Friday, October 17, 2008

"I Had The Bestest Day"

After a peaceful sleep in what has to be the quietest place on earth, and a yummy breakfast of eggs over easy it was time for the long commute to school. It was all of a minute's walk!

Only two of the Sleetmute students were in this morning. A lot of the families have got their dividend cheques so they are off to Anchorage. So Samuel (age 9), Alfreda (age 7) and I read stories and played games until the other students arrived from the other upriver schools - Stony River and Red Devil. The students from Crroked Creek had their plane cancelled so they couldn't come. So this morning I had 5 elementary children. I read them a couple of stories and we did the Magic Door exercise. We did a forest, then a planet and then Alfreda said "please, please please can we do another one. I want to do a cloud." So they all picked their own location. I told them there was going to be a prize for the best thing brought back from behind the magic door. So we had fairies, bunnies, and crabs from the forest, stars from the planet, baby dragons...all sorts of good things. It was excellent fun and the childrens' imaginations really shone through.

At lunchtime one of my favourite students from last year, Vernon, came to say hello. He has a story in the anthology so I gave him a copy of it and made him promise to write me another one. He and his friend should have been at school but they had to chop wood for their families. School is not really a priority for some families out here.

In the afternoon I had the High School students for a couple of hours - 4 boys age 14 and 15 and 1 boy age 19. I thought "Oh-oh - this is going to be fun - 5 grumpy teenage boys who don't want to be here." Well, that couldn't have been further from the truth. They were funny, polite, intelligent, interested, worked hard and were great fun to work with. They taught me some Yup'ik words, we did several exercises and we had a lot of fun. We did exercises on plot, character and setting. Here's the start of one of the boys' pieces on setting - "The sound of a small creek keeps the silence out. The crunching of small paws on the fallen leaves...". How lovely is that? This is a picture of them all - Brad and Robert (brothers) Logan (or Pink as he calls himself!),Andrew and Eric. Great kids. They all promised to write me a story and I've told them I shall be after them if they don't.

After school I went for a walk around the village. Alfreda came running after me and showed me around. "This is Nicolai's house, this is Samuel's, that one is Mary's." On the way back she said "Do you remember whose house this is?" "Errrr, no..." "It begins with an S. Now do you remember?" This is Alfreda standing in front of a honey bucket outhouse.

In the evening I went to Susan's house for dinner. Her husband Doug is ex Marine Corps, Vietnam vet, and a guide and trapper. And one of the funniest people I have ever made. Says what he means, straight down the line and extremely well-read. He's a history buff and knows all sorts of fascinating stuff. After dinner I got to ride on the snow machine! Susan took me out on hers. She has a little wooden sled behind it and first of all I stood on the back of that (like you see mushers doing) and that was great fun. Then I actually got to drive it which was even more fun :o) The scariest part was rounding the bottom of a hill when I thought I was going to tip it over. It felt as though I was going really fast but since I didn't ever need to use the brake a one legged centipede would probably have had no problem passing me!

It was sooooo cold. I was wearing 2 pairs of gloves and the tips of my fingers still started to burn with the cold. The river was flowing more slowly this evening - a sign that it's starting to freeze up and getting jammed some place down river. I bravely stood on the iced over river and here is the proof. Back at Susan's we sat and drank whisky and chatted and laughed for a while and then they gave me a torch to come home. "It's next door - I won't need a torch" said the big city girl. They made me take one and I'm glad I did. It was pitch dark, despite the almost full moon. The stars are so bright here because there is no artificial light diluting the starlight.

As we were walking round this afternoon Alfreda said "I liked going through the magic door." "Did you?" I said, "Was it fun?" She nodded and said with a big beaming smile, "I had the bestest day." So did I, Alfreda, so did I.


sally906 said...

Just as well I am not there with all that snow - my GREEN with envy face would stick out like a sore thumb!!!

Peter Rozovsky said...

"The sound of a small creek keeps the silence out.

Very nice!
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Bobbie and Larry said...

Bestest Day Ever! :o) What a look at the far schools and kids and areas...I can think of no other word than WOW. Both good and hard things, intermixed. Those people's lives are so different...and yet are able to create words into a setting that takes my breath away...and have different values, as we see. But still LOVE learning and thinking. And you are making us think, Donna. A glass of whisky (or whiskey as we rebellios americans spell it wrongly, ha) is raised to you, from here, Donna. And to the people you've met there our glass is raised, also. Wow.

A caterpillar on a snow machine? And great photo of your boots on the ice! Living Proof! :-)
And the first photo, in this post--I say it again, Wow. I don't write as well as you and your students, ha.

Thanks again, you always bring us a smile and me some misty eyes....and then a laugh. :-)

Bobbie and Larry

Julie said...

Great stuff, mate. Loving this. :o) J x

Anonymous said...

Hmm, honey bucket. We saw something like that when in Germany, we were on a train at the time, and they looked like s*******hausen at the time.
Bobbie & Larry, Whiskey with an E is the Irish spelling. Proper whisky, without the E, is Scotch. Try a double malt to see the difference.
Donna, I thought we bought you up better than that, you never drink at home.(Both your Mum and I like Southern Comfort, so if you see a bottle going spare you will know where it could belong)

Donna said...

Sally, Bobbie and Jools - it is truly gobsmackingly breathtaking - and there are no words to describe it and the photos do not do it justice.

Peter - isn't that great?

Dad - yes, it will belong at mine since Southern Comfort is MY fave. Since when did Mum drink that? She only has a wee glass of sherry at Christmas :o) Hope you're feeling better.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Is it gobsmackingly breathtaking, or do you think it's more breathtakingly gobsmacking?
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Donna said...

Peter - both :o)

gary warren niebuhr said...

Real life is going to be hard to go back to after high school boys flock around. Does this ever make you want to teach full time? Or, do some workshops in your spare time? You seem to be able to touch people and it might be fun. And, if you did it at home, there would be indoor plumbing! GWN