Saturday, September 10, 2011

Nature Comes Calling

I was away on August 23rd when an earthquake struck in Virginia.  When I got a call to ask me if I'd felt it, I had to admit that I hadn't because I'd been in the car for much of the day, but it had been felt here in the valley as well as in the western county where I was staying.

Five days later, Hurricane Irene hit Jersey, one state to the east.  We caught the edge of it and it came with some mighty winds and rain in biblical proportions.  Trees fell.  Big things got blown around.  Some folks were left without power for a week or longer as electric companies worked around the clock to restore service as fast as they claimed they could.  I was stuck taking the car to work instead of the scooter.

Roots and all came right up as Hurricane Irene's caboose rolled through.
Advance the clock a week and in came Tropical Storm Lee to further drench an already saturated northeastern Pennsylvania and cause catastrophic flooding throughout the valley and within feet of my own house.  With just about every other school district around for miles closed down tight for two days, mine stayed open.

Thank God for the arrival of the fall beers, just in time, at the local distributor!

My house is four doors away from here, but we didn't flood
in the" big one of '72" so the neighbors and I stayed put.
I generally mark the official arrival of winter by the closing of the gates at the county sports complex near the Forty Fort airport, and likewise I celebrate the arrival of spring, regardless of what the calendar says, by the opening of those same gates.  Today, on my approach to said portal, I was stopped in my tracks by this stretch of flooding.

Although a county pick-up truck went through the water on the roadway and made it to dry land further down, I wasn't going to risk trying to take the BV through it only to have it stall with me in the middle.  I don't know enough about internal combustion engines to know how deep water has to be before a scooter's engine might fail.

Here's hoping that nature will take her mischief to somewhere else for a while.  A week or so of pure sunshine would be much appreciated.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Happy New Year?

Last month, I believe, was my longest, official dry spell here.  

This was not the summer I had looked forward to as the dark, short days of the past winter began growing longer and lighter.  Not at all.  I did not measure it in scooter rides as I did the past few summers since I started riding on two wheels.  I measured too much of it in personal heartache and self-pity.

I had planned, as the freedom of summer vacation drew nigh, for three delicious weeks away, free from all concerns, cares, and worries.  It was in the middle of the first of those vacation weeks, only days after school let out, when I received the news that I was being reassigned to a different school.  It was the biggest kick in the gut of my career and within seconds of hearing of my being moved everything changed in an instant.  It was as if the opposite of rose colored glasses fell onto the bridge of my nose.  After four years, the school in which I had been serving had finally come to feel like home to me, but now, I was going to be a stranger in a strange land.  I sank deep as the words of my new assignment hit me, in spite of being surrounded by as much love in which I could completely immerse myself.

I thought of the work that would lie ahead of me.  Thousands of pounds of things would need to pass through my hands, one at a time, as I'd pack up my old classroom and discard things I'd accumulated that I'd decide not to take with me.  Boxes and boxes would need to be hand trucked down three floors (Thank God for the elevator!) and down a final flight of stairs to the parking lot where they'd be packed into my daughter's Jeep and then my car.  They'd need to be driven miles to the new place, and taken into the building to be unpacked, again, one item at a time.  My heart and my head reeled especially during those first days after learning my unwelcome fate.  Worst of all, I'd have to tear myself from the love and support in which I was basking, to come back here and begin the move.

You might recall if you pop in here from time to time that I wrote about this move before.  I had, though, the whole summer more or less to try to come to terms with it all, and as the time grew closer for me to start up anew I had neither the energy nor the spirit with which to do it.  I crawled through the muck of my heavy heart in setting up a new room and trying to draw from within myself the ambition to keep moving.  I took scooter rides, but they did little to raise my spirit, never mind inspire me to write anything good about them.  I spent my other two weeks away, plus a bonus one of a four days right before going back to school, and during them I did my best to try to stay upbeat.  Luckily, when I failed miserably, I was supported and nurtured and given as much good and love that I could possibly hope to feel.

It was when returning to the valley after my third week away that I prayed much of the way that the Neon would make it, without leaving me stranded somewhere along the 240 mile drive.  Days later I would part with my beloved Neon, the first car which had ever been wholly and entirely mine, and despite the excitement of picking out its replacement, I dealt with the compounded sadness I was feeling overall.

I replaced the Neon with an Impala.  I had test driven a Cobalt the day before learning of the Impala's availability, and while it rode nicely and had more seeming power going uphill than the Neon, I looked down at one point to see the knobs of the window cranks and knew that I didn't want it.  It would be little more than another Neon with the manual windows and door locks.  I wanted something better.  And for all the crap I was dealing with in my pathetic heart, I felt I needed it to pick me up.  I had the pleasure of taking my last little vacation trip of the summer in it and rejoiced because if I had looked to get the Neon fixed instead of replacing it, I might not have been able to make the trip at all.

When I got back to the valley, our opening faculty meeting was the next day.  I was greatly relieved when I saw the wonderful relationship my new colleagues have with each other.  I knew it was a great school and expected that everybody would be a proud member of the team.  Nevertheless, to have it confirmed was very good.

After the meeting I paid a final visit to the old school, to see what the new teacher might have done to my old room.  My jaw had almost hit the floor when I had discovered two weeks before that it had been totally emptied so that it could be painted.  If I had not been moved, I'd have not been able to make that last trip I took, because, with the painting, that's the week I'd have had to spend in getting my old classroom ready to start the new year.  There!  A silver lining!  And, believe me; I needed one.

One of the highlights of the new place?  Look at where my scooter's parked.  Right outside my classroom!  And I have my own outside door right there at the end of the stack of books.  I've spent the past week with my new kids, and we all seem to be quite happy together.  The commute is a little longer than in the past, but with the scooter it's fun ride up the side of a  mountain with cool twisties.  I'll be hoping for a good number of scooter days before the roads start to get iffy with the kind of weather that winter here usually deals us.

So, no, it was not the summer I had wanted as April turned into May and then May into June.  There was not a single, truly liberating scooter ride of the sorts that I'd enjoyed for the past few summer vacations, because every one of them brought me right back to the angst and the hard work of moving.  As we head into September I'm hoping that the feeling of being overwhelmed by new ways of doing things will fade and that I'll soon feel a comfortable familiarity as I go from day to day toward a June that I need more than ever.  I will admit that I'm already longing for that last day of the school year to arrive.  I am starving and parched for the summer I had hoped to have with more long trips to where I feel more at home than I do in my own skin most days.  Meanwhile, I hope to make the year for my young charges an unforgettably great one!

Oh!  They think I'm awesome because I come to school on a motorcycle. Shhhhhh!  Scooter?  What's that?