Friday, May 21, 2010

three graduations dominate the present situation; two are done, and a third, the big high school one, is tomorrow. the first was a preschooler moving on to kindergarten; he represents the general trend that they are putting everyone in robes these days, even third-graders, if they are moving on at all from one milestone to another. it's a ritual of its own, where you imagine that kids might be texting under their robes, even if they are only five, but in fact the whole community witnesses, and for the older boys anyway it's a big event for an entire generation and their parents who have stuck together throughout the years.

it's beginning to be turtle season; i saw the first out on the road the other day, and i know the mulberries are on their way out, and this will really bring the turtles, up over the culvert cement and across the road at a dangerous bend above the creek. the neighbor there has lost several mailboxes, and it's finally occurred to me that he lost them because people were swerving to avoid hitting turtles that they saw at the last minute as they came around a pretty and graceful curve near the creek. nobody wants to run over a turtle. but it takes a kind of skill to run directly over them without crushing them, and at the same time not intimidate oncoming traffic by swerving one way or the other, and cause them to careen into the creek or into a mailbox. trading a car for a turtle is not quite the right response. i suggested to my friend, who is selling the house next to the one with the mailbox, the house on whose land the mulberry tree actually stands, that maybe the turtles would buy the house. She wasn't amused.

the siuc graduation is one we missed altogether, so i didn't count it, but i am still tallying up all of my students and friends who were there one way or another, as teacher, graduate, or whatever; i hope to have this posted as soon as i recover.

the second of the three graduations was by far the most dramatic and eventful though indirect; i actually missed the ceremony itself. it rained in kansas for several days straight; i was there altogether four or five; the son involved was in hospitals in kansas, but is all right now, home in illinois, and though we are all traumatized a bit, it was a graduation i will certainly never forget. kansas colors of red and light blue were everywhere and people were drinking and celebrating heavily; it's a large and beautiful school, and it was full of vans like mine being loaded with personal effects. the road between lawrence and topeka i'll always associate with this experience; it's hilly, green, beautiful, but i felt like i was on another planet or at least in an unreal world. i'd drive past the kansas state capitol building every day; the town of lawrence, however, was kind of like a combination of towns i'd lived in before, iowa city and pittsburg- it offered a lively alternative culture and lots of coffee shops, my favorite of which was called the bourgeois pig (sp?)...i'd have coffee, and use my cell phone freely. relatives called from everywhere to get updated; fortunately the news was good; the boy was fine, and got better, and came home; I just had to wait. he made it. i did too. i was there, and saw it. he didn't walk, but that was ok; we came back together.

this brings us to the final one, tomorrow evening, with the convergence of family in support of the high school senior and his large class of same-age cohorts celebrating escape from a large, somewhat unwieldy high school out on the edge of town. this time i'll throw my cap in the air, maybe, when it's over; i'm really, really happy when any of them make it to that final step, and take it, across the threshold into adulthood. whereas becoming adult is gradual - it's been happening all along - the ceremony itself is a mark of their getting beyond a symbolic childhood and into some measure of self control of their own destiny. i'll miss the childhood part. they were nice boys, good to have around. they'll do fine in the world, i think.

the world is rich, it's been raining a lot; high water threatens the low areas of the park, and will probably bring possum and more turtles up out of the mud. life is too busy, but i'll stop for a turtle, if i have a chance; you don't want to hit those things. they are what's left of the stone age: they're hard to cook, but if you need 'em, they're always right there, at that one bend in the road. if you stop, put your blinkers on. people can usually see that, and it'll save a mailbox.

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