A Garden I Know, and One I Will Learn

A Garden I Know, and One I Will Learn

The school down the road has a garden that I know well.  There, in the butterfly garden, are plants picked by former students and some selected by me, some were donated by parents or staff, and many were purchased.  In the center is a large,  overgrown, lilac bush. It serves as a shelter for butterflies that might need to get out of the rain or wind during the time they spend visiting our school and yards in the milder months of the year. There is common milkweed and whorled milkweed, planted some years ago, to fulfill the necessary criteria to be certified a Monarch Way Station.  The purple milkweed has disappeared, but was planted with the rest in 2006. There is a sign that tells students, visitors, and families that monarchs are welcomed in this garden. The sign, from Monarch Watch, tells a story of caring humans – students and adults – who lovingly provided this habitat for the Monarch Butterfly on these school grounds since 2008.

Currently, the garden contains mostly perennial plants including Yarrow, Black-eyed Susan’s, Purple Coneflowers, day lilies, hosta, and milkweed. Last May, just as the twelve years before, we planted petunias, marigolds, and Gaillardia for instant color, just before the school year ended.

There are worms in the soil that we used for our earthworm unit experiments and then, released in the bed to help nourish the soil.  Every spring there is a return some lily of the valley, so hard to remove. I know, I tried every year.

I remember some years we planted New England Asters in the fall for color, but they never survived the winter sidewalk plowing.  And, other varieties of butterfly favorites were planted in springs’ past such as zinnias and Shasta daisies. The lilac bush was pruned, if we remembered to do it at the right time of year.

Yes, I know this garden well. I have records of its growth through diagrams, grant and certification applications, and many, many photographs that span more than a decade of care.  There was even a newspaper article or two over the years, to preserve the time and tell the story of the garden at Evergreen.  I know the little things, the things about the garden and its history that only those involved would have knowledge of and be able to share. I remember the compliments, and the silence. So many are the memories!

Solemnly, I remember the boy whose memorial stone lies near a corner marking his enthusiasm and participation in garden club before he became ill and passed from this world into the next.  I remember yelling at a family who rode their bikes – all five of them – parents included, through the garden bed, just after we planted it. I remember the high school students and other parents who came to help us make all our projects a success.  I remember looking for worms, caterpillars, chrysali, and milkweed as early signs of the changing seasons. I recall making 25 bluebird houses, one with each club member, so many years ago!

But, today, I will be introduced to a new garden bed, at a new school. It is larger, more complex, and in truth, somewhat intimidating to think about. Yet, I expect to find some great similarities. I know the new garden is also a Monarch Way Station! I know the  garden, new to me, has been cared for by the same women for almost as long as I cared for the one at the school down the road.  I know how they feel about “their” garden, even before I meet them.  Believe me, I know.  I know I have to drive 9.5 additional miles to reach the garden now.  I know there is a shed full of garden equipment ready to be used. I know that the young school-aged children want to be in the garden. I know that the school wants the garden to be tended, and lovingly cared for by a dedicated advisor. I know, right now, I feel welcomed and wanted – just as I did in the early years in the garden at Evergreen.

However, I do not know the garden yet. Knowing the garden takes time. I will meet with the previous caretakers. I will learn the plants they selected. I will promise to care for them as seriously as if I selected the plants myself. I will let me knowledge of a garden I cared for and built, sustain me as I become a newbie, once again. I will plant this garden with the promise of hope, and seeds of stewardship, just as I did the garden I knew before. Today, I will learn a new garden.

This blog is part of the Slice of Life Tuesdays sponsored by TwoWritingTeachers.org. Thank you for the opportunity to be part of a wonderfully supportive writing community!

Soccer Socks

Soccer Socks

Found on the floor,

under the bed,

& in the laundry


Stinky & stiff,

inside out,


sometimes torn or 

pocked with holes.

Balled up,

One inside

the other.

Maroon or White,

for games home or away.

Black and Blue,

not bruises,

but more socks

for practice, practice,

and more practice.

I tell my player,

“Turn them right side out.

They stink,

those soccer socks of yours.”



To Prefer or Not to Prefer

To Prefer or Not to Prefer

“What do you prefer,” the waiter asked? It was early, too early, to make any decisions, even about juice. “Would you like our special mix of Orange, Mango, Pineapple, or just Orange? Both were freshly made this morning.”

“Oh, I’ll take the mix – why not?” I told the waiter.

His reply came back in a crisp British accent that matched the crisply pressed, khaki Bermuda shorts and knee socks he so elegantly sported, “Very good, Miss.” He poured, the vibrantly orange mix of juices into the sparkling, spotless goblet that sat at my place on the table.

Miss! Miss, I thought to myself! Now, I hadn’t heard that one in a long time! My crow’s feet and spider veins, now visible on my legs, were sure signs I was old enough to be a “Mam” instead of a “Miss!” But, I will take it today – even though I am not sure which salutation I would prefer, Mam or Miss. Today, I’ll be a Miss, I thought to myself as I gave the waiter a vapid smile.

Left alone to eat my breakfast, I contemplated my day. What would I like to do? What would I prefer? The beach or pool? The sand or the cement? The sun or shade? So many decisions based on preference.  It was my choice to come here – Bermuda. Due to schedules, I decided to come two days before my husband this time. Before, on our three previous trips, we had always arrived together.

So, the next two days are mine. The decisions I make will be based on my preference due to not deferring to the preference of my partner. Sitting alone and eating my breakfast, while looking out the clear turquoise surf, gently lapping the shore, I wondered if I would enjoy making all the choices based on my preferences. Somehow, I wasn’t sure.

