Today I planned to plant more of our forest of baby trees -- pines, oaks and cedars. But first I set myself the task of raking up the messy litter of leaves and pine needles around the house and tidy up the raised beds. The sorry, sodden mess of dead flowers, vegetables and fallen leaves (the latter artfully concealing dog poop) was too ugly to try to ignore any longer. The good thing is that I got most of this done. The bad thing is that it took until after the sun had set and the stars were showing in the sky. It was a lot of leaves. And dog poop. And dead veggies. But now the area to the side of the house looks...presentable. I still need to finish clearing out the beds, pruning the roses and cutting back the flowering sage. The pomegranate tree needs pruning too and the raised beds still need some work. But we're getting there.
It was a good day to work outside. The little girl in my class who was in the car accident died yesterday -- Christmas Day. As I said, today was a good day to work outside. With the passing years and the passing of loved ones all along the way, I've become familiar with all the thoughts and emotions that a death brings. What makes this so different and difficult is knowing that today our principal called every parent of every child in the 4th grade to break the news. He is a remarkable and incredibly good man. Today 45 children will have their worlds changed forever and they will cry.
I thought about this while I raked, piled leaves in the cart and trundled it back and forth from the compost pile. There is no getting around the sorrow that seeps through everything right now, but through it all I know that all of the children will be alright. Counselors will be called in and there will be all sorts of support for all the students at our school. But I'm thinking about what I can do in my own classroom to honor the child that died and take care of the rest of my little flock. So far I'm considering planting flowering trees, bringing my fish tank in and perhaps having a cage of finches chirping and fluttering in the classroom. All of this sounds like such fluff in comparison with this tragedy, but I have hopes that such small things will somehow lighten hearts a bit. I expect us to write and talk and cry together. I'm getting ready to be the teacher I need to be. We'll be fine.