November 15, 2007
The Transcendental fieldtrip. The wettest one yet. As we were driving to school this morning, and Bill offered visions of potential disasters-limbs from trees overweighed by rain falling on some unsuspecting junior, I actually thought that we may have to postpone the trip, though I had told my classes that we'd go no matter what unless the weather closed school. But when the temperature dropped ten degrees on our way to school, I realized that there could be other restrictions. Luckily, by 10:00 am the winds had died down, and though it's been raining lightly on us for an hour, there's no reason not to be here. In fact, I've realized that this is the best time of year for this fieldtrip: "To the attentive eye, every season has it's own beauty" (Emerson).
I'm sitting on a folded beach towel, hunkered under my purple umbrella, and balancing this journal on my knee. Uncomfortable-yes.
I brought some coffee in a thermos which I'm afraid to drink because I've already found that the bathrooms are locked. Inconvenient-yes.
I hiked around the perimeter of the park with the stream on my right hand side for an hour encouraging Transcendentalism. Annoying-yes.
I forgot my camera at the picnic area. (It's the first time I even remembered to bring it!) Oh no!
How many times have I written this journal? How many times have I rediscovered this feeling? When will I learn to change like the leaves do every year? This year, the fall has been so wet and gray, but today I see how beautiful the leaves are. So orange and yellow and read and spottled. Their beauty persists.
In modern times our new worries-carpel tunnel's, back and neck problems, am I more machine because I rely too much-the more things stay the same. Emerson and Thoreau are worth knowing because they try to respond to the same fears. Will we lose our touch with nature? Will we totally destroy nature? Maybe we can; maybe we can't, but we can miss the point.
Thoreau believed that reform must start with the individual.
Every year I stress about this trip. In years past, Bill has even suggested that it is too risky; Can I ensure the safety of my students? There are dangerous things here in the world, outside of the classroom.
But my greater fear is actually that they won't "get it." This trip only amplifies and reminds me of a core dilemma in my chosen profession: My duty is to teach effectively-to reach them where they are and lead them, guide them, carry or cajole them further in their understandings.
I cannot make them have an experience.