Friday, May 6, 2011

Say Hello to My Little Friend

Okay, I admit it, I've never seen Scarface. Too much of a wimp. But I'm not afraid of snakes, except the ones any sensible person should be afraid of, and this common kingsnake is welcome in my garden. He's just a baby, no bigger around than my index finger and maybe two feet long, but he's definitely got attitude. I stumbled upon him, figuratively speaking, about half an hour ago while watering and called Joe to take a look. By the time we got back, the tip of his tail was just disappearing under an overturned flowerpot. I got the camera ready and Joe lifted the pot.  The little snake shook his tail like a rattler and, as you can see, raised his head as if to strike. I got the picture and we got out of there to leave the little guy in peace.
Yesterday was the last day of the semester, a good semester that seemed to pass more quickly than most. Many students are leaving for faraway places--home to China or Portugal or Kazakhstan, off to do fieldwork in Chile, etc.--while others will brave the desert summer (we've already settled in to temperatures in the 90s and yesterday it hit 100 in Yuma) and stay here, either because Arizona is home or to attend summer school. Joe and I have about a month off before we go back to teach in a 3-week intensive writing program for grad students, then a couple of weeks off again, then back for a 3-week program for high school students that I half-jokingly describe as writing day camp. It's one of the best parts of the year--the students are so diverse, from all over the Tucson area and all kinds of schools, public, charter, private, with widely varying backgrounds and levels of writing skill. I love watching them develop their skills and friendships with people they might otherwise never get to know, and because some of them have kept in touch with me and told me so, I know they keep those friendships going. Anyone who has a negative opinion of today's youth should spend just one morning at our Summer Institute for Writing and Thinking; they'd quickly change their tune.
Right now I'm happy to have more time in the garden, though the time I spend there will be fairly early in the morning, before it gets too hot. (I have plenty of indoor projects for later in the day.) This is an outdoor project, on the west wall of the garden. The handprints belong to family and friends and we'll continue to add more as people come over and are willing to cover their hands with paint. My next step, though, is to paint the leaves on the tree, and some birds and butterflies, etc. Bahá'u lláh, whose words are painted at the top of this Tree of Life, was the founder of the Baha'i faith. I agree completely with what he says here. It is a sentiment that in our fractured and fractious world is all too easy to forget, and I like being reminded of it whenever I go out to my backyard.

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