Tuesday, March 10, 2009
I awoke to the sun rising behind the mountains, exploding in a bright red streaked with orange, yellow and white against the spreading blue, like a tapestry flowing in the wind. I thought to myself, “Why don’t I ever see the sun and the mountains like this?”
That afternoon it started to rain. Sitting on the deck, watching a magnificent puddle forming on the wood, each drop of water holding itself together as it fell through the air, its only destination the puddle, I thought to myself, “Why don’t I ever see the rain this way?”
That evening, the rain cleared and the sun and the moon came out. Lying in the front yard looking up at the thousands of diamonds spreading across the world, I watched them moving with the music of the wind chimes blowing in the gentle breeze.
I stood up and started to dance with the stars, thinking, “I know why I have never seen it this way!”
I stopped dancing and looked up at the night sky and said, “Because my eyes have been closed to true beauty.”
There is a seed of motivation that has been planted and is slowly growing in the form of change. I have been looking back at the past few months and can see a difference in how I and other people are starting to perceive things. The way we look at challenges or changes, and the way many of us have stopped the patterns of behavior that have been holding us back.
We watched a documentary the other night about an expedition in the Antarctic aboard the ship The Endurance. The men aboard this ship had slowly made their way to Antarctica, but when The Endurance was first caught by the ice, and then slowly crushed, the expedition became a fight for survival. This was not a story of suffering, but rather a story of motivation and determination, and this determination transformed it into an inspiring true story of adventure.
At FMA, everyone is showing more motivation and more imagination, and increasingly we are seeing things from a different perspective. With the few months we have left together I hope to see this continue. We have been through some challenging times as we have learned new ways of being together in this community. Let’s finish it off in special ways. Call me crazy, but let’s make these last eight weeks count. Let’s make them resonate with meaning. Let’s read poems to each other. Let’s look at the stars and trace the patterns. Let’s take pictures and examine them as memories. Let’s act out plays, and make hats and necklaces to sell to one another. Let’s write stories and enjoy the splendor or each other’s company and inspire each other with new ideas.
This expedition started unlike any other as it didn’t start at all. Delayed one day by Mr. Mike’s stomach flu, we spent what would have been the first afternoon doing homework and reading books. We ended the first day of the would-be expedition by watching the movie Iron Will, a true story about a farm boy who enters a dog sledding competition and wins $10,000.00.
At 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, we boarded the bus and drove to Star Gap Road, and then hiked thee miles to our first camp alongside Kate Branch Creek. That afternoon, we returned to the infamous rappelling wall where most of went over the rocky face. Mr. Mike assured those of us who didn’t, that there would be another chance sometime this year. After returning to camp, I gathered small firewood (twiggies) and placed it in my tent for the next day’s fire.
The wilderness welcomed us with warm weather, and Monday morning I stepped out of my tent at around 6:15 a.m. with no coat on, and started my fire. While cooking breakfast, I made the final preparations for the day’s hike, and broke down my camp. We were all ready to go by 8:00 a.m., even though rally wasn’t until 8:30. As a reward, Mr. Mike moved our wake up time for the next morning to 7:00 a.m.
As we hiked out of camp and began our ascent, we took a small detour to Winnie Knob, where we were told we could see the school, but we didn’t actually see it until we resumed hiking, and reached the logging road. Soon after, we reached Camp Hickory, a camp that I later began calling Camp Spencer, due to a minister who kept popping up to talk to Mr. Dan. The wood around the camp was very dry, so I made sure to have a small fire.
When the third day rolled around, Mr. Mike informed us that we would be staying at Camp Hickory for a second day. During this day we hiked to Bald Knob for a map and compass class, and then did a somewhat disastrous compass hike where over half of our small population failed. After gathering wood and water for the next day, Mr. Mike gave us a brief SMEAC on the easy hike to the next camp.
On day four, I awoke to a massive red sky on the horizon, signaling an end to our fine weather. Paul had banked his fire with a large rotten log which gave him a great bed of coals, but also presented a bit of a problem in terms of putting out his fire in time to leave. Mr. Dan and I did our best to cool down the coals as Paul ran to get more water to help douse the heat. This fun little side event delayed our hike by an hour, but thankfully we arrived at the camp before the rain set in.
After setting up camp, we took a day hike to explore the logging road near where we had camped. Turns out it was a logging road to nowhere, although we did find a great supply of firewood. As we were returning from the hike, it began to drizzle. It was a mad race to get our meals cooked, but we succeeded and the rain poured down in buckets, while I slept dry in my tent on the side of the cliff.
The last day of our five-day expedition began with another red sky, showing the change from rain to sunshine. Mr. Mike taught us Morse code and briefly went over the hike to Ackerson Creek (or was it Atcheson?) Road, before we finally departed at noon down the logging road. Ike, our magic school bus appeared two miles closer that we expected. Although we students rejoiced, Mr. Mike was briefly disappointed that our hike had been cut short.
