Slice of Life: Alone On A Path Through The Woods By A Lake

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

Yesterday, due to circumstances,  I found myself hiking an unknown path all alone (usually when I hike, my wife and/or sons are with me). The trail in this conservation area was well-maintained by some Eagle Scout, apparently, and there was no one else around. Nobody at all.

I stepped forward at a leisurely pace, wary of the bugs (ticks!) in this rainy season, and soon was lost in thought as the path wound around what the maps called a pond but which was clearly a large lake. The high water levels cut off some connected trails, leading me to interesting dead ends and views of the water, before I was forced to circle back and continue on an alternative route.

The only distraction was noise from a nearby highway. But birds out-whistled cars at points, and the farther I went in, the farther away I was from the noise pollution. I took a chance on an unmarked path at one point, and felt a little lost, but used the water as my navigation point, and eventually circled back to known terrain.

Hike and lake

Why am I writing this? Quiet moments may not have a lot of drama, but they force you to notice the world. I could also easily dig deeper into what I just wrote — on the surface, about a solo hike — and find metaphorical points with which to climb. But I won’t. I’ll just leave it as a hike in the woods by a lake. The perfect kind of summer Slice of Life, I think.

Peace (in the terrain),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Poems for Planet Earth

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

A few weeks ago, I noticed a “call for artists” through our local public library, for an exhibit they were pulling together about healing, health and the state of our planet. They were seeking videos, art and writing. Intrigued, I decided to try my hand at some poems — five short poems — with environmental themes, and I sent them in, and then I forgot all about it (as I am apt to do).

The other day, I found out that the library art gallery had accepted three of the five poems I sent in for its “In This Together: Virtual Exhibit on Planetary and Human Health” display. I feel honored to be among the 41 local artists (some of the other pieces in the collection are really amazing to look at — particularly the visual artworks).

This is from the gallery description:

As we emerge slowly from the Covid-19 pandemic, we reflect on how it has changed us, the environment we live in, and our outlook. While our societies and our world are still in the midst of enormous changes, how do we feel about our role? How has the past year impacted how we relate to the environment and to each other? Have our priorities changed?

abstract photo by Faith Kaufmann

via Hosmer Gallery, Northampton, MA

My three poems can be found here, here and here.

As a poet writing daily throughout the Pandemic, I noticed the act of writing has often been rather lonely. (Maybe that always is the case for poets, but the isolation of the lockdowns seemed to make it even more so). I like the idea of a few of my words being part of a local community collective effort to think on the changing Earth, and how the Pandemic is influencing that thinking, that wonder, that warning. To see my words mingled in with other media and art feels right, and satisfying.

I’m not naive. I don’t think poems or poets can change the world. A few verses won’t change policy. Stanzas don’t scale up.

But writing poems can change the poet who writes those poems, I believe, and the time I spent composing the five pieces gave me a chance to sit with the ideas, to mull things over, and try to capture some thoughts that will help me in my own small actions, each day. There were threads across the five pieces that I know are there, threads I made visible to myself that connect to how I can and should view this world we are caretakers of.

What more can a writer do?

Peace (in poems and planets),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Hold On To The Positive (Comic)

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

This is a comic slice, the latest edition to my collection of comics I have been making since the Pandemic began as a way to deal with the turmoil. With this school year over, I am in reflective mode.

Hold On To The Positive

Peace (in panels),
Kevin

Slice of Life: This Is How The School Year Ends

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

In the short but provocative novel Flying Solo by Ralph Fletcher, the classroom of sixth graders has a tradition that they enact whenever someone is set to leave the class during the school year (either by moving or some other event). They conduct a Rock Ritual. The way it works is that the student who is leaving chooses a mineral or stone from a class collection, and then each classmates passes the rock around the circle, telling stories of the student who is leaving. That student takes the rock with them, with the idea that the rock has collected the words, stories and memories.