First, I thought I would walk on the beach. Although I prefer not to exercise, I do like to walk and I do like the beach. So, a walk on the beach would be good. The beaches on Bermuda are some of the most beautiful in the world, in my opinion. A pink hue emanates from the soft sand, free of shells and sea plant debris, on the wide expanse of the coral lined shore. The beach would be great. I prefer the beach, I said to myself, making a game of it.


Photographs. I love to take photos on vacation. I prefer landscapes, sunsets, and flowers as opposed to people, street scenes, and food. The afternoon was spent traveling to St. George on the water ferry because I prefer that to the bus on a calm, sunny day, such as this one in early July.

Soon, it was time for dinner. What would I prefer? So many choices! Seafood is a favorite. Beach dining is great. Or, how about the comfort of a Shepard Pie in the Hog Penny English Pub in Hamilton?  This entrée had been my husband’s choice on our last visit to this quaint island nation and it was delicious! Shepard’s Pie was not something I would normally prefer, but it was tasty for sure! Maybe, I’ll go and have that. The pub was fun, intimate, and full of both tourists and locals, that would make it an interesting place to people watch.

Back at the hotel, I had to decide what I would prefer to do with my evening. I prefer wine as my libation of choice when home. But here? Again, there seemed to be a lot of choices. Should I have the traditional Dark and Stormy or the Bermudian’s national cocktail of a Rum Swizzle, instead? No, I prefer wine. I’ll have a glass in the hotel lounge and do some more people watching.

Then, to bed. I prefer to get a good night sleep. When my husband arrives, we’ll go with his preferences for a day or two, as I prefer not to make so many decisions.

Inspired by the WordPress Daily Prompt: Prefer

The Difference a Week Makes

The Difference a Week Makes

Wow! It has been a whirlwind week. I am mid-course learning about environmental history. It has been a challenging course just due to some computer issues and heavy reading. But, I have been learning lots of new facts…..and realized that the course is already half over! My final project will be on the history of the Mississippi Valley Conservancy.  This is a local organization that preserves and conserves local lands through working with citizens and stewardship. Another realization I had is that active citizenship and the development of environmental stewardship are at the core of what I have done for the last 14 years as a volunteer.  I value citizenship and stewardship!

But, my volunteer status is about to change!  This week, for the first time in a VERY long time, I had a job interview!  And, this week, for the first time in a VERY long time, I was hired to do a job – a job that I have done before, but as a volunteer! A job I am excited about taking, and which will allow me to plant more seeds of environmental steward ship in a new group of local youth. It almost feels like my professional rebirth! More will be written more about this opportunity in future posts. Stay tuned!

This week, I was reminded that life can change on a dime. Every day is precious. Every day is important. It is not worth getting excited about things which I cannot change, no matter how much I want that change.  Sometimes, you just have to move positively forward and hope for the best.

And, the best might be revealing itself.  This week I learned that my children, not I, have agreed – on their own – to be involved in seeking positive change.  Mature, potentially change making discussions are taking place with students – one of whom is mine – considering their views, their feedback, their opinions, and what they view as important.  Is this not what we all want? We all want our children to be self-advocates, to have their opinions sought, to have them be able to verbalize what they consider important and what their personal view of learning holds. By the time our children are in high school, they should be self-advocating – our years of lessons, role-modeling, discussing, and demonstrating should be coming to a close, not be ramping up.  Let this be a lesson for all parents who rush the doors of the teacher or counselor.  Do your job as a parent, and then watch your child do what you have so carefully, but even possibly, incidentally, taught them. It will amaze you and lighten your heart!

I was reminded I can be excited about my own course of learning. My research study was approved by my mentor – it will be going on to the IRB by early next week. I learned that patience does pay off. Sometimes, it is just important to wait and let others take the time they need to accomplish what they said they would. Most people do make good on their word.

This week made a difference.  I am headed in a new direction.  The time is now.

Weekly Word Press Photo Challenge: Rounded

Weekly Word Press Photo Challenge: Rounded

These are my submissions to the Weekly Word Press Photo Challenge on Rounded. What I found was there is roundedness in nature and roundedness that is man-made. Enjoy!

Architecture in Washington, D.C. from Old Postal Pavillon, 2010
WWII Memorial, Washington, D.C.
Barrel Cactus, Balboa Park, San Diego, 2012
Clock Face
Water Wheel, 2011, Mississippi River Cruise


Ten Things I (re)Learned in the Last Ten Days

Ten Things I (re)Learned in the Last Ten Days

Tuesdays are always a day I put a little more consideration into the topic on which I will write. It is because the piece will also be posted to the Slice Of Life Tuesdays blog forum from TwoWritingTeachers in which other educators also post their pieces. We share ideas, feelings, lesson plans, challenges, and rewards all in a slice of writing about a piece of our life.  I try to write something related to the world of education on Tuesdays for the feedback from other bloggers is useful and friendly.  This week, since I have not written a list style post in a while, and I was also thinking about little, but important things I have recently been reminded, I would post those. And, yes, some are cliche’ – I think they bear repeating.

10. Life is short. Do not sweat the small stuff. Appreciate each and every day.

9. Do not let your passion for a subject overtake your life.

8. Live in Balance. Stop to appreciate nature. Relaxation is as important as hard work.

7. Even when you are trying to do good, someone will think otherwise.

6. Hug your children. They need it. And, so do you. Hug them tight.

5. Negative posts need to be balanced with positive posts.  Hopefully, one does not garner more attention than the other.

4. Good friends rise to the surface when you need them, and this make me so grateful.

3. When one door closes, another opens – almost always.

2. If computer networks fail, we are all in trouble. Big Trouble.

1.  The written word is powerful, but maybe not as powerful as a good conversation.