It is early morning. I am at the beach and on the screened porch that I love. I came in from my walk, poured my coffee, and sat down at this familiar weathered picnic table to write. The porch is swept clean from dinner last night. The games that followed a summer feast of crabs and corn are put away. The floor lamp that lit the scrabble tiles has been taken back into the living room. The porch is drenched with the dawn pink light of the early morning ocean sky; it is a place of quiet solitude. I cherish my mornings here.
I teach writing to my third graders. I teach that writing is looking and not missing the moment. I teach that writers write everyday. And I practice what I preach. I write what I see. And I write because, well, because life is exquisite… with moments that overfill and spill onto the page. Writing is an invitation not to miss those moments. This is the invitation that I extend to my students.
This morning, as I walked on the sand at the water’s edge, I watched the sun rise out of the ocean, creating a path of light across the water. I stopped and looked and there they were: dolphins arching out of the water like a line of synchronized swimmers. You’ll only see them if you look. Quick now. Here. Now. Always.
Summer solitude is essential to the reflective, loving, creative (and very extroverted) work of teaching. Every August, like this porch, I am swept clean. I have room to remember what I know.
This morning an early cricket sings and in her song a warning bell rings: summer’s end, summer’s end, summer’s end. Soon I’ll get ready to teach another group of children to uncover all that is too beautiful, or frightening, or exquisite, or amazing, or awesome about life– and how to catch what spills over with a pencil in hand. Who are they? I don’t know yet. But I will. And time has taught me what I know to be true — I will love being their teacher.
There are the words of T.S. Eliot:
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
The sun is higher in the sky. It is time to clear this table to make way for the day’s possibilities: my husband’s fresh biscuits; children and grandchildren; sandcastles and play in the surf; games of Crazy Eights and bridge. I hear feet. I am ready for all of it.