Day Two: March 18, 2020
Day Two, March 18, 2020
One of my rituals each morning is going out to feed the chickens. I saved the leavings from last night's stir-fry (carrot peels and ends, the bottoms of bok choy, leaves and stems of broccoli) in a yogurt container, and added to that some sliced up cabbage (something Laurie Parker shared with me as a chicken favorite), and then added a scoop of scratch (seeds). In another yogurt container I got a scoop of pellets, and headed outside.
The wonderful thing about chickens is how they express sheer joy. They hear the door open and see me come around the corner and they get all excited and start hopping from one foot to the other, they run back and forth along the fencing, and if they were busy inside thinking about laying an egg, all that is history as they hop down from the coop to see what's for breakfast.
I talk to them a little bit. This morning I explained that so much is going on in the world, and that they were lucky to live in such blissful ignorance, like British game show contestants... well, I didn't go into all that detail because they don't read the news or watch TV. But I did exclaim how lucky they were to not have to worry about all that is going on out there.
I give the scraps a little heave out into their yard so they have fun pecking around, and put the pellets in their feeder. Then I collected the day's eggs and realized, unlike most Wednesday mornings, this Wednesday morning I had time to clean their coop a bit. So I got the bucket and the repurposed cat litter scoop and did my chores. One of the chickens always gets excited when I clean up, and she ran around to come into the coop while I cleaned, so I talked to her, told her she was sweet. Then she got jealous of her sisters eating all the treats so she ran back out to the yard. I finished up and thanked them for the eggs, and told them to have a nice day.
Most days are nice for chickens, as long as it's not snowing or raining, or unless there's a dog, or hawks. But we've been mostly lucky, so for our girls, most days are nice except for the weather. They repay us for the treats with an abundance of eggs, which form the foundation of my egg, veggie sausage, and cheese sandwiches on bread Debbie made (thank you Jen Simms).
I have been writing about my parents, their stories and memories, and how they intersect with my stories and memories, and to that end I've been meaning to go visit and interview them with a digital recorder. But these last few months have been busy and I kept putting it off, and when I did have meetings in the Boston area I felt too rushed to stop in for long, so I didn't get to it. Now it seems we are maintaining social distance and while they would open their house to family no matter what, we are all cautious about exposing them to anything... so it looks like I won't be interviewing them in person any time soon, but maybe I can harness technology and record a Zoom or FaceTime interview or something like that.
I was writing this morning about the stories we don't get right. The ones that we think we know, but then realize have some haziness, the things we don't tell and keep to ourselves. As a storyteller those are, of course, the real stories. But as a parent, and as a son, I understand why we don't tell the whole thing and, in fact, I am nervous of the day my own kids will ask me to explain myself. Thankfully, that seems a ways off for now. I have thought about recruiting one or more of my kids to help with interviewing my parents. I think they would like to be engaged in that.
The days already seem to have a rhythm. President's Staff has a set conference call each morning, and then I move on to responding to emails, various other Zoom meetings and calls. I forget things, and then remember them, and do the things I forgot to do. Then around noon, Debbie asked if I wanted to take Franklin for a hike around the conservation area in downtown Montague. A brisk walk around the path is a good 30-40 minutes, and I had just enough time before my 1 pm call, so I tied up my hiking boots and we went off.
It is a quick drive downtown, and walking from the car we crossed paths with three boys coming back from a fishing expedition. There was still a chill in the air, even though it was sunny, and they had the fresh ruddy faces of kids enjoying their adventure, each of them carrying a pole, one with a net, and another a tackle box. I loved fishing as a kid, and spent many hours out on Goose Pond in Tyringham on my dad's aluminum flatback canoe with a 1.5 hp Johnson motor. I think that is still one of the places I return to when I close my eyes, the glass smooth surface of the lake (it is called a pond, but it is a lake) just past dawn, my rod cast and set with the bail open, and lying back on the canoe floor with my head propped up against tackle box cushioned by flotation devices. I can smell the water now as I write this.
Today was still chilly, so I jogged at a slow pace to build up some warmth. Franklin loves going on hikes and investigates everything. There's a little oxbow where people swim in the summer and the bank is constantly eroding in that shape shifting that oxbows are always engaged in. I once read an article about oxbows and how they will eventually become straight pass throughs, but for now the soft sand and clay fall away to create a steep embankment to the little swimming hole maybe a quarter mile upstream from the Bookmill. The hike takes a loop through the woods following a tributary branch of the Sawmill River and rises up a little hill before coming back down to the open plain (at least until the brush rises up in the spring).
I know at GCC there is a walking group, but I never have time to join them, so if there is a plus to our new reality, taking a walk during my lunch break (instead of eating a bowl of soup while reading email) feels like a real gift. I got back in time for my 1pm meeting, then had my egg sandwich.
Well, that's probably enough of an update for today. If you're looking for more online teaching tips, be sure to click on the tab at the top of the page, but here are today's additions.
Today's Online Teaching Tips:
Gary Ackerman has created a page to help faculty transition to Moodle. You do need to log into the Moodle system to access it.
If you are having trouble logging into Moodle please submit a help desk ticket.
Thank you for your feedback and response to my initial post. Here are some of the wonderful things people shared in the last 24 hours:
From an Essay Shared by Jen Simms:"The difficult problems are the fundamental problems; simplicity stands at the end, not at the beginning of a work. If education can lead us to elementary seeing, away from too much and too complex information, to the quietness of vision and discipline of forming, it again may prepare us for the task ahead, working for today and tomorrow." Anni Albers, 1944
Full Text Here
A Beautiful Thing from Charlotte Gifford:"I can offer one beautiful thing: in our little valley (a classic "cold pocket" in local weather-speak) here in southern VT, the snow has receded, and I have snowdrops coming up and the crocuses are just peeking out from under the leaf litter. These early garden treats always give me hope."
Dog picture request from Natalie Feliciano, here's Franklin:
Positive Thought From Jan Ross:
Positive thought: Would you consider creating a blog or something (or add a space on yours?) where we can anonymously post the “random acts of kindness” that we all are doing for friends and neighbors. It might be quite uplifting and give us ideas too.
I’m watching the sun creep down my back hillside and the birds zipping around. Peaceful.