When we read Flying Solo in the middle of the year, my class of sixth graders all asked if we could do our own version of the Rock Ritual at the end of this crazy Covid year. I said yes, of course, and this morning, on our last day together, we will gather in the classroom to have our ritual (using Ring Pops instead of rocks).

Yesterday, we spent part of our morning with a sheet of all of their names, writing down ideas for the stories we would tell.  (Frequent Question: Can we write about ourselves? Answer: Of course). You should have heard the noise and laughter, and sharing, even though I suggested we wait until today’s actual Ritual to share (this is a rather boisterous and louder-than-usual class of sixth graders that is relentless in its socializing).

I’ll have to circle around another day to really reflect on this year of teaching and learning in the Pandemic, and all that I have learned and wished I had learned, and everything else. For now, I will settle into a final act of Community in the Classroom, as we tell stories of our time together in a year like no other.

Peace (and tradition),
Kevin

Slice of Life: One Final Sentence (as prose poem)

(The Slice of Life Challenge in March has been hosted by Two Writing Teachers as way to encourage teachers-as-writers. There is also a monthly call for Slices on Tuesdays. You can write then, too)

Every Sentence that’s been a Slice has narrowed my writer’s focus to single small moments of time and yet, in constructing the days in this constrained way, each string of words inadvertently left out much more than I could say.

Peace (as prose and poem),
Kevin

Slice of Life/Day in a Sentence: In Spring Jim

(The Slice of Life Challenge in March is hosted by Two Writing Teachers as way to encourage teachers-as-writers. You can join in, if you want. There is also a monthly call for Slices on Tuesdays. You can write then, too)

Just as I saw him on his bike, and thought, there’s the first sign of Spring, Jim, a retired neighbor and friend and avid bike wanderer, pedals past me with a smile and a hand pointing at the patch of purple crocus, shouting: “The first signs of Spring!”

Peace (rolling forward),
Kevin

Slice of Life/Day in a Sentence: Peeking At The Underbelly

(The Slice of Life Challenge in March is hosted by Two Writing Teachers as way to encourage teachers-as-writers. You can join in, if you want. There is also a monthly call for Slices on Tuesdays. You can write then, too)

A rainy, dreary Sunday was broken up unexpectedly by a squirrel clinging upside down on the window screen of the living room, sparking a confused ruckus for the dogs and giving us all a closer look at the furry underbelly of a gray squirrel.

Peace (holding on),
Kevin

Slice of Life/Day in a Sentence: Cacophonic Symphony

(The Slice of Life Challenge in March is hosted by Two Writing Teachers as way to encourage teachers-as-writers. You can join in, if you want. There is also a monthly call for Slices on Tuesdays. You can write then, too)

It was the sound that caught our ears from a distance, the crowded chaotic cacophonic* symphony of peeper frogs singing forth their songs in the early Spring sun.

Peace (listening in),
Kevin

*might not be a real word, but it should be, if it isn’t

Slice of Life/Day in a Sentence: Building A Nest In What’s Left

(The Slice of Life Challenge in March is hosted by Two Writing Teachers as way to encourage teachers-as-writers. You can join in, if you want. There is also a monthly call for Slices on Tuesdays. You can write then, too)

We left the Christmas wreath hanging on the front door up a bit too long, as a sort of silent protest against the Pandemic, so two beautiful cardinals took advantage, burrowing down and building a nest in what’s left of last winter’s celebration.

Peace (in Spring),
Kevin

Slice of Life/Day in a Sentence: Sipping Rain From Stems

(The Slice of Life Challenge in March is hosted by Two Writing Teachers as way to encourage teachers-as-writers. You can join in, if you want. There is also a monthly call for Slices on Tuesdays. You can write then, too)

I always feel guilty as I tug the puppy forward on early morning walks, like the one this very morning, after a rainstorm when all she wants to do is sip every bead of water from every stem of grass and all I want to do is get myself home to start the day.

Peace (and puppies),
Kevin