Teachers Write 2021 – Week 1

Get outside.

That’s where this week’s assignment began, and I’m in… or, rather, out.

I love to be outside. I always say my favorite restaurant is one with a patio. Coffee on my front porch is my happy place. Birdsong always brings me peace. Even the garbage truck collecting the cans down my street is making me smile right now. It’s not that I’m outdoorsy; certainly, I’m not an adventurer. I like a slower pace a quiet moment. Breathing in the air and feeling the sunlight on my skin, or listening to the raindrops rattle the gutter, watching the breeze tickle the leaves, it just reminds me that I am – we are – so much more than our distractions.

So, when I was asked to think of a time in my childhood when I felt whole, the first place that came to mind was outside my grandparents’ doublewide, if you can believe it. We lived on seven acres of land. A barn, a corral, a couple of trailers, a stock tank with an annual crew of ducklings, an atrium with fancy chickens, finches, and a guinea pig – a bunny, some peacocks, quite a few dogs, several horses… It was play farm, it was a playground, and it was my home.

I had so many adventures. I was a gymnast, a ballerina, a circus clown, a cowgirl, and a Thundercat. I collected eggs, fed carrots to the horses, and I wondered if we walked and walked, beyond our property, out towards that wide Texas horizon if I could eventually reach out far enough to touch the moon.

One morning, when I was maybe three or four, I was out digging in the dirt of our long driveway, leading from the country road into our land and up towards the trailer. I sat there, wearing one of my grandfathers old, shrunken t-shirts, a pair of shorts – dirt covering my knees, mud packed under my nails, and somehow, mysteriously, magically, six scrappy kittens came scrambling up that long, dirt drive. Furry balls of white and orange and grey, striped coats, pink padded paws, twitching tails and long white whiskers tumbled right into my delighted lap.

Can you imagine the magic?

Six strays, probably dumped and abandoned, but what did I know? It was Shangri-la, and of course those kittens would magically appear. It was wonderful and surprising, but somehow, in our little pocket of the world, that magic made sense.

Exercise 4 from Steering the Craft : A 21st Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story, Ursula K. Le Guin (1998)
Photo by Dorothea OLDANI on Unsplash

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