We drove north of the small town in Wyoming. The internet called it a true off the grid experience where there was “limited” cell service. Good grief, I thought, it was 30 min. north of town, this place, where the Comanche and Shoshone once lived and wrote on the rock.
It took some talking to convince Steve to go with me, although, finally I just said I was going and if he was interested he could come along. He came with me, even though we didn’t have the perfect weather and we had so much *stuff* to do at the house.
We drove, ten miles north, exit right and take another 18 miles on dirt road, then turn left 3 more miles an even more narrow and bumpier dirt road. On the way, we were surrounded by sagebrush and 4 wheelers on that Sunday afternoon, it certainly didn’t feel like an “off the grid” experience. Not yet.
Driving the last couple miles, the landscape began to transform. Up ahead you could see cliffs and around us it was green, an oasis, and such a contrast from the brown landscape we’d just driven through. I felt my body and mind relax. I took in deep breaths as I imagined what it must have been like in this place so many years ago.
The last leg of our journey was on foot, just a quarter mile to the petroglyphs. Steve puts his hand on my arm and points ahead. A mountain bluebird sits on a branch ahead of us. I squeeze his hand as he gently pulls out the binoculars in his pocket and silently thank him for thinking of bringing them along. We share the binoculars, as we watch the pair of them and wonder if there’s a nest nearby.
Moving on we arrive at the cliffs of sandstone. I felt sucked back in time as I walked up to the rock and my fingers gently touched the grooves of the rock. We don’t talk but just walk and seem lost in our own thoughts. I turn my back to the writings and look out to the vast expanse of land around us. A panoramic view of green, brown and blue.
When life’s bumps are more lumps
Perspective shifts, shines on those for whom my heart pumps
One little word is “determined,” who knew it would be so apropos
Determination will be needed, along with love and support
Blessings are counted
And problems surmounted
Hope and courage
Don’t get discouraged
This is the picture I got…. but this was not what I had been watching, quietly crouched behind a tree in the morning hours of early spring. I came here hoping for a sighting of some migrating birds and water fowl. The park was silent and I was loving it.
As I came around the corner of the pond two beautiful wood ducks swam out into the open from that brush where the trees are reflected in the still, calm water. I froze and then hid and watched while holding my breath. My camera hung useless around my neck, forgotten as I became lost in the scene before me.
Wood ducks are rare here and in that moment, I felt like someone had given me a golden ticket. It was as if I’d been rewarded with a very special treasure. I finally remembered my camera, clicked it on and pulled it to my face. Just as soon as I got ready to take this shot, they flew off and here’s what ended up on my camera… no ducks.
However, as I walked away, I was smiling thinking about my missed photo op.
As a special education teacher, I’ve never been a big fan of AR (accelerated reader) quizzes. There are a couple of reasons for my bias. These quizzes bring an unnatural pressure for students to “fake” read for points. You’ve probably all experienced the students that …. watched the movie, then took the quiz or had a book read to them, then took the quiz or simply never read the book at all and then miserably failed the quiz. BUT, have you ever experienced this….
This happened in a 4th grade classroom, students are require read books at their “level” and take an AR quiz at least 1 per month. As I’m checking the quizzes and scores, I see that one young man has read such books as Big Bird’s, Big Book and Elmo’s Countdown to Bedtime. Not only that he’s flunking the quizzes. Hmmmmmm
This student is actually a wonderful reader, however, not my best rule follower. Still, I was surprised when I discovered this and called him over to tell him how disappointed I was that he wasn’t taking this assignment seriously. I needed to find out what was going on. Was he being silly? Was he rebelling against the AR quizzes? Was he showing off for friends? All these questions went through my mind.
His answer, “I didn’t do that Mrs. Worrell.”
“Well, if you didn’t do it, who did?” was my rather haughty reply.
After some lengthy investigation, the general education teacher and I discovered that there were two young ladies in this class that were playing a trick on him. They’d found out his password and entered those books and quizzes on his account. Well, well, well. That was a first for me.
It was early Saturday morning and it was just that perfect morning for a walk along the river. Baby blue skies, calm and gentle breeze, with spring in the air. I grabbed my coat, camera and coffee, hopped in the car and drove down to the Platte River. Perfect! There was only one other car there which meant I’d have some quiet time for refection and observation.
It didn’t take long. As I started down the path, I could hear the meadowlarks. They were back! I stayed so very still, listened…….. looked. I could hear them but still didn’t see one. I walked gently into the dry meadow where green grass was just starting to peak out. It was hard to stay quiet as my feet crunched beneath me.
There he was.
Once I saw him, I began to see and hear more of them. I must have been getting close to a nest, because there were a pair of bright yellow meadowlarks flying and singing. They were really trying to divert my attention. As I kept listening, I could hear a soft chirping of babies near me and understood. I slowly tiptoed back to the path and continued my walk… smiling. Happy to slow down for a few moments.
As I walked along, I thought about my students and how sometimes they make a lot of noise and commotion about some minor issue. Or how in my relationships, there will be an argument or disagreement about…. well… I’m not sure how it got started. Could it be a diversion from the real problem? I listen to them, but do I hear and understand? Will it be like the meadowlarks? The more I listen, the more I’ll hear.
Determined… checking in on my one little word
This word was chosen because I was tired of giving up, running away and hiding my head in the sand. If there was any push back in life I gave up. I preached stamina to my students, but I didn’t have as much as I wanted in my own life.
This word was chosen because I wanted to increase my follow through on personal goals for myself, my relationships, and my profession. I was determined to be intentional about….. about life.
Now, when I grow weary of the fight, I think of you… determined….and I remember to push a little harder to find a way to break through the walls of a student, a wayward daughter, or an intimidating challenge. Determined to stay and not be afraid.
For me it is frightening to confront conflict, to speak out, to be assertive about my beliefs and this year I have been determined to find the way that works for me.
My word has made given me confidence, strength and well, dare I say it… determination.
I want to thank you for your support, OLW and want you to know I will continue to keep checking in on you as the year goes on and I continue to grow more determined in everything I value, cherish and hold dear in life.
Day #31 #SOL17
Where I’m from….
I’m from the land of cows, milk, cheese curds and beer
From a time when children were seen but not heard
When seat belts were optional and car seats unheard of
We played until the noon whistle, ate lunch, and then played until the street light came on
Playing statue tag, freeze tag, red light, green light and rode the tires out on our bikes
I came from the music of Petula Clark, Frank Sinatra and the Mills Brothers at home on vinyl records on a stereo with big box speakers
I came from a father that read us books way above us, so my vocabulary grew – “The Secret Garden” and “Just So Stories” to name just a few
I came from love that was felt but not spoken of or shown much
A place where we played in creeks, forests and made up wild imaginary tales
I came from a place that wasn’t perfect
But I loved it and it’s helped me become who I am