About Me

Thanks for being here! I am a mom of three (two girls, 15 and 13, and one boy, 9) and a teacher of many (thousands during my more than 17 years teaching high school English and Spanish in Philadelphia). Forever a student, I love learning - whether through talking to others, reading, watching movies and documentaries, or traveling. I also love running (slowly), hiking, and practicing yoga!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Welcome Summer!

Mimosa Lake after the rain. June 22nd, 2011.
The view from my sister's back yard. 
My last day at school was Wednesday, and as I packed up my belongings I came across a lovely little book called Drink Cultura: Chicanismo by José Antonio Burciaga. In it he writes short, entertaining essays on everything from jalapeño peppers to chicano heroes such as Cesar Chávez and Luis Valdez. One of my favorites is his essay on the Poinsettia flower, whose original Aztec name was cuetