Monday, September 28, 2009

Aint No Thing ... a remembrance

A classmate of a former student of mine who passed away a few years back contacted me about collecting remembrances of him to share with the family. Here's what I wrote:

I’m pretty sure it was my first teaching at LHS. The course was Mass Communications, if I remember right. Roy Booth sat in the back row of my classroom. It was first period, early for all of us to be sure, but it seemed especially early for Roy who would often show up with a five o’clock shadow and a cup of joe. He seemed older than most of the other kids. He had one foot planted solidly outside the school in another world, an adult world of work and experience. Roy kept a low profile in my class, an arrangement that suited both of us. He didn’t have a whole lot of use for the academic side of things, but he never let that interfere with what was going on in the classroom. His was a live and let live sense of life.

At some point in the course I assigned each student the task of making an oral presentation. The prompt escapes me now, but Roy chose for his subject wood cutting tools. I remember the day Roy was to give his speech. He showed up with an axe. These were the 70’s, and that sort of thing could still happen without anyone giving it too much thought. Even so, I remember watching Roy unsheathe that thing, and how the class fell silent, all eyes on him and on that beautiful bladed thing in his hands. He handled it with ease, almost nonchalantly. He spoke off handedly about the work of wood cutting. He hadn’t crafted a speech, there was no discernable intro or conclusion, yet there was an unmistakable air of authority. His husky voice and his unvarnished words carried weight, even as his hands deftly balanced the axe before us.

He spoke of the importance of keeping blades sharp, of how dull blades make work unnecessarily hard and even dangerous. He then took the axe, slid one hand up the handle just below the head and laid its blade edge on his forearm. He angled the steel and pushed. We all leaned in for a better view. The dark hairs on his muscled arm gathered the way a powder does when pushed by a razor on a glass mirror. When he lifted the blade, we saw a patch of skin, clean shaven, a clear cut about the size of a playing card. Roy lightly brushed the blade clean. He put it away, as if to say, “Aint no thing.”

But we knew better. Roy had a hold of something that most of us could not and would never understand. It was more than he could explain in words maybe, but he had it nonetheless. And for a few magical seconds, we watched; we listened.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Going Up (cont.)

Tess discovered a climbing wall this weekend. I wasn't sure she'd go for this. Boy was I wrong.

Her first time on it she went straight to the top. Then she did it again...and again. Each round trip was shorter as she gained confidence going up and down. Colm went up too, but it didn't capture his fancy quite the way it did for his sister.

p.s. I know I'm not blogging at the rate I used to. I am however, playing my guitar every day, and I'm putting the finishing touches on a play I wrote this past summer...just so you know.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Going Up

and growing so many ways. I was in the back yard the other day and looked up just in time to see Tess scaling the rope under the walnut tree.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wood to burn

Early in the summer Beth's parents and I cut and split a bunch of wood on Cricket Flats and left it there to cure. This past weekend we loaded about five cords of firewood into the back of their pickup and a rented trailor and we hauled them home to unload and stack. We'll probably do it again in October and call it good.

Beautiful day; good excercise, fresh air and the satisfaction of knowing that there will be fire.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Country boys

Colm, Sammy, and I are home alone this weekend. Beth and Tess have gone to Portland. City girls and country boys. We boys played golf first. I let Colm work the video camera and record my swing. He enjoyed that enormously, showing a marked inclination toward the dutch angle.

I shot some vid of him too and then we reviewed our work, both the cinematography and the golf. Watching my swing caused me to make some pretty fundamental adjustments. (today we played again, the results were encouraging). We played nine holes with John and his daughter Rosie. Sometimes Colm would hit a ball and then just light out after it in his flip flops like a hound after a rabbit. If people played golf like that they'd get a different work out for sure.

After the round was finished we said goodbye to our friends and took Sammy to go fishing on Catherine Creek. This was Colm's first solo effort fly casting on a stream. It was late afternoon; the air was still and fresh, the stream cool, the riffles filled my head with a steady thrushing sound. It's fairly tight quarters for fly casting but I found a flat rock for Colm to stand on. He was able to avoid getting tangled up there. I caught a little rainbow trout (not on video) and let Colm land it. I stood back and just watched him. One of those times I felt like stretching time as far as it would allow. Colm, he done good. See for yourself.

After we were done, Colm asked me if we could go back to the golf course and practice putting. We did that until the sun began to drop behind the hills. We drove the old pickup home across the valley. Then we grabbed a burger and fries and went to the drive-in to see Ice Age. All in all, a pretty good start to the country boys' long weekend.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Life imitating art

Com has been improvising some funny outfits lately. Here he's found a pirate hat and some boots belonging to his mother. He's looking for a rope in hopes of transforming himself into a cowboy. I'm not sure how the whistle fits in though I'm sure it does in his mind. This unchoreographed pose struck a chord, however faint, in my memory. Remember Donatello's David? The one who supposedly slew Goliath? I don't know who's more convincing, Colm the cowboy or David the giant-slayer.

Colm hits first grade

The nest is officially empty (during the school day) now. Our beamish boy has joined our glittering girl on the daily treadmill to school. Colm is ready. He sees what he's got to do.Tess has blazed the trail before him, and she'll be a boon to him, I think. He still admires his sister above everyone else. His teacher will be one of my former high school students...yet another benchmark of some kind. I'm afraid the reminders of time passing just keep piling up.

The traditional sign making and photo op, followed by the walk.

Beth now walks with them to school in the morning. Sammy comes along, and once in awhile they pick up a friend or two on the way, in this case Owen. I will miss the morning walks with Tess to school. Changes.

Summer's lease...

A few shots of summer fun. Even though the bus isn't running anymore, it's still the fun house for the kids. Just add water.