Driving Home Under a Slate Gray Sky

I expected to be in school today.  Yesterday, the snow plow came through and tore through the snow, making huge waves of dirty snow along the edges of the street.  As the day warmed, the snow retreated, puddles collected, the asphalt attempted to dry.

I told my kids to wash their laundry, charge their Chrome books, make sure their books were packed.

And then the phone rang.  As much as my street and cul-de-sac were cleared, the schools were still packed under snow.

I deliberately hid the information from my kids simply because I am not a nice mother and thought it would be fun to string them out just a little.  It worked, for a while.  But they had pretty much figured it out because my kids must be psychic or they can read the smoke signals being sent into the sky by crabin-feverstruck parents whose children must be going wild.

I wonder what SOS smoke signals would look like…I’m really good at tapping it out in morse code.  Every now and then, the math teacher on the other side of the wall will start tapping and I wonder if he’s sending me a message…

Help me…I can’t write a grammatically correct formula…


What’s the square root of the Hippopotamus angle when combined with an ostrich?

In my world, that’s math.  So I’ll tap S-O-S back at him to let him know that I hear him, can hear his desperate taps and that I’ll come over in just a minute.

Apparently, I was mis-reading his signals.  He’s just a “heavy tapper” as other teachers call him.

When I learned that, I decided to start doing rap-tap free styling as a response.  His students didn’t care for it.  I think.  I don’t know.  When they blitzkrieged the white board to tap back in response, I was standing in the doorway laughing at the mirth I had caused.

I’m kind of like that.

Today was about grading more paper and more paper and more papers.  I assigned a two-page persuasive essay to my tenth graders.  One student wrote a twenty page paper about the refugee crisis.  I told her that I would stop grading at twenty.  She originally had twenty-two but finally stopped because I really wasn’t going to grade more than twenty.  I was advised by other teachers to only grade the first two pages, but since I had made a statement about how I would grade up to twenty, I felt obligated to grade all twenty.

It took me two days.

Because I would grade two pages of her essay and then the entirety of another student’s essay before returning to hers.  I had to find a way to keep my mind fresh.

Over the course of five days, I have done the same puzzle three times.  I actually found the missing puzzle piece and then lost a different piece and managed to find it.  I went from completing the puzzle in roughly ten to twelve hours to getting it done in five and a half.  I timed myself.  I could have gone faster but I ran out of good light to see the color nuances so I tried using a head lamp.

Anything that wasn’t grading or looking at computer screens or any form of screens.  And after all the grading I had done, I didn’t even want to read.

So, puzzles.

Given that today has been lovely and warm, I figured that we would certainly return to work tomorrow.

Another phone call.  Another day off.  In talking with my German teacher friend, I learned that his street still hasn’t been plowed, and since he lives at the bottom of a hill, he knew that attempting to drive would do nothing more than cause a terrible accident.

However, since my road had been plowed and the main streets around me were clean, I knew I needed to escape.  I don’t have cabin fever. I  have a migraine from staring at a screen almost all day.  Even my fingers and the muscles surrounding my fingers ache from typing and typing and typing.  I keep on correcting students’ usage of passive voice, wordiness, repetition, and redundancy which is ironic given my current writing style of discussing the same thing while using the same palette of words.

Sorry, dear reader, if I am boring you.

I needed something new to distract me, and I decided that doing a new puzzle would be fun and lovely.  So away I went down sodden streets that will turn to ice tonight because everything will refreeze no matter how much melting has occurred.  And while I was away, the sun steadily fell towards the horizon and when I came out of the last store that actually had a puzzle I wanted to do, the sky was awash with slate grays and neutral pinks.

In the lack of color, I found a sense of quiet peace that counteracted the mild frustrations of passive voice and illogical arguments.   As I strolled to my car, splashing through puddles (I never really grew up), I caught sight of a small V-formation of geese while the wind stirred from its little corner of the world and spun itself over to me.

Everything lifted, for just a moment.  Since I have been immersed in grading and reading and editing, I have been feeling rather blasé.  I’m not complaining.  I would be stupid to complain about the fact that I have been home and finally been given the chance to do all the work that I have been meaning to do but am generally too exhausted to complete at night when I finally have a chance to do the work that needs to be done.

But when I’m in the cycle of read, edit, grade, read, edit, grade, read, edit, grade, the world becomes this amorphous, blurry mess of slushy, dewy grays that melt from one seriffed letter to another.

And I forget the incredible beauty that is just on other other side windows that are only three feet away from me.  Even with my curtains drawn back and the sunlight spilling across my desk, I am forgetful that I am part of this world and am taking my blessed existence for granted.

I got in my car and followed the road and kept my eyes on the shifting grays of the sky, on the deep heather-gray clouds banking on the edge of the horizon, and how the clouds met the rows of trees to disappear into a burgeoning night sky.

I felt time fall away to the sound of my car tires lightly humming on the wet pavement, and I lived in a quiet bubble of muted colors and dim voices.  And for a moment, it was just me and this slick, gentle movement up a hill and under traffic lights that stood out in sharp contrast to a monochrome sky.

I love these moments, when I finally stop and look up and just see the simplicity of life:  a v of geese heading for their night’s home, a light gray sky muffled by possible rain clouds, water rippling away from my feet.

The sound of the wind unfurling against the pavement, tumbling up my back, and whispering about spring into my ear.

Yeah, I’m still enjoying my snow days, but the promise of what’s ahead is tantalizing and joyful.

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