Thus ends the journey of Expedition Six, an expedition where we saw neither signs nor gates. Only the natural forests of Tennessee and North Carolina.
As all of us at FMA have experienced, water is not always here to stay, especially when you are getting your water from a spring. FMA’s water supply comes from a spring on the property, and occasionally water runs low.
This makes us enjoy the water we do have, but to build up the water supply we have had to learn a lot of water saving tricks. Like taking five minute showers, or even on some days, going without a shower. It could get smelly, but if we could survive expedition, then this was nothing.
Having to occasionally use the privy was a new experience for me, and we have gotten rather familiar with the saying, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow.”
The good thing is that water at FMA is far fresher than the tap “water” at home. And, as we all know, even in the “real” world, water conservation is becoming an increasingly important issue. The students at FMA now know the importance of conserving this vital resource. We do not take it for granted. It’s just one of the many things we are learning at this unique school.
I called you names.
I declared my loathing.
I fought and screamed,
I hated myself
For saying I hated you,
Didn’t know what to say,
Couldn’t find a way through.
I ignored your letters,
I cried everyday.
Couldn’t help but think,
“I know I’m away.”
I wish to erase it,
To make it dissolve,
For once in my life,
I have the resolve.
I take it back,
No question, apologizing.
I’ve always loved you,
Completely, no faltering.
When I come home,
You’ll see a difference.
I’m working so hard.
Achieving more balance.
I have but one question,
Please answer carefully.
When I come home to you,
Can you forgive me?
The movie, Anne of Green Gables, is about an orphaned girl named Anne Shirley who longed for a home that truly wanted her. Even though she could talk the leg off a mule, her wide imagination and kindness drew every person she met to her.
One fateful day, (little did she know, by accident) she was sent from the orphanage at which she lived to a beautiful home on the small Prince Edward Island. Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert had sent for a young orphan boy to help Matthew, who is not as young as he once was, run their farm. They got Anne instead. Matthew quickly came to love the sweet little red-head, and Marilla couldn’t talk him out of keeping her (even if she had wanted to.) They enrolled her in the Avonlea school, the nearest school, and she quickly adapted to her new life. There she grew up, lost friends, met her best friend, Diana Berry, and had lots of adventures.
In the sequel to Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne is now 16 and hopes to become a famous author. Her old friend, Gilbert Blythe, after years of trying to get her attention, finally admitted to Anne that he has loved her ever since she broke her writing slate over his head on the first day of school for teasing her about her fiery hair. She refused his marriage proposal at first, and moved to Summerside to be a teacher at a private school. Upon returning to Avonlea she found out that Gilbert had caught scarlet fever and was on the verge of death. She finally realized how dear he had been to her and she truly loved him back. Once she informed him of this he began to rapidly recover. The story ended in her promise to give him her hand in marriage.
The acting in this movie was excellent. At times the actress playing Anne may have seemed a little over dramatic, but most likely that was how the character really was.
The movie was very interesting, and I caught myself laughing hysterically when Anne made countless embarrassing mistakes and always laughed at herself afterwards. For example, she and Diana were running through a muddy field to chase a cow out of Mrs. Lynn’s cabbages and Anne fell on her behind. When Diana tried to help her up, she ended up falling down as well, and when Anne tried to stand again she fell straight on her face in the mud. When she looked up she found Gilbert Blythe laughing his head off. This movie was definitely a good one.
A boy’s journey to recognizing the requirements of manhood and learning to make his own choices is the underlying message woven through Howard Fast’s novel April Morning.
In this action filled novel, 15-year-old Adam and his father Moses join the militia of their town against the British army on April 19, 1775. While many died, including Adam’s father, they still succeeded in what would become the first battle of the Revolutionary War.
Adam, who has struggled with his father, lies awake the night before the conflict, listening to his parents argue over whether he should be allowed to join the militia.
“I can keep my son out of it, he’s just a boy.”
“Yesterday he was a boy,” father replied, his voice dull and troubled. “Tonight he is not…”
“I don’t understand that kind of talk, a boy does not become a man overnight. It takes learning, growing, hurting and most of all it takes time.”
“We don’t always have time.”
In this moving story, Adam Cooper, under the pressure of life and death situations, acquires the strength he needs to know his beliefs and to take responsibility for his actions, and in doing so is transformed overnight from a boy to a man. His attachment to childish things, while struggling to be seen as an adult is over, and his life is changed forever.
“Then, falling asleep, I said goodbye to childhood. A world, a secure and sun warmed existence, a past that was over, and done with, and gone away for all time.”
Adam became a man, knowing his father thought he was ready.