It’s been a week. It was Thursday before I was able to work at my desk for any length of time. As predicted by the media, the trifecta of winter ailments (covid, influenza, and RSV) has hit our staff and their families hard. We seem to be slowly coming out of it, but there’s the lingering concern that those who were healthy this week might be out in the near future. As hard as it’s been, though, I have to say it’s given me a renewed appreciation for our teaching staff and our admin team. We keep showing up, setting aside our to do lists to make sure the children, our number one priority, are well cared for and engaged. It’s a good lesson in sifting through what’s important.
Fortunately, we’ve had several beautiful days that have allowed children more time to play outside. They’ve enjoyed the extra mud and wet sand lingering from the rain. One of the season’s best features is the piles of fallen leaves. Early morning toddlers enjoyed having a tub of leaves showered on them by their teacher. Older students created their own leaf storms with each other, screeching with laughter as they tossed the leaves in the air. One of my favorite moments of the week was seeing a four-year-old immersed in a pile of leaves, except for her head and arms. She was happily making “leaf angels” and having the time of her life.
Seeing her like this helped me feel grounded at a time when so much of life tends to give me a sense of being ungrounded. Especially during this season of extra activities, anticipation of surprises, sugary treats, and shared illnesses, I am called once again to practices which keep me steady and focused. Being in nature is one of them, which I make sure to include in each and every day. It’s something we offer children on a daily basis and in many ways, lies at the heart of our program. Time in nature offers consistency in a world where everything is always changing. It’s one of the greatest gifts we can give our children and ourselves. In the words of Wendell Berry:
“When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”