Saturday, July 10, 2010

As I was sitting on the patio this morning close to a bird feeder, a cardinal came floating across the yard toward the feeder and then veered away, as if it saw me and was wary – and it reminded me of what seems to happen in English class now and then. My teenage students are wary folks -- especially, perhaps, when their teacher is a silvery and seasoned 68, a guy with more furrows in his face than hair on his head. They often stare at me as though they’re seeing something from a distant historical age. When they approach my desk, they’re usually hesitant and silent, coming slowly forward with the deference and wariness they might show to a frail grandfather. It happens that as I’ve been writing this, the cardinal has approached the feeder a few more times, but each time has swerved off to the distant trees, as if he can’t quite find the courage to get so close to the old fellow below the feeder. I hope he finally is fearless enough to come for his food, and I hope my young students, too, can learn to live comfortably in the classroom with their elderly teacher. For me, it’s a question of being patient – just sitting at my desk (or on the patio) and good-naturedly waiting for birds and kids to trust a little more.

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