Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wake Me up When September Ends

It’s the angle of light, more than anything I think, that speaks of autumn. The sun rests slightly lower in the sky, and I feel it. Shadows are a bit longer, even at midday, and light filters through the pine needles, lending a golden quality to the landscape. Autumn, for some reason, makes me feel sentimental and a tad melancholy.

The traditional symbolism for this season about change, and death, and such, is, in some ways, the opposite for me. Being a teacher, every autumn is the start of something new. It holds all the hope and promise of a blank page. Anything is possible.

This year, that particular sentiment is going to be helpful. I am teaching Writing and Literature to grades 5-8, and there is a lot going on in my department! Needless to say, my own writing exploits will be minimal.

But check out my new classroom!

It's gigantic. And beautiful. With huge windows. And when I stand at the front of the room teaching and look out those huge windows, I get to watch the cows peacefully grazing in the pastures.


Cows are very soothing to a frazzled teacher.

This fuzzy brown girl is in a pasture all her own, and she likes to come over to the fence nearest me in the afternoons, snuffling the grass and chewing contentedly. She's adorable.

I had to stop class in the middle of a lesson yesterday morning so we could observe this huge hawk perched on a light post just outside the window as well. (Sorry, no picture for that one.) I swear we do more than just look at cows and birds in my class though!

Books in my classroom library:

It's going to be a full year. I'm pretty excited for it, even while a bit anxious.

And, like any good crazy ultrarunner, I have still managed to scrape out a few running adventures.

I finally made it back to the Bay to Bliss (aka The Emerald Bay Trail Run). This year, instead of running this point-to-point 7.5 mile trail race along Lake Tahoe, then running from the finish back to the start (like I did in 2009), I did it in reverse. I arrived at the finish just before dawn to run through an incredible lakeshore sunrise to the starting line. This is definitely the way to do it!


I met a few friends at the start, like Dave and Turi:

And Meghan!

Best finish line ever ...

I also had the pleasure last week of playing trail angel for the baddest assest southbounder on the PCT - ultrarunning's own Leslie!

 She is now somewhere loving up the High Sierra. Go Leslie!!

And speaking of High Sierra, my last big adventure of the year was 37 miles of it with Jamie, Caren, and Clare. We got our butts kicked but our hearts filled running through Yosemite and the Ansel Adams Wilderness this past Sunday. (More to come on this one in an upcoming post, I hope!)

Sometimes just getting started is the hardest part. Yes, I love the potential of a fresh start. But the anxieties of September are the same ones from childhood. So many questions to be answered. 

Once the gun goes off and you're five miles into the race, warmed-up and smiling, all those anxieties just seem to melt away.

I'm looking forward to the fall colors and cool days of October.


  1. Wow, these are some awesome photos! I wonder if any of your students know you run ultras on the weekends? It would probably be an interesting revelation for them.

    1. Some of my students know, but as with many grownups, the concept of that kind of distance is really a lot to wrap you brain around. Who knows what they really think of it!

  2. What a beautiful school room, Gretchen! The views are to daydream about. I know you'll have your students entranced with what they have ahead of them this year, as you're an awesome teacher with a real love of writing and reading! They'll pick up on your passion right away. assest a real word? You're the baddest assest I know :oP


    1. "Assest" is totally a real word! But only when paired with "Baddest." (Also a real word.) When you look that pair up in the dictionary, you see Leslie's picture. :)

  3. I love the book poster, Gretchen! And the cows....(We'll have to check out Rules. Loved The Fault in out Stars.)

    Funny, but my seasonal sensitivities are completely opposite to yours. I'm all anxious and sad in June when the days are longest, and finally feel myself coming alive again by late September. Again, it's all about the light. Bring on the December darkness, the February glow!

    1. Oh, I'm so excited you read The Fault in Our Stars, Pam!!! I want to read it for a third time, but I have to remind myself that there are so many other wonderful books to be read. I am moderately obsessed with John Green.

      Rules is great - I highly recommend it. Definitely Middle Grade fiction, as opposed to the YA genre of TFiOS. Plenty appropriate for your kids.

  4. Wow what a fantastic classroom! A seat of learning if I ever saw one!

    Beautiful trail pics too...I miss the trails!

    1. Ooh, it was such an amazing trail run, Stuart. Not much beats that region, in my opinion. High altitude terrain, and fairly reliable weather. Sweet!

  5. I am going to really miss your writings if you plan on cutting back! It's bad enough lots of bloggers stopped completely or just post pictures from time to time, and surely don't comment, it'd be sad to have you go, for whatever reasons...I am glad you're teaching a subject you really love though, and that you can see those slowly chewing creatures calming you down, and that you got to spend time with Leslie and have an adventure on your own. We kind of grow up? A little? And it's also a little sad:)

  6. Hey there - that is an awesome classroom. Just to offer a bit of help, though, that cow that is all alone in its own pasture? That one is a bull. They are usually pastured on their own (says the guy who now lives in a dusty cow-town), but it is also evident from the picture.

    Happy fall time - D

    1. It's a bull?? Um ... oh. So, bulls don't always have horns or whatever. Noted. I guess I should stop calling him Fuzzy Brown Bessie.