In this last memoir of 4th grade, I want to talk about what every student knew about Ms. Nelson. What was most remembered of Ms. Nelson, by every class she had, was her love of animals and especially birds. While in her class we sent off letters to wildlife organizations to implore them to save the whales. We made our own insect nets and marched the fields around the school and our own backyards catching and showing off our finds under homemade displays. We spent the first marking period of fourth grade science looking for insects and learning all we could about them.
Then we put our science books in our desks and never got them out again, because the rest of the year we studied birds. That's it. We didn't spend much time on anything else, just birds.
It was amazing.
I realize now that Ms. Nelson didn't just love her students. It wasn't simply her care and attention that made her memorable to us. She seemed to have an ability to challenge us that made us do things we didn't know we could do. I loved every afternoon when she read to us. We were sweaty, mussy, distracted and tired after the mid day recess. She knew we wouldn't respond to demands during that part of the day, she lead us to sit, to rest and to relax while she read "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" and "Where the Sidewalk Ends" to our eager ears.
Once upon a time there was a beautiful teacher named Patricia Nelson. She had thick, dark hair, a bright smile that produced dimples on her cheeks and sparkles in her brown eyes. She was slender and seemed confident just by the way she carried herself. She wasn't afraid to tell jokes, tear up over a story or let a classroom of 4th graders wander away with their imaginations lit up far beyond the subject at hand.
I've been reading L.M.Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series. I'm almost done with the third one. If I begin writing a little too flowery, that's why. I lifted my head from the book this morning and thought, "I'm afrost with delight o'er the thought of what will be accomplished today."
It's really similar to picking up an accent after talking over the phone with one of my Michigan relatives. It is suddenly who I am. Sadly, "afrost" isn't even a word, but it felt like one after reading that book for a while, and I can easily give you a definition.
1. covered over by something temporary, delicate and beautiful.
2. having an identifying glow bespeaking anticipation of what's to come or what has been.
I stepped outside the church on a Monday afternoon after getting some papers signed for my kids to go to church camp. We were under the awning, waiting for the rain to let up so we could run to the car. A woman was standing there, she had attended a funeral in the building earlier in the day and was trying her best to hide the cigarette in her hand so my boys wouldn’t see her. I said hello and she immediately explained how bad she felt smoking… at a church… in front of kids… “I’m just so ashamed.”
We talked for a little while, and though I wasn’t concerned about her hiding her cigarette, I was grateful to her for caring what my kids saw.
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