This is today’s theme song.
This is today’s theme song because, after school today, we rode at a crawling 25 mph to Forrest City from Palestine with our flashers on. Our Nissan is having clutch issues, so we had to start it in second and crawl down to the shop. We felt like a tractor. This song has already made the cut for Now That’s What Sean and Keely Call Country 2 because of its puns and its perfect accuracy. It is 100% true to life here.
The clutch crapped out at rush hour (7:45) at The Intersection in Palestine, right across the street from the school. Embarrassment! Mortification! Some students pushed me into the parking lot, an undertaking which stopped traffic for a time. EVERYONE knew I was having car trouble. Now, to be fair. having car trouble at school is almost fun. My students aren’t much for academics, but they’re great mechanics. A lot of them take diesel mechanic classes at the community college. Every third dude has a dad who’s got a shop. Over the course of the day, I probably had six or seven kids look at my car, and I learned something new each time. It’s fun for everyone when students get to teach their teacher something.
Once I was safely (late) at school, the network was down, so I had no way of printing my worksheets or of contacting Sean (nobody answered the phone at his school). I started first period with a total blank, but I came up with a kickass flow chart for quadratics and I think I successfully taught the quadratic formula. In any case, my kids were working a pretty advanced open response question like BAMFs (as Simmons might say).
When we got back to school from the shop in Forrest City (owned by C’s dad!), some kids were riding horses on the campus. No joke. I wish I’d snapped a photo. It was a perfect afternoon for it, and they looked so happy, grinning those big grins from way up there.
In Arkansas, birds in chevrons unzip the winter sky, always on their way to some finer place. Maybe they’re going someplace with topography. From time to time, on my way home, I’ve seen whole fields carpeted with white acres of snow geese, invariably melted by morning. One day this winter there were hundreds of seagulls fishing in the lake. On Thursday, there were a handful of handsome white pelicans, drifting like dignified marshmallows in the fog over the water.
I had a praxis in Helena this morning, so I took the low road and drove slow with the radio up and the windows down. I’ve come to love country music since I came to live here: I like songs about badass ladies, loving men, bare feet, dirt roads, skinny dipping, hard work, and campfires. I also like bad puns. There are still no leaves on the trees, but today had the feel of a spring Saturday, and with Sean on a field trip, I had the world to myself. After my test, I picked up snacks in town and had a picnic at the rookery. The rookery is miles of pitted dirt from anything, and the sun was shining on Carro’s roof like the bat signal. I heeded the message and hopped up, snacking on chips, basking in the sunshine, reading, gazing up at the blue sky framed by the bare cypress and water tupelo, and tuning in to the barred owls, the absence of human noise, and the occasional cry of a prehistoric monster from the treetops.
We think they’re wood storks, but we haven’t gotten close enough to be sure. They nest in the bald cypress and they are magnificent. They’ve been gone all winter, and I’ll take it as a sign of spring that they’re here again. One of my summer ambitions is to paddle out to their trees and collect a feather. I want to feel the panic and the cool shade on my shoulders as a pterodactyl shadow flows over me, muting the sun for seconds as a time.
P.S. Sean found a dead possum in our garbage can yesterday, and neither of us put it there! It’s a mystery: did it crawl in there before the ice storm and then die of exposure? Did it choke on some particularly nasty bit of refuse?