Darrington Library Blog

Saturday, March 28, 2009


I had a wonderful visit to our local Darrington Elementary school this week. I came to see their “reading in the morning’ voluntary reading program. Children from 1st through 6th grades come ½ hour early so they can spend time reading a favorite book in the school library before school starts. What a simple, yet very effective way to encourage the love of reading at a young age! This program, coupled with a new school wide reading program, has increased the number of Darrington students reading at or above grade level by 13%.

When children have time to read “for fun” they are apt to be more successful in their schoolwork and beyond. The love of reading is never lost once you have it and I couldn’t imagine not having time to read. Magazines, newspapers and books clutter my life and I learn something new every day from them.

If you have children in your life, let them see you reading. Bring them to the library and let them pick out their own books. Sometimes it takes only one special book to “hook” them into not wanting to put it down. I remember the first time my son read The Hobbit by J. R. Tolkein when he was only 7 or 8 years old. Now, 27 years later, he still reads every fantasy book that I bring home when he comes to visit.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thinking Green

In the process of planning an eco-friendly children’s program, I asked myself, “What makes you a recycling expert, Mrs. Green?”
My dad, who was not Mr. Green, saved almost anything, most of which was stored in a dilapidated shed he called the “delco house”. That old shed was stuffed floor to ceiling with used twine, spark plugs, horse shoes, rusty nails, nuts, bolts, screws, etc. As a child, I was forbidden to enter, but I remember standing in the doorway gazing at shelves lined with coffee tins brimming over with meticulously organized junk.
Although I did not inherit Daddy’s junk collecting skills, I did learn the value of reusing household items that might otherwise be bound for the trash. I began recycling many years before it became the popular thing to do. We have never had garbage service at our home where we have resided for more than 35 years. Our children dutifully learned to sort paper, glass, aluminum and tin. Buckets of smelly table scraps were toted to the compost pile for systematic turning and testing. Our dogs grew shiny healthy coats on diets of bread scraps enhanced with milk, eggs, olive oil, garlic powder and an occasional scrap of meat, a recipe from Laurel’s Kitchen by Laurel Robertson.
After mulling it over, I suppose I am sufficiently “green” enough to do this program. My challenge is to translate many years of utilitarian experiences into something fun and educational.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Live Gratefully

I will often bounce philosophical ideas off of my very wise grandfather, who proceeds to recommend a plethera of corresponding and contradicting material for me to read. After reading some of his suggestions, I found myself spiraling down this well of possibilities. So many religions, so many beliefs... and everyone who subscribes to each will state his or her own as "fact." That is, the only choice, out of many choices. Does anyone else find this confusing? What I have learned is that living with faith is a lot like being in love. No one can tell you you are or are not in love. You can not show someone the love that you feel, or explain its origin. But one feels love nontheless. I imagine it is much the same with faith. Perhaps it is these intangible treasures that define us. So I wrote this poem, kind of for my grandfather and mostly for myself. For me, it means not to spend my time worrying about which ending (out of an infinite number of possible endings) will be mine? Why think of endings at all, or beginnings? Aren't we all somewhere in the middle? How about, instead, we spend our time grateful to be alive in this time that we are alive in? Sounds good to me.
I was going to attempt to enter this poem in some poetry contests, so if a potential reader has any revisions or suggestions, I would love to hear them. I am only semi-familiar with poetry time and rhyme, and am open to your criticisms. I hope you enjoy the poem. It's message has become a sort of mantra for me and how I live my life:

If When

I looked up at a tree
And he looked back at me
Through deep sockets of eyes
Where his arms used to be

And I asked silently
Indirectly to he
If his roots carve the grave
Where my ashes will be?

He inquired back to me:
"How can one not see
these humans who walked once
whose souls live in me?"

It occurred to me then
Regardless of the end,
the Beauty of this now
Lies in the vastness of if when

If when you die,
and you may - you see,
If when you leave
and come back as a tree,
You'd live many years,
seeing all there is to see
But from time to time
from the eyes of your limbs
You will remember and
say to a listening me
That you once walked about
on two legs
and were free.
You encapsulate secrets
of great men before me
And you give this advice -
"live gratefully."

If when you die, you rise
To a cloudy haven above
And spend your days with angels
Making life from love

Will you not longingly remember
This paradise below?
Mountain peaks, waterfalls,
Uncertainty and sorrow.

Why miss sorrow - so loathesome a thing
Yet pain carves the cup
From which happiness drinks.
It is only by knowing the empty gorge of space
that we appreciate its fullness
and understand its place

And the angels whisper sweetly
using chimes in the wind
that my paradise surrounds me
if I can find it within
And today she sings audibly
to a much listening me
that "heaven is inside you-
live gratefully."

If when you die,
you fall far below
To join cries of despair
and eyes hollow
To a fiery pit
that torches your skin
and learn what is meant
in the meaning of sin.
If when you manage
a thought that is yours,
surely you'll cherish
a life only endured:

The cool of the river
on a hot summer's day,
the sounds of laughter
of children at play
and you'll silently scream
from the balls of your feet
to a darkened red sky,
while knowing defeat
and yet I still hear you
from under my feet
live gratefully

But what if it's all in my head
this Beauty, this world?
You've painted yourself a picture-
You clever little girl
and somewhere you either writhe or twirl
and create this life for myself
to spare me your toil
and I lie here grateful
for this picture I've painted
and shy far away
from those things that would taint it.

If when you're passing
through judgement one day,
Oh great surprise,
should omnipotence say
that there is much fault
in claiming this phrase:
"live gratefully."

If when you're scorned or cast away
Think back to beauty, if you may
and know that ne'er existed a day
When you were not grateful
living in love's way.

If when time repeats itself
If when we kill our own salvation
As fire spreads, will we spend our ends
pondering obligation?

"perhaps" ,"maybe", "could've", "should've"
If when these can't be solved
Look at your life through the memories you choose.
Feel jubilant and absolved.

If when an accident
renders the healthy man stricken,
may he not look back in wonder
at however he missed it:
To have ran like the rabbits,
To have swayed like a tree,
And let him not say
to a listening me:
"Live Gratefully."

If when we live forever
to watch our landscape change
humans may one day wonder
although now seemingly strange,
at the beauty of a sky
that is both blue and orange,
or a bird that is red and sings
with its own song
and enjoy as we may,
our newest creation
the self-proclaimed greatest
of all of the nations
or perhaps a world resulted
from alien visitation,
Won't we someday look back
and long for sensation
of plush grass beneath our feet
and sand between our toes,
of rushing water on our fingertips,
feeling the river flow,
of a lovers lips on our softest skin
and ponder that maybe the greatest of sin
is just not to've lived gratefully.

So tree, should your roots
pave the grave of my ashes,
I look forward to one day
sprouting out from your branches,
to having the best seat
as the sun sets west,
to be home to so many-
a place even eagles rest,
to come back as a house
or a blank sheet of paper,
to know all that has been
or at least all that have came here,
and to look down below
to a listening me,
will suggest that I write down
this dream life I lead,
and feel the connection
between I and he,
and feel the wind on my face
and live gratefully.