will very likely be there next year, so I'll try again then.







My World Tuesday

Today's Flowers: One Among Many

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These are blooming by the score along the road at the bottom of the hill. (I am hoping Digital Flowers will stop by with the name!) They are beautiful, and they endure. These blossoms survived our bizarre little blast furnace of a heat wave two weeks ago, and they thrived through last week's cool spell. (Welcome to New England, where we promise nothing if not incontinuity in the weather. We call it being flexible. It means you never put your clothes away at the end of a season. As soon as you do, you find you need them.)


Walking along, I found I had to photograph this not-so-subtle reminder that nothing lasts forever. Oh well. Right now is more than enough. Make a wish and blow the fuzz away--and walk on!
Today's Flowers

One Single Impression: Passing

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"The leaves are turning,"
Says a voice from home.
"And the nights are cool."

From seven hundred miles away

I feel the cool
And take the turn
In the sand

In the long light

Of the late August sun
Reaching across the beach
Like the open arms

Of a gracious
Love.

There is
No rush to come or go,
To make even the slightest
Move.

Enough to know
The gesture,
The look,

And how it feels to be

Alive and well
And in love,

Open
To the open arms
Of the continuous present.

We are here.

One Single Impression

In a Moment, Silence.

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Blog Your Blessings: Batman Speaks of Ramadan

Recently I read an op-ed piece in the News-Times of Danbury, Connecticut, about education in Connecticut that pointed out that the education gap between rich and poor in Connecticut has not changed over the past 30 years despite the billions of dollars that have been spent on closing this gap. The writer of the column, a newpaper editor from somewhere East of the River, blamed the parents of inner-city (read: poor) children for the problem. They are single parents bereft of the values that forge decent, thinking citizens from the raw flesh of reckless passion. Oh, those nasty poor people and their violence and crime and illicit sex and drugs....
It's so easy to blame the poor people. It's also easy to forget that the best drugs around are to be had in the upscale suburban schools. I'm thinking of Pomperaugh High School in Southbury and Newtown High School. But it's rude to drop names. So let's just say the best drugs are in the best schools. And the violence in scho…

Skywatch Friday: A Liquid Silver Topsail Morning

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Blog Your Blessings: A New Addition to my Family

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Things happen after a glass of wine at the end of a long and rewardingly tiring day. Things you just don't regret next day when the light of dawn nudges you awake.
One of those things happened the other night, when I grew our family by one.
His name is Lennie.
He lives on Topsail Island.
He's never said a word to me, but I love him all the same--so much that I have made him a part of my family. Like I said.
The picture is now happily complete: we have a turtle in our clan. A Kemp's ridley sea turtle, to be exact.
Lennie is a permanent resident of the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on Topsail because he is blind. He is blind because a fisherman who found the turtle in his net beat this endangered little guy about the head, destroying sight for Lennie.
Why would anybody do that?
The turtle hospital needs resources to continue its work, so Della and I made a donation toward Lennie's needs to keep him going a while longer. He's family now, so we&#…

Wordless Wednesday: Late August Evening, Topsail Island and the Tide's Out

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My World Tuesday: Looking Back on Topsail and Turtles

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This is the view North on North Topsail Beach around 7:30 p.m. on August 18, when I was there and a little loggerhead turtle emerged from one of many protected nests along the dunes.
This woman is a volunteer from the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on Topsail Island. She was there for that singular loggerhead. She protected him from predators, including the well-intentioned children prancing about and climbing around the nest.



This woman also counted the number of shells of hatched turtles. There were more than 100. Below is one of the seven that didn't hatch. She dug another hole for them to give them another chance. She put the broken shells back in the original nest.



She kept the lone hatchling in a 5-gallon bucket until she helped him make the journey into the Atlantic. After that, the sky darkened to black and heavy rain fell as I made my way home.
The time and effort that goes into looking after these turtles is amazing. There are a lot of big hearts …

Today's Flowers: Late Summer Rose

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This rose was soaking up the sunshine outside my parents' home last weekend. It seems there's always a rose blooming somewhere at my parents. It's a magical thing in a magical place.

Today's Flowers

Blog Your Blessings: Tell me how You're Like That Turtle

The first week of school for my classes was about building a sense of community, a place where every child is an interesting human being with a right and an obligation to learn. As my kids were becoming familiar with the class, I had them work in groups of three at the computers to get them used to working together as well as to get them near the computers. 
I told them how much I like turtles and how I spend my vacation on an island that is a turtle sanctuary. There, many people volunteer to ensure that turtes make it from the nest to the ocean without interference from predators (including noisy, happy people who mean no harm but known no better). I told them that the turtles imprint the places they hatch so that when the females are ready to lay eggs around the age of 20, they come all the way home, lay their eggs, and go off again. Knowing home is part of survival. I told them the turtles are such a big deal on Topsail that on many a night during hatching season, there are at least…

One Single Impression: Choices

My choices are simple

I awaken to the sound
Of my breathing
And rise to

The song of the birds.

I step in time with the beat
Of my heart

Into sunlight.

Beside me:
Wildflowers
Engaged in the ritual
Of waking to the light
Moving with light
Growing with light

To become the color
And perfume
Of here and now.

Birds sing.
Birds fly.

I breathe.
I walk.

It is all breath and pulse,

All choice.

One Single Impression

Skywatch Friday: Another Topsail Morning

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Here is yet another Topsail morning when I was too late to be on the beach to see and capture that moment when the sun first presents herself to the day. Instead, I was at the bridge on Osprey Drive that spans the Intracoastal Waterway and leads to the beach. I looked at the sun and thought, "Damn, you're big. And relentless." The morning was misty and quiet when I got to the bridge. It wasn't so buggy that I couldn't get the camera out. And it was beautiful. I remember standing there and thinking of how very beautiful the world is, even when you oversleep by just a little. The thing is to get up, to open your eyes, and to love what you see from wherever you see it.
Skywatch Friday