Quotidian Update 305.a.iii

Well, here I am almost 2 hours earlier than normal because there was a draconian thunderstorm at 5:30 am. Thunderstorms are hard on Bear because she is afraid of thunder AND she feels she has to protect me. For Bear, that’s Gordian knot. I was fine until the power went off. If you’ve lived through a California wildfire, you might also be traumatized when the power goes off. To me it means, “Things are majorly fucked and you’d better get out.” Then there’s added terror of “what if I can’t make coffee?” When the power comes on, it’s “Thank you Whomever,” and the added gratitude for first world problems like scared dogs and no coffee.

Yesterday Teddy and I took off for the river, a shady trail I like in summer, but can only walk from July 15 to March 1. Last time I was there it was February. It’s in a wildlife area and, this year, Colorado is requiring a hunting or fishing license for people who use these areas just for walking. I bought my fishing license a while back. The Rio Grande is very low. I saw a gold finch catching bugs above the river and a hawk took flight in front of me. Otherwise, it was a path between immense cottonwoods and the tired undergrowth of the end of summer. I told Teddy I like the Refuge better. I like being able to SEE. That might be part of why I like winter when the trees are bare.

In other news, a few months ago I bought a book for the kids, a book of “general knowledge.” It’s really cool with beautiful pictures and little flaps you lift to learn more. Around 5 o’clock I took it to their house because school starts tomorrow, and I wanted to make a big deal out of it.


They loved it. C helped me walk Bear to the end of the fence and Bear and I finished our walk. On the way back, the kids were waiting. We all went into the alley so M could keep working on her “courage” merit badge. There’s not really a badge, but one of the statements in the book Bear and Teddy — wrote for her is, “Smart people are brave. They get to pet and hug us.” She was a little scared as always, but Bear sat calmly and before long, all was well.

Their world is really small right now so even the alley behind their house is a kind of adventure. C has all kinds of questions about the house behind theirs — the blue house I came to Monte Vista to see so long ago. Then he noticed something unusual in the alley. “What is that?”

“Pottery, I think,” I said.

He got a stick and pried it out “like a jack,” he said using the stick as a lever. He got the two pieces of pottery loose. They were glazed dark brown and had two circles and some lines on them. I believe they are ancient (meaning maybe 60 years old) sewer pipes but I didn’t say that. I showed him how they fit together and he was amazed. He wanted to know how it was made, so I explained it.

“Maybe there used to be a pottery place here.”

“Could be. This is a pretty old place.”

“I’m going to take some of that clay you gave us and press it on this and maybe I can find out what the letters are.” He’s 7.

“Perfect,” I said. “Let me know what you find out.

“If mom would let us, we could walk Bear all the way to your house,” he said. “I don’t know why she won’t let us.”

“She loves you,” I said. I thought of the absurdity. They could walk with me to my house but I’d have to walk them back home. It would be an infinite loop.

“Yeah,” he said. “Maybe she thinks someone would steal us like they tried to steal our trailer and they stole your wood. Do you think it’s the same people?”

“Could be.” In fact NOT having that faded cedar fencing is kind of a hardship to the furthering of my garden sign business.

I headed home on cloud 8 or maybe higher, thinking of that adage, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” But ME?

Then I thought of my first student ever. Ramon Hurtado who wanted to learn to read so he could read to his daughter. He came to the then-new Adult Education Tutorial Program. I’d never taught anyone. It was the summer before I started grad school. We started with the alphabet! He wanted what I had; literacy. Just like Ramon, these kids want what I have and it means a lot in our Covid circumscribed lives. They want the world.

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21 thoughts on “Quotidian Update 305.a.iii

  1. I love your conversations with the dogs, and with the kids. How powerful they are! And the kids are so curious and so bright! I’m sorry Bear doesn’t like thunderstorms — we seldom have them here, and I’m always intrigued but a little frightened by them!

    • I loved it when I lived in CA and we had a thunderstorm. They were more common up in Descanso, but still nothing like here. The mountains make them (my theory…)

  2. Actually, I think Bear has a ‘Guardian’ knot. 🙂

    Power outages are indeed first world problems. But because we depend on power for heat and cooling or some times of the year, they can still be serious. Need a plan B (that won’t kill you with carbon monoxide) for when it drops below zero, like in Michigan where I grew up.

    Our “average” high temperature in August should be around 87. I don’t think we’ve had an actual daytime high that low since June. This year we completely skipped May grey and June gloom. Didn’t happen. We can usually count on at least one rainy day each month from coastal eddys and summer monsoons. Didn’t happen.

    Just saw the weather report and it’s going to be another hot one this weekend, over 110F again. Usually it only gets that hot here briefly, a day here a day there – but damn! Almost the entire months of July and August were that way. This is the first break we’ve had since June, “comfortable” temperatures in the mid-90s. A least our desert tortoise doesn’t seem to mind it.

    You may have got out of SoCal just in time.

    Having those youngsters to mentor (?) is obviously a source of great joy. I imagine it is a tiny bit like having grandchildren. One of the blessings of small-town life.

    I don’t see that happening here. Neighbors don’t interact as much and there’s more mistrust. Over the summer the kids are all scheduled up for assorted activities. The free time to just be kids that we had is a lot less common.

    • The last few years I lived in CA I waited for it to cool down to 90 so I could ride the bike to nowhere. The last summer — when I was packing to move — I was getting up at 4 am so I could work while it was still cool. The climate changed dramatically in the 11 years I lived in Descanso. Hotter temps, more fires.

  3. One of the things I miss in my current living situation – an over-55 community – is seeing and interacting with kids. A walk around the block used to include little chats and such. Your connection with those 2 children is precious (and important) to all of you. We’ve set records here for how many heat waves we’ve had this summer. Back in the day, we didn’t have air conditioning. I am most grateful for it now. Love your new header photo. 🙂

  4. Ranger was terrified of storms. It got to the point that we’d bring him into the bedroom so that he’d feel safe with his people. Of course when he got old and deaf they didn’t bother him and he’d sleep through…
    Once a teacher, always a teacher. I love the conversation and the curiosity of the kids. Those kinds of books are always intriguing. I still have one on my bookshelf of Desert Animals. It has seen better days but both my boys loved that book. I imagine they memorized it!

    • That’s so cool. I hope these kids like the book I gave them as much. Bear practically tore down my bedroom door and when I let her in, it wasn’t enough. I’d have let her up on my bed (a big no no), but she was just busy freaking out. Sometimes I give her 12 mg Acepromazine, but this morning that was not possible. It works.

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