Gardening & grading: a meandering

19/04/2015

An indirect benefit of being a teacher is the summer. The two and a half months beckon you. Sleeping late. Trips to places far and near, otherwise neglected. Late evenings sitting on the porch listening to the evening chirps of insects.

Yet themagnolia blosson fall, winter, and spring months are not so generous. Evenings and weekends are spent designing lessons and presentations, reading materials that (perhaps) do not fill your soul, and finally, the onerous grading. This is such a weekend.

The temperature varies this weekend between 60s and 80s F. Sunny with breezes. Birds are busy looking for mates. Daffodils and magnolia blossoms are past, one last gasp, blooms stretched wide and open. Tulips, the redbud trees, and periwinkle are in full glory. I cannot resist. I am addicted to plunging my hands into the earth.

Toward the beginning of evening, I decide to re-arrange a small area of the yard, It is barren and has been waiting patiently for months. The shovel in my hand is a weapon. I ruthlessly plunge it deep into the soft earth, insensitive to root and stones. Hitting hard, I place my full weight with force, turning the ground over and over. Stopping for a breath, I notice the shells. Crusted. White. Broken. Oyster shells.flower pot with shells

Long ago -a century ago – this house owned different people. A family who sustained themselves through work with a delivery service (by horse), a garden for food, and chickens. These shells are reminders of their presence. This family experienced births and deaths in this house. The children ran around this very yard, albeit smaller now. The wife tended home and hearth, caring for the chickens by including oyster shells in their diet for the calcium needed to strengthen egg shells.

What is it that lasts in our lifetime? What lives on and is woven into the fabric of others’ lives, perhaps even unknown to them?

Grades. These are lessons learned. More than a subject. It is about deadlines, instructions, allocating time, and honesty. My hope for my students is experience these “facts” as the lesson. Facts that will help them to live well when I am long gone.

woman in front of chicken coopAnd, as far as the shells -in a gently, sloping area of the garden I plant flowers –  in remembrance of this family who lived, prayed, loved, and died here. What else can I do?

The shells ask only this of me.


Historic Takoma Park, Inc. Images of America: Takoma Park.  Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2011. Print

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One Response to “Gardening & grading: a meandering”

  1. Sally Says:

    Sometimes you unearth things and don’t know at all what they are or if they held meaning for someone. The humble oyster shells in your garden are fortunate: you found them and know who they are.

    Like


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