The cicadas tell the time

I’m going to miss sitting outside in the morning with my coffee, listening to the pond. That quiet that surrounds me during those moments is crucial to my well being, I think. No other sounds can be heard except the water running from the waterfall and the fountain.

See how my fountain looks sort of wonky? Funny story.

I used to have the fountain sitting on top of a platform in the middle of the pond. It had two extension tubes at the top so it was just visible over the surface. It was lovely.

Then a new neighbor dog decided that my pond was going to be his personal swimming pool. Every day he would come over and get in one one side, swim around a few laps, then get out the other side. My fountain sometimes got knocked over by Swim Dog, and during one of those swimming episodes, the extension tube got knocked off and sank to the bottom.

As you can see, my water isn’t all that clear this year. All the products I have tried have not cleared up the algae in the pond this year, and I can’t go too crazy because I still have freaking tadpoles that are in the pond. I honestly do not remember them still being there in August, but I also know that the frog love got a late start this year due to, well, let’s just say due to 2020. That seems to be a nice catch-all for anything weird that happens.

When I dug the pond, I did so rather impulsively. I didn’t really think about how making a deep pond would kind of be a pain in the butt when it came to maintenance. The thing is about 3 ft deep in the middle, so when an extension tube sinks in greenish water, I ain’t gonna go get it. I was hoping that the tadpoles would have been teenagers by now and that I could do a water exchange in the pond, but no dice. Apparently they don’t want to grow up.

So now I have the fountain perched on one of the shallow rims that go around the edge of the fountain and I just make it do a little arc. Looks kind of Wal-marty, but it still makes the same nice noise, so I don’t care.

Swim Dog’s reins seem to have been tightened by his owners, for I have not seen him in several weeks. His swimmin’ days are over, apparently.

The cicadas are out in full force, chattering the nights away, which means school is starting soon. And they are accurate, for this whole next week will be filled with meetings as we prepare for what will probably be a very unusual school year. You know – UNPRECEDENTED. Everything this year has that adjective blanketing it. Last night at a faculty gathering, we were guessing how long it would take until we would have to shut down again after school started. We should probably start a wager on that one.

The big question of the year is, “Are you ready?” Some say yes, some say no, some say they will just be winging it this year. After you’ve been teaching for 20-something years, it’s pretty easy to “wing it” and make it look easy, but this year, that’s all any of us can really do. We could be super organized and map out the entire semester, but we don’t even know if we will be having in-person classes the entire semester, so why bother?

I will miss sitting by the pond, sipping my coffee, and not having to strategically plan my bathroom breaks. I love my job, but there is a reason summer break exists, and it’s so teachers everywhere can take a deep breath and remember how to relax again. We’ve had an extended break of sorts, and although I have been working on school stuff for the past couple of months, I am ready to be back in the classroom again. The year didn’t end normally, graduation wasn’t normal, and we never got to say goodbye to the seniors like we normal do. They were just gone. We were all gone. I had a few students stop by the other day to say “hey” before they went off to college, and I just about cried when I saw them standing on my front porch – three awesome girl whom I never had a chance to say goodbye to when school called off. I haven’t even seen them since mid-March, so it was lovely for them to take time out of their beautiful summer day to bring me some mini candy bars and chit chat for a while.

Those moments – those are why we teach. As great as summer break is (and necessary), that’s not why most teachers stick with this industry. It’s because of those kids who turned out to be decent human being and will go out to make the world a better place. It’s also because of the kids who are total shits but have a reason to be, so we stick with them until they stop being so angry at the world. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

This job is a strange mixture of soul-killing stress and joyful exhilaration and every emotion in between. I love it and I hate it (the stress, the grading, the endless hoops to jump through to prove I’m doing my job) but every fall I get that little tickle of excitement where I want to buy ALL THE THINGS in the school supply aisle and am excitedly pouring over my rosters for the year.

The cicadas are my ending bell for the summer and my starting bell for school.

I just hope all that chattering isn’t some weird code for how 2020 will get even stranger than it already has.

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Um, toads? Don’t you know about the “new normal”?

I’ll admit that I am more than a little weary of the new talking points of this time period, including the one I used in the title of this post. New normal, social distancing, and whatever adjective ad execs and politicians want to use in front of the word “times” – challenging times, unprecedented times, difficult times, extraordinary times, uncertain, etc. I am mildly annoyed that I have to sit through commercials that now talk about COVID and social distancing. Good lord, enough already.

At my house, however, nature knows no social distancing rules. The toads have invaded my pond and they are NOT 6-feet apart.

I know my pond has been the subject of this blog before, but for those who may not be familiar with the backstory, let me digress for a moment.

Continue reading “Um, toads? Don’t you know about the “new normal”?”
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