Monday, April 12, 2010

Tulip kisses and tsunamis

The Jesuit priest who sometimes led the children's mass at the Catholic elementary school (where I started my teaching career) caused a ripple of twitters to go through the church when he said that tulips always made him think of kisses.  It was during the spring that he made this remark, and the tulips were blooming beautifully everywhere you turned.  This statement and the rest of his homily on the poetry of tulips, kisses, and spring spread panic among the middle school teachers who were responsible for the (hormonal) middle school students.  They spent the rest of the school day disputing the homily, in this case saying that the church was clearly mistaken, trying to squelch the kissing theme tsunami that Father Gino had started with his alarmingly innocent remarks. 

In an effort to earn an honest living, I have been in the midst of such classroom tsunamis many times:  attempting to lead our precious flock alongside calm waters, getting all the young heads bent over their math worksheets focused and working quietly, and then, bam, a crow flies into the window.  The easily distracted kids are instantly out of their seats peering out the window to see the poor bird and the rest are now loudly telling anyone who would listen every bird or loud noise or window story that they can think of.  I as the shepherd, I mean, the teacher, spend the next ten minutes trying to re-establish calm and re-motivate the flock to keep on working.

This brings me to my most recent scheme for fame and fortune.  I will write a best selling book, and here's how I came up with the idea. I was in the humble position of substitute librarian for an elementary school a couple of weeks ago, and the cute little second graders had come in for their libary time.  They were seated quietly at my feet (criss cross hands on lap) gazing up at me while I was showing them a poster and talking up the imminent Book Fair. Suddenly, all hell broke loose because a little blond haired rascal in the back row "emitted gas," (intentionally or not is up for debate.)  The first wave is the kids around him suddenly scooting away, laughing and pointing to make it clear that they didn't do it, while he sat there red-faced and obvious, vainly trying to pretend that he wasn't the source. The second wave is kids holding their noses and casting aspersions as the malodorous cloud passed spread over the room.  This activity catches on until I have to ask all the students to take their hands away from their nose and turn towards me. Unfortunately, at that point, no matter what the teacher does, the kids are paying attention only to the stink bomb.  So strong is the tribal response to farting that I, as a teacher, could stand on my head and click my heels together and they would not have noticed.  Hence my inspiration came for the title of the book:  "How To Deal With A Fart And Other Classroom Tsunamis."  (Progress on this book is...slow.)

While anticipating fame and fortune, Lynne and Winnie and I had a spectacular field trip to Skagit County (about 30 miles south of Bellingham) to see the tulip fields in bloom on Friday (thus returning the reader to paragraph one).  Skagit County has an expansive agricultural valley where tulips are grown commercially, bounded on the west by the Salish Sea and on the east by the Cascade Mountains, so when you walk among the quiet rows of thousands of vibrant purple, or red, or yellow, or pink tulips, planted in ribbons of color, you only have shift your gaze to the horizon to see the snow covered mountains.  The tulips are raised for their bulbs, rather than to sell the cut flowers, so the flowers are left to bloom fully in the fields.  It truly is a tsunami of brilliant color! Here are some of the views that we had, including yours truly and our family.

Many tulip kisses and happy spring, from Sky, Lynne and Winnie!


  1. Delightful, as always! Waiting for the book and missing you guys so much!

  2. Thanks, Connie. Now I actually have to write it!