Jerry and I flew to Norfolk, Virginia and then drove to the Outer Banks last week. When the kids were young, we drove down every summer for a week (sometimes two weeks when we were feeling rich) to ride those huge waves that weren’t freezing like the ones on the Cape, to kayak in the marshes,to walk the endless beaches and see the sunrises over the ocean in the morning and the sunsets over the sound in the evening. We loved it there. Jerry and I even thought about retiring there (so glad we didn’t!) And when we decided to move to Florida and I told Erin, there was silence and then a pained, “Does that mean we’ll never go to the Outer Banks again?”
And we haven’t been back until last week.
We drove over the bridge and onto the island seeing familiar landmarks and changes. We checked in and did what we always did when we arrived on the Banks…headed to the beach. The waves were just as huge as I remembered them. The dunes were just as wild and free. But we had always been there in the summer and oh my, it was cold. And the wind was fierce, blowing stinging sand against my legs. Our walk was a tad shorter than I thought it would be. There was a gazebo up near the hotel that was a bit more sheltered. I went there to sit and stare. The beach was just too brutal for me.
We were on the Banks for visit a classroom at First Flight High School. Each year, Anne and Clark Knickerbocker, my sister and her husband, fund several grants designed to get books in the hands of kids who might not otherwise have them though Snapdragon Foundation. Lauren Deal, a Freshman English teacher, wrote a marvelous grant proposal requesting books for her classroom, books her kids would want to read. She explained that she had an extensive classroom collection, that she had bought a lot of the books herself and done her fair share of hitting tag sales, writing grants, finding every way possible to get the books she knew her kids would love.
I had read her grant proposal and had done my fair share of getting books for my own classroom but nothing prepared me for the incredible collection in her room. Ceiling to floor bookshelves on two walls, lamps and comfortable chairs as well as the typical desk and chair arrangements in tables that looked like my fifth grade classroom. Even as I talked with Lauren, my eyes kept roaming the room. I just wanted to browse her shelves and take down the titles of books to read!
We arrived during her prep. A few kids were “hanging out” and others dropped in to return books or borrow one, to tell her they loved the last book she recommended. Her class arrived and it was so obvious that these kids were in good hands. Lucky kids to have a teacher like Lauren. Lucky Lauren to have a principal who “let” her find her own way to educate the kids in her class.
I just saw a tweet Lauren posted on Twitter:
Kid: I need a book to read.
Me: (Lauren) What are you in the mood for?
Kid: Something murdery.
It made me smile.
Jerry and I were on the Outer Banks for less than 48 hours but we certainly filled “the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run.” We visit two lighthouses– I climbed one of them (240 steps) and we visited two wildlife sanctuaries (couldn’t go hiking…would have been blown away) We went to the Wright Brothers Memorial and the park ranger’s talk was fabulous. They certainly picked the right woman for that job. We went to some old favorite restaurants and discovered some new favorites. And we decided we need to bring the Texans next time
for an Outer Banks vacation just like their mom and uncle had years ago. They would love those waves.
And now we’re home and so glad to be here. Honestly, I know I’ve said this before but I really do wish I could be two people. One would never leave Venice and one would travel…to family, to friends, to new adventures and old favorites.
Sean and Carly’s baby is due in 22 days! I sent her a package addressed to “Lemon Ginley (still don’t know that child’s name) the other day. Snowbirds are in the process of heading north. Damn, I hate saying goodbye to them every year. When are they going to decide to stay???
Two books…Monticello by Sally Gunning. Fascinating. Thoroughly enjoyed it. And We Were Liars, a young adult book that won the “best book of the year” in Lauren’s classroom a few weeks ago.
And much as I love retirement, I do miss teaching a bit. Erin is subbing this week and texted me to ask me if I could do a quick write up on Egg Drop Day. (when you package a raw egg so you can drop it from a high place and it would survive.) I wrote her a parent letter, a lesson plan, a “lab report” template along with some caveats based on my own experience (tell the kids it’s an EXPERIMENT and they should try not to cry if their eggs smash, clear out eggs before letting others drop because some make it down just fine only to be smashed by the next one coming down, put eggs in zip lock bags before you package them, make kids write the lab report and analyze why certain things work and others don’t) Egg Drop at Center School had turned into a major event with five second grade classes, parents, kindergarten and first grade cheering…I always did one myself. My favorite was when I just tied it between two teddy bears (who unfortunately looked like they were having sex) Egg survived just fine but as far as I know it was unfertilized!
Happy Spring, everyone. I hear it’s warming up in Massachusetts. Yay. It’s about time!