We had our first truly cold late fall night here in Vermont. One of those nights when you pull the quilts tight and snuggle into the yawn of almost winter dark. After falling asleep I had already woken several times, my head full of school. I am transitioning from coaching at one pair of 6 schools in my district, and beginning at the next pair. Much to reflect on. Successes, lessons learned to take to my upcoming schools. Each wake-up I sensed the alarm clock ticking closer to the dreaded 5:30. I have never been a person for whom morning has come easy. Each wake-up, I settled back in, relieved I still had several more hours to sleep, when suddenly I awoke again-to the sound of barking.
Unusual. Even in a houseful of corgies. Andy, the timid one who sleeps upstairs with us, still slumbered. The remaining trio usually sleep in the laundry room. But AJ, the elder statesman of the bunch, puts himself to bed early these days. Once down, he doesn’t like to move his crotchety old bones and similar personality. Last night, by the time I was finally ready to herd the crew to the laundry room, he was already snoring by the woodstove. I didn’t have the heart to move him. But what was he barking about?
Perhaps it was just a doggy dream. I waited, hoping, but no, the barking grew more insistent. Could we have yet another flying squirrel in the house? Sigh. I would have to investigate. I threw back the quilt, gasping at the chill, padded down the stairs, past the politely sleeping cats, (innocent for once) curled like wreaths in their beds. I opened the living room door-to a dog party! THREE corgies, chasing, tugging, couch-bouncing, BARKING-totally nonplussed and unhampered by darkness.
How had they gotten out? My eyes trained on Poppy. Still a puppy with boundless energy, she continually fills our house with the unexpected. She must have bounced and bounced on the bottom Dutch door that I obviously had not shut tight. Amazingly, given her as yet unreliability, I found no puddles as I coaxed them all back to the laundry room (they will do anything for a “cookie”.) Finally back into my bed, I glanced at the clock. 5:15 am.
I had a choice. To grumble about the lost night (my first inclination), or be thankful (which took a bit of work). There IS something joyfully silly about a pre-dawn, impromptu dog party. It’s a bit like teaching.
So often in our busy profession, our best laid plans are hijacked by the unexpected, the full-glory messiness of shared lives, and the needs of systems. One of my professional take-aways from this last trimester, is to more easily let go of where I thought I was headed, to embrace the unexpected. That is often where the true party is happening. And the joy.
Having a writing life makes us better teachers of writing. The lovely folks at TwoWritingTeachers have understood this for a long time. Each Tuesday they host a place for educators from around the country to share and read each other’s writing. Look for the Slice of Life! Come join us!