March 30, 2007
It has been a busy week. A good week, as far as the sum total goes . . . but an eventful week, for sure. The week of the lions. I hope to elaborate more on this when I snatch a few writing minutes this weekend. But for now, the occasion of seeing the sunset [recent days have prevented even this], more than merits its own post, I believe. You can be the judge, but I suspect that this shot will make up for my lack of posts this week . . .
March 25, 2007
It was a moment that froze itself in my memory—a still frame of sorts, marked in its exquisitely ordinary coming about.
The sun was blazing, but nearing its late afternoon waning point, as I walked to the neighboring compound. My intention was to meet up with Purity on the way, as I knew she was planning to attend my Women’s Study that evening.
Getting to the village itself, I instead began to search for her home, not knowing yet which was her house. I did know, however, that my three pupils had come to the village with her, for a Sunday afternoon visit; this knowledge made me suspect that it would not be terribly difficult to find them. My suspicion was correct.
Spotting a small congregation of brown heads, I shielded my eyes to get a better look; then I smiled to myself as I headed towards the telltale crowd of curious children. Sure enough, I soon also spotted three very blond heads in their midst.
But then I realized what was happening, and I was stopped short in pleasant amazement: There stood my nine-year-old young charge patiently teaching “Into My Heart,” in sign language, to all the village children. These youngsters, from two years of age on up to twelve, were all painstakingly copying her motions and repeating each word she dictated.
Catching sight of me then, Eva summoned me over to help [though I was thrilled to notice that she knew it perfectly, after only 2 days of us working on it during our school day lessons!]. She wanted me to sing it, being too shy herself to sing out loud for them all. So I sang and signed, to a chorus of heavily accented echoes, as the sun set over the river behind us.
From the mouths of babes . . .
Strange how the most memorable moments of learning, in my life, have often come about outside of [and perhaps in spite of] all my school day plannings and lesson preparations.
March 21, 2007
March 19, 2007
March 14, 2007
If I had ever labored under illusions of any real scientific giftedness, I would have probably aspired to be an astronomer. But I had no such illusions and so no such aspirations. I did, however, pursue as much knowledge about astronomy as I could justify in my undergraduate studies.
And so it was with great delight that I finally did something I have been meaning to do since before arriving in this hemisphere several months ago: I studied the proper constellations and then located my first of the constellations visible only from this part of the world: The Southern Cross. It is a small but distinct diamond that can be found closer to the horizon in a line that runs diagonal to Orion’s left shoulder.
I should also confess that I was ignorantly surprised that Orion was easily visible here—I guess since I was so familiar with his distinctive presence, I thought he was a more northern constellation . . .
Also of interest to me here has been the brilliant presence of Venus each clear night—she shines brightly well before other stars show their nocturnal faces. And my youngest pupil has an inexplicable but quite delightful name for this planet; she is always quick to point out “The Fairy Star” when she appears :-)
March 13, 2007
March 8, 2007
March 5, 2007
It occurred to me today that I may have hit a point of no return, after which I will never be able to return to the confines of a “normal” school curriculum–I am falling in love with the freedom of my schoolhouse setting. This afternoon we went on a bug walk, thanks to a day of being a bit ahead of schedule with our day’s goals. Armed with only a blank notebook and pencil, we took off on a makeshift path through the grasses behind the schoolhouse. We first experimented with “owl ears,” a trick I learned back when I was the Nature Teacher for summer camp; by imitiating the shape of owl’s super-ears, cupping your hands behind your ears, you can noticeably improve your ability to hear the sounds around you. This makes for great fun when you close your eyes and see how many different animal sounds you can pick out as you listen.
Then it was time for tracking “bugs,” just open to seeing what we could find. I told them, as an intro, of the man I met in the jungles of Ecuador, whose house was filled with jars of brand new species of bugs. He lived so deep in the jungle that the village was only accessible via plane. After our Cessna landed on the strip, he greeted us and proudly showed off all the insects that he had been classifying over the years. After each discovery, he would report his findings to the insect experts [I’m afraid I forget who this was], who would confirm if it was truly an as-of-yet undiscovered variety. It turns out that there are in fact a great many creatures, especially out in such remote areas, that are still waiting to be “discovered” and properly classified.
Admittedly, my crew this afternoon had no such aspirations ☺ We did, however, happily observe several interesting insects and butterflies. Carefully sketching them and noting colors, size, and such, we eventually returned back to the school. A book of the insects of Rhodesia in our library allows for reasonable accuracy in pinpointing the species.
And so the first entry of hopefully many future Bushwalks is now carefully noted in our “Bushwalk Journal!”