Reading the Signs

Last week there were still patches of snow on the ground. this morning the Daylily greens have exploded from little green shoots into broadleaves.

I don’t think of day lilies as signs of spring. They grow quickly, exploding into a mass oof orange and red.  And, as soon as  their giant orange blooms fade, it’s almost time to start shopping for school supplies. 

The sturdy greens are really reminders of how fleeting and precious is time.

Drive for Education

It seemed appropriate, if only coincidental, that we kicked off weekend marked by a worldwide March for Science with college visits. pressed for time, we stuck to schools in Vermont along Route seven, including Middlebury College and The University of Vermont.
Thing1 had put Middlebury on the list, and a UVM visit is practically a requirement for Vermonters. when we started out the drive, Thing1 seemed like he knew what to expect. these were not our first visits, and even though the college bug has bitten, it’s seemed more like an inch to be scratched than a fever that’s taken hold.

The presenter at Middlebury changed all that. He told us what the college can do for students, but he also emphasized they expected of students, academically. The college wants students to prepare for careers in business or science or public service. The presenter also, stressed, however, that education was more than preparing for a career.

It is about opening a world of possibilities. 

Our tour guide crystallized that idea perfectly for Thing1. 

We saw the requisite dorms and libraries, and she pointed out a few buildings that everyone will have to re-identify on the map two years from now. Then she took us into the main science building where a symposium was taking place. The atrium of the building was filled with students presenting their findings from research projects conducted throughout the winter. There were biology and art and physics displays everywhere, and even though we could not hear the tour guide over the gentle din, the displays were fascinating enough to sell the college to every parent and prospective student.

From that point on, I could see Thing1’s eyes light up at each new building and each mention of new opportunities for discovery. 

We also asked about our tour guide’s experiences and learned that she had started her freshman year is an art history major–just the sort of “unprofitable” degree the Zeitgeist currently is trying to discourage kids from pursuing. She mentioned that a freshman internship had uncovered a previously unrecognized interest in science, and now almost 2 years later, she was majoring in neuroscience (but still studying art history and language). 

In many ways her academic journey reflects the evolving reality of work in America today. People entering the workforce today may change careers five times before they retire, if they retire at all. In that environment someone who has a background in art and history and in math and science has strong advantage, even if we view education only for its financial utility.   

We left Middlebury just before lunch and headed up to Burlington. We poked our heads in at a small school that had sent us a nice brochure, but suddenly my math-science obsessed sixteen-year-old was less interested.  

“There aren’t enough options,” he said, and we drove on towards UVM. We stopped for lunch and dessert at Ben & Jerry’s (the only place where Thing2 cared about options).

By the time lunch was done, it was too late for a formal tour of UVM, but we decided to drive around the campus just the same. Thing1 navigated. I read the school’s stats aloud as he drove, captivated by the size (10,000 people in one place is huge when your entire town only has 300 people) and the number of buildings with different academic purposes. 

“Look at all the things you could do here,” he said as we are waiting at a red light, and I knew we had crossed the Rubicon. It was clear that Thing1 understood college was more than just a tool or a prerequisite to a good job with insurance. He had come to see education as a springboard to adventure.

The Big Guy and I called the day a win for the parents, but Thing1 might contest that.  

Minions Holding the Floor

So Herman the Hermit was discovering his own beauty in the reflective surface of the aquarium, Oscar the Guppy was hiding among the purple plant leaves (apparently nursing some slight from the minions), and yours truly had only enough time for one 3-minute timed drawing.

Normally I don’t ask the minions to pose because they don’t like to hover long enough for a photo. Today, however, they had congregated under the bonsai to hold a secret (and stationary) meeting of the Guppy Poet Society.

Oscar had started the club and invited everyone else (Herman being a Hermit said he’d be happy to make guest contributions) so he felt it was perfectly fair to name it after Guppies. The Minions felt naming the club after guppies devalued their own contributions, and they came up with the idea for uniforms after all. 

The water was soupy with drama, and, contrary to popular opinion, drama does not produce poetry.

Oscar and the Minions were still at odds when the 3 minute buzzer went off. The only thing they managed to agree on was to have flakes for breakfast.

Any Little Sign 

Last night after work I dragged the Big Guy outside for Car Talk Home Edition. While he took my car for the “what’s making that embarrassing sound” portion of the show, I wandered around the yard looking for something to draw. 

That’s when I saw it. One tiny yellow bloom on the forsythia bush. The bush is still mostly woody shoots right now, but that blossom, more than any isolated 80 degree day, was it. The first real sign that mud season is giving way to spring.

Cats and Kings

4 20CatandKing web

Our dog is pretty good about not begging at dinner time, but Snoop, our fat black god of pleasure, has a habit of parking himself by the Big Guy’s chair as soon as the Big Guy settles himself and his plate at our round pedestal dinner table.  

Snoop stares longingly up at the Big Guy.  The Big Guy, doing his best ogre imitation, orders him to go away and starts to eat.  Snoop begins a classic silent meow, but ends it with a squeak to make sure the Big Guy is aware of how adorable he’s being.  The Big Guy ignores him for a few bites until Snoop reaches a paw up to pat the Big Guy’s leg.

Then the contest begins, with the cat and Big Guy staring each other down until someone gets the next bite of whatever is on the Big Guy’s plate.  Snoop doesn’t always win, but he does so often enough to make it quite clear to the humans that it’s not the cat who is looking at a king.