June is still not back from the Island. I wonder what she's doing? How she is? Is she cold?
I'm wondering especially if she's cold because it just snowed. Here, I mean. I don't know what the weather is like where she is. The thing is, it hasn't been that cold this week--lately it's actually been unseasonably hot--but we had one chilly day, and while it was nowhere near freezing at ground level, it did snow for about five minutes. It was bizarre.
I can't help wondering if the same freakish chill wind was blowing, but harder, where June is. After all, the Island is a few hundred miles north of here. I wish she were safe and warm with me.
Ok, I admit, June can take care of herself. She is safe. I just wish she were here with me.
My workshops are doing well. At least three people have attended each of them, and I've gotten a lot of really useful feedback, not all of it critical...I don't mean that I'm bad at teaching, I'm really not, but Charlie threw me a curveball by demanding that I design workshops to teach material that most of the students here really have no interest in. I suppose it might be possible to make it engaging anyway, but that would take a great teacher and that I am not.
Anyway, Charlie, I'm sure, didn't mean for me to do this so well that everybody loved what I'm doing. He meant for me to learn. He meant for me to try teaching the grad school material, so that I retain it better, and to expand my range as an educator. I suppose I'll be able to take what I've learned from this exercise and use it to create workshops and talks that do appeal more to the students here.
I do wish I had more free time this week, because campus is gorgeous. It's almost empty of people, kind of like winter--the Dining Hall is even shut down, which I hadn't known happens, we've just been getting our meals from the kitchen and eating in our dorms. The place has a restful, introspective feel. But everything's green. Green and red and white and yellow with flowers, and some of the farm fields are sprouting up in rows of lettuce and radishes and peas and whatever else, and there are singing birds all over the place...and this time I know what a lot of them are. I learned my birds in grad school, remember, and I remember most of them. I do what Charlie taught me with plants, greeting each one, in my head, by name, when I encounter it.
I can sit in the middle of their Central Field, or in the Front Garden, or the Formal Garden, or my spot in the forest, and listen in on birds arguing with each other. I know where the nests are, where the property lines are between territories...not exactly of course, and not completely, that would be a full-time job, but I know there's usually a mockingbird singing on the top of that tree, and when he's not there I notice and I wonder what he's doing.
I went home briefly, this weekend, for Mother's Day--another advantage of not going to the Island, I didn't get to visit Mom for Mother's Day once when I was a novice. We had a good time. But today I noticed a pine seedling, the tips of its first whorl of needles still stuck in its seed, just sprouting up along the path in the Formal Garden. It can't stay there, sooner or later it will get stepped on and crushed, and of course if all pine seedlings that sprout grew up, we'd be jam-packed with pines. But something about this one appealed to me, not that it seemed different in any way, just in its particularity, and I thought about how any tree, anywhere, no matter how large or how old it is, was once a seedling. And I thought--this baby, too, has a mother.