Spring. Now the days are long. They will continue to lengthen. Light brings blessing, growth. Sunday night, June 2, I saw the first lightning bugs of the season. They are magical. As I walked out for errands Monday morning, there walking on the sidewalk to my porch was a small brown and yellow box turtle. When it saw me, he started to draw in, but he turned and walked into the grass. Now there will be heat and humidity for months. They, too, has their blessings.
Another teacher. Since I have received several comments about my eulogy for Mrs. Pounds, I will re-print this remembrance of my second grade teacher:
Miss Betty Isbell
Greenville, South Carolina
School Year, 1956-1957
One morning Miss Betty was having our second grade class write about our wish. What was our wish?
This was going to be a hard assignment for me, for I knew better than to tell your wish. You wished it on a birthday cake before you blew out the candles. You wished it on a star. You could pray for it. But you could not tell it. And writing it would be telling it.
But with Miss Betty, maybe I could write it. I had a crush on Miss Betty. No, I loved Miss Betty. She had been my faculty carpool ride to school for two years now, and I loved her happiness, her smiles, her clicking her long red nails on the steering wheel in rhythm to the radio music, her enthusiasm about learning phonics and reading and arithmetic, her blond eyes and deep green eyes, her youth, her energy, her laughter. I decided to go for it.
I grabbed the big round red pencil and got the grainy tablet paper ready. I wrote: Miss Betty, don’t tell this, or it won’t come true. I wish it on the star. I wish it on birthday candles. I want to fly. Like Superman. I wear a towel and run down hills but I never take off. It doesn’t work. I think happy thoughts but I don’t take off. So I want to fly. Like Superman. Like Peter Pan. Don’t ever tell, ok?
I turned in the paper with some apprehension. And I kept watching Miss Betty as she was reading the papers and we were doing an arithmetic exercise. I kept looking up. She saw me and smiled. I continued arithmetic and continued looking up. Finally I knew she had my paper, because she saw me looking, smiled, and nodded. I looked down. When I looked up again, she beckoned me into the hallway. There she gave me a big hug and whispered into my ear, “I’ll not tell. Not ever.”
And–amazing and wonderful! I got my wish. Miss Betty was hugging me and telling me what I needed to hear, and I was flying! Like Superman!
Listening. My friend Mike Evans in Denver is a jazz trumpeter, who plays in a group, LOST SOUL. Last week his wife Penny sent me a CD of a concert recorded live at El Chapultepec Too! in 2008. I went to several of the concerts, and I am pretty sure I was there. Each of the eleven cuts is excellent. My favorite is “Coffee Song Meets St. Thomas,” a take on the famous “Coffee Song,” (“They’ve got an awful lot of coffee in Brazil.”) I smile each time the intro starts. This group, trumpet, piano, vocals, bass, drums/percussion is first-rate, and I will continue to enjoy this CD. Learning to listen to jazz expanded my musical awareness. I don’t know why we ever teach young students that in 4/4 time, there are four beats to each measure. Jazz shows otherwise.
Reading. The Princess of Cleves (1678) by Madame de Lafayette. In Seven French Short Novel Masterpieces, introduction by Henri Peyre, Popular Library, 1965. No translator credited. I remember buying this book when I was taking a survey course in French literature at Wake Forest. A group of us had been assigned to read Andre Gide’s Pastoral Symphony, and the professor advocated our reading the French text along side an English translation. I have kept the book because it contained the book by Gide and Flaubert’s A Simple Heart. I decided to read the earliest work. The setting is in the French court in its various venues during the reign of Henri II in the mid-1500’s. The life consists of parties, balls, tournaments, hunts, and romantic intrigues. The plot concerns the Princess, her husband, and her lover, the most handsome bachelor in the realm, Monsieur de Nemours. It is a psychological study, and even though the setting is in a time and place for which we have little frame of reference, we understand and feel for the characters, living a life that provides for many no happiness. The book shows “. . . the misery that overtakes women who fall into these entanglements,” including “. . . the perils of correspondence.” The Princess decides to be true to herself and not to the expectations of the court. The last sentence: “Her life, which was not long, furnished examples of the loftiest virtue.” Yes, and no happiness. (Quotations directly from novel)
Here are four quotations that indicate some truth of human behavior then and now. (1) “Persons in love are always glad of any excuse for talking about the object of their affection.” (2) “. . . it is impossible for a man to control his heart by force of will..” (3) “The vaguest words of a man one likes produce more emotion than the open declaration of a man one does not like.” (4) ” . . . a pleasant truth is readily believed.”
Thank you for reading. I hope your week will be good.