Friday, February 1, 2008


Today was the day of my elementary school visit. I enjoy my weekly visits to the little schools and their pint sized inhabitants. I am still a K-6 teacher at heart, and while I enjoy teaching the middle school students Monday through Thursday, it is Friday that I look forward to. I am given the opportunity to play games and really be myself. After the fun commute last week I was expecting another morning of rotten weather. I was pleasantly surprised when I looked outside to see peaceful and soft snowflakes drifting down towards the ground.

I could tell that it was plenty cold outside so I began to bundle up. I suppose that one nice thing about not having central heating or insulation in the walls is that it is plenty easy to tell how cold it is outside. When I finally did fire up the ol' kerosene heater this morning the thermostat read a chilly eight degrees and if the temperature inside was eight after a night of having the heat turned off, the temperature outside would be even lower. I pulled on an extra sweater and headed off for Shima Elementary School.

Last week I had to travel about twenty minutes to get to the school I was visiting. Today the school I was heading to is the farthest I am willing to travel by myself. I figure that a half hour bike ride is about the limit of my willingness to commute by bicycle. I hopped on my bike and began to ride. It is a pleasant ride through the briskly cold morning, and I was glad that I wore the extra layer. Thirty minutes later I was approaching the school. I noticed a softness to the rear tire as I was nearing the entrance. The security guard met me at the gate and helped me find a place to park my bike. I confirmed that the tire was low as I parked my bike under the eaves of the school. I hoped for the best and headed off to teach the morning away.

I had fun teaching the third grade though sixth. The fifth and sixth graders were working on the months of the year. We made a month mini-book and identified our birthdays. In third and fourth grades we practiced colors and I read the book "Green Eggs and Ham." I ate lunch with the third grade students in their classroom. We had soup, rice, salad and fried fish. I thought that the fish was so-so, but many of the students told me that they did not like it. We also had a small packet of roasted soy beans in celebration of setsubun.

My heart sank when I left for the afternoon. When I went into school in the morning I noticed that the rear tire of my bike was low, but now it was completely flat. Here I was clear out by the lake and I would have to walk home. I began to hike. I figure that it must have been close to four or five miles home. The silver lining is that not only did I bundle up this morning but now it turned out to be fairly nice for a cold winter day.

I started walking and about an hour later I found myself at home. A pleasant day of teaching and a nice long walk all on the same day. The only thing that would have made my walk better is if I did not have to drag my old granny bike (mama-chari) along with me.

As I am sure that you have noticed I have figured out how to embed links in the post. A few people have mentioned that they were curious about my infatuation with the character of tanuki. I have included a link to an article here.. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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