Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ah...this is what it's all about

Today was a glorious day for all sorts of reasons. This morning it was off to Aniak Elementary School and I knew I was in for a treat. I had such a lovely time with them last year. I packed up my rucksack with books, candy, pens and pencils, as well as copies of the anthology of childrens' stories, as I was going to be seeing some of the students who have stories in it. I was looking forward to their reaction.

My first port of call was the Kindergarten and first graders. I read them a story about a boy who goes into the forest looking for his teddy bear, and then I had them all step (one by one) through a magic door into the forest, tell me what they could see and hear and smell and then pick up something to bring back for the class. They brought back flowers, leaves, pizza, cookies, soda and an elephant. We had several pizzas but only one elephant :o) It was great fun.

Later that afternoon, when I was sitting in the classroom a group of them came in and gave me a present on behalf of Thomas and Gwen (the teachers) and all of the children in the class. It was stuffed full of goodies - books, pens, bookmarks, was a real treasure trove of wonderful things. Best of all were the hugs I got from all of the children. OK, so I cried :o)

It was amazing how, walking the hall of the school, there were so many students who remembered me, which was lovely. After the Kindergarten and 1st grade, it was off to a class I had never seen before - the pre-schoolers - a class of the most gorgeous little 4 year olds. I read a couple of books to them, we did the forest thing again and one little boy shot an imaginary bear when I told him I would be afraid of it! One of the books I have has sound effects so, while they started off sitting by my feet, by the end of the story they were all crowded around - it was hilarious.

Next was the second grade class. We did an exercise where I had written down two sets of words and cut them up and they picked one from each pile and put the two words together and that was their story title. They then wrote a story for me based on that title, and then read out their stories - Fantastic Kitten, Angriest Dog, Invisible Mountain, Messy Marshamallow, Sparkling Baby. It made for some fun stories. I also showed them a copy of the anthology. They were too young last year to write stories but they were really excited by the book because it had stories from people they knew. One little girl was thrilled because there was a story by her sister in the book. I read them 3 of the stories that were written by people in their school. I wish I could have got those students in to look at the enthralled little faces as the stories were read out. It was so lovely.

Then it was off to a class where 5 of the students had stories in the anthology. I got them all to sign my copy of the anthology, they got me to sign theirs. They all read their own stories. Here they are holding up their copy of the book. They are currently in the middle of writing another story and I went round and helped them all with their stories. One of them in particular is soooooooooo good. They are going to send me them for the competition I am doing again this year.

At the end of school Emily came to pick me up. Today is so gorgeous that I took a walk down to the river when we got home. Away from the river it's chilly, and definitely glove weather, but it's not too bad (-13 celsius). As I went over the small hill that leads down to the river it got colder and colder. I have never been so cold in my life - so cold it hurts to breathe. My camera froze up. Luckily I managed to get a couple of photos before it did.

The river is pretty fast flowing - right now, the ice floes that you can see a fairly whizzing past. In another couple of weeks, the river will be totally frozen over and can be driven on. I walked right down to the edge of the water and already there is about 2 feet of thick ice at the edge. I gingerly put one foot on it to see if it held - it did. The snow at the edge of the water is about 6-8 inches deep. I walked along the side of the river through unbroken snow. It was so quiet, the only sound was of my Dr Frankenstein feet squeaking and crunching through the snow. I'm very glad of my ugly boots. Out there, my feet were the only part of me that was warm!

And now, I am sitting in the cosy little house next to Buzz the cat who is purring away with his head on my lap. This is definitely the life.


Cathy Lemann said...

Just be respectful of the ice. I fell through the ice in Fairbanks in the river in February this year. It would be tragic to lose you this way.

Julie said...

Several pizzas is good, but one elephant is enough for anyone! ;p

Ewan said...

I second Cathy's comments about the ice, Donna. Be careful. Although I did have to laugh at Cathy's comment 'It would be tragic to lose you this way.' Like losing you to a bear wouldn't be?! :-)

Well, Donna, you are the intrepid-est of the intrepid - to boldy go where no Donna has gone before. Hats off to the Pathfinder General.

On a health note, I hope you're drinking plenty of liquid to replenish to your tear ducts. I've never heard of a girl cry so much. RIDDLE-ME-REE: When is a dry village not a dry village? Answer: When Donna comes to stay. :-)

You better watch out or you'll have two big mammoth's tusk icicles hanging from your eyes, it's so cold over there!

As to Paul's earlier comment about it being weird getting somebody an elephant - (Paul, I whisper this in parenthesis, so that Donna can't hear, but you're right, it is weird. The photo of the elephant only comes out when Donna comes to stay - it gets stuck in a drawer as soon as she goes. Don't tell her though)

Have a great time, Donna


Bobbie said...

Oh Donna, I laughed heartily, I misted up with a few tears, I am soooo proud to know you and so proud of what you are doing for these children-and yourself! How wonderful to go back, be remembered and welcomed. How wonderful to go exploring down by the river--so very different for you to see all this, and appreciate it!

And Ewan, your remarks are so terrific-humour, caring, admiration, fun, and cool! It is so neat to be part of this Great Adventure, everyone's posts are fun to read, thanks for sharing, Donna. Enjoy your time there, and be careful of those icicles! :-) We do live next to a forest (woods), but haven't seen an elephant yet...still watching. ;-)

Best Wishes,
Bobbie and Larry

Anonymous said...

The boots you wear sound a bit like the "trog boots" we wore in Germany many years ago, thick rubber soles so we could climb over aircraft without damaging them. On the isle of Sylt we had two feet of snow in three hours, and it was cold, at night the temperature dropped to about zero celcius. We learned to dress for the weather and looked like tramps as a result. Keep on enjoying yourself and mind those bears.
You will notice an almost normal post today, I am feeling a little under the weather.

Donna said...

First of all - Dad - I hope you're feeling better. Is it man flu? Can I see Mum raising her eyebrows from here? And don't worry about being normal - it makes a change. Lots of love to you and Mum and take care.

Cathy - don't worry - the only way I am going to actually stand on the ice is if a 25 ton truck stuffed to the gunnels with gold bullion and driven by a 400lb man called Bubba drives across it first. Apparently it freezes to over 4 feet thick but I'm certainly not going to test it :o)

Jools - maybe I should have given YOU the elephant instead of that ingrate Ewan :o)

Ewan - and there I thought it was just free of dust because you dusted it so carefully :o) And I am drinking plenty of liquid - they have this hazelnut liquid stuff that goes into coffee and it's yummy. I have never drank so much coffee before. Hmmm, maybe I should just drink the hazelnut stuff. As for icicles - there are wonderful ones hanging from the roof of Emily and Ronnie's house. I thought they were glass Christmas decorations - imagine my glee when I realised they were real :o)

Bobbie - it was truly wonderful to go exploring by the river. I wish I could have taken a video with sound too. The ice floes really speed past and there are these splashing and cracking and creaking noises as they all bounce off each other. It's amazing.

gary warren niebuhr said...

Hello, it is Mister Late as Ever--I am catching up on the great Alaskan adventure. This was the payoff, wasn't it. They remembered, they loved the book. But even better, it sounds like you are leaving new footprints on their lives and maybe a path to allow you to return. GWN