The Rubber Tire Fire

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May 6, 2021- The six and seven-year-olds watched, from the safety of the playground and grassy field, as a thick black cloud rose, five miles away. The four of us adults watching the group of fifty fielded lots of questions and assuaged the concerns of those watching, that the fire would be upon us, “any minute now.”

It had been a most productive day, from working on mixed addition and subtraction to working on a Mother’s Day packet. The children worked well in pairs and in groups of four, with a bit of “He said I have no friends” and “She scribbled on my Mother’s Day heart”. Some things never change, and are just handled with care.

I stood with a thoughtful little man and explained how the smoke would not affect us, while he continued to express concern about the chance it could zip across five miles of houses and fields. I assured him the fire department was on the job, and as the smoke drifted eastward, well away from us, we all happily watched as the thick black cloud diminished-then disappeared altogether.

It was a bad day for a junkyard owner, but a good day for some little ones to keep faith in their elders, and in their First Responders.

Star Struck

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February 5, 2020-

In engaging with a group of First Graders, this morning and afternoon, I was pleased to see that their awareness of the sky, our solar system, and constellations equals, if not surpasses, that of many in much older generations.  There was even a mini-debate about whether Pluto should be still regarded as a planet. (My take is that it should be so regarded, given that it orbits the Sun and it has at least one moon.)

The kids have been taught well, as to how to recognize the various constellations.  I was probably in fifth grade, before knowing of much more than the Big and Little Dippers, and Polaris.  The ability to spot Antares, Betelgeuse and Sirius, among others, has already entered these children’s intellectual exchequers.

This exchange underscored the presence, at last night’s State of the Union, of an eleven-year-old boy, who has dreams of one day exploring our planet’s Moon, and Mars.  The generation some call The Alphas will definitely have a shot at the beginning stages of  human interplanetary travel, so this early awareness of the Heavens is well-placed.

I will spend another day with the group, tomorrow, and hope to engage them further, in the notion that humanity may both explore the near solar system and find ways to learn much about the systems orbiting the intriguing bodies of the Milky Way and beyond.