Saturday, April 22, 2017

Spring


"Yesterday the twig was brown and bare; Today the glint of green is there; Tomorrow will be leaflets spare; I know no thing so wondrous fair, No miracle so strangely rare.  I wonder what will next be there!"  --Liberty Hyde Bailey

Spring has again graced our community.  Our side of the earth faces the sun and we smile.  Those of us in education, both students and teachers, look toward the coming of summer and a time for rest from the daily grind and hard work of school.  As much as I love summer, I find myself lingering and enjoying this spring season more than I remember.  Perhaps as I grow older, new life seems a bit more elusive and sacred.  Perhaps this past winter seemed unusually dark and foreboding.  At any rate, whether it is due to my aging or the darkness of last season, I find myself seeing this spring with new eyes of wonder and filling me with renewed hope.

We have studied many cycles in fourth grade this year . . . the rock cycle, the water cycle, life cycles, the cycle of the earth around the sun and the earth spinning on its axis from day to night and back to day.  Our plant is filled with cycles.  Volcanos spew out new rocks from melted ancient rocks.  Water evaporates into the sky and returns to us in the spring rains.  The earth turns toward the sun and the producers of this world turn from brown to green.  The various consumers of this world build nests for their young, fill the air with various mating and territory calls and in general, make a mad scramble to care for the future generations that will need to survive a winter that is sure to return.  Our planet is always in motion toward a place it has been before and yet it has never seen.  Every spring something brand new will grow and every winter something newly old will die.  It's a pretty amazing planet.

Our bulb garden partitioned off as an array.
My students and I went out looking for and recording signs of spring a couple of weeks ago.  We studied our bulb plot during math one day last week (measuring area, perimeter and flowers).  I'm taking all the fourth graders (group by group) out to look for decomposers, producers and consumers.  I wish we could spend more time out in the fields and woods.  I hope students take time on their own in their backyards.  Next week, my students will write letters to our representative, Beth Griffin, in favor of making the monarch our state insect (last year the bill was presented, but due to the time limit and the summer break, the bill expired).  This past fall, we raised several monarchs from eggs to caterpillars and then butterflies in our classroom.  We also made milkweed seed bombs with some of the seeds we collected in our schoolyard.  Perhaps some of those seeds will sprout this spring.  We are trying to encourage both milkweed plants and monarch butterflies in our small corner of the world.  I have been looking closely for sprouting milkweed, knowing that when the milkweed is up and thriving, the monarchs will return.  I am hoping that before we break for summer, my students and I will again see monarch butterflies return and find monarch eggs and larvae.  Last fall, we actually had the rare opportunity to watch a newborn caterpillar (moments old) eating its first meal, the egg.  We also watched the spinning of a chrysalis and a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.  Those moments still linger in my mind and perhaps, in the minds of my students.  This spring brings the promise of seeing those processes again, and the cycle continues. . .
    
A monarch raised in our class last fall.
It is wonderful to find ourselves again in this new spring.  Perhaps we can make it a more inviting place for the monarchs and the milkweed, and in doing that, we will make a better place for ourselves.

Peace and Love.
 

"Come with me into the woods where spring is advancing, as it does, no matter what, not being singular or particular, but one of the forever gifts, and certainly visible."  --Mary Oliver, Dog Songs