The Last One Out

Last week I chaperoned a ninth-grade retreat at Doe River Gorge. As the last post indicated, this wasn’t the first time I’ve spent a couple of days zip-lining, hiking, and rappelling with high school students. Many of the activities were familiar, and it had been a couple of years since my last visit, but my initial intentions were to get to know a completely new group of students and fellow faculty. Still, the familiarity (and a reawakened love of the woods initially instilled by my grandma) fueled my anticipation for activities that my at once old and new boss had lined up for us to do. One was the famous (and aforementioned in the previous post) bonfire and night hike.

“Then You Are Somebody, Sir?”

My Shakespeare professor chanted the first lines of Beowulf in Old English to help us better understand the rhythm of Anglo-Saxon poetry. While I’d read the poem multiple times, I didn’t exactly have the first line memorized, but it didn’t matter. There was magic in these words I couldn’t understand and wouldn’t have recognized if you’d placed them before me. But the archaic words hailed something otherworldly, and my soul longed for it, though I couldn’t tell you what it was.

The Road Goes Ever On and On

My grandma loved the outdoors. When I was little she would take me for walks around her backyard with her stopping to pull a weed or tell me the names of the bushes and flowers. As a teenager, summer meant that at some point Grandma would drive me to the Breaks Interstate Park. While we wound around what she called “kiss your butt” curves, she’d tell me stories about growing up in a coal mining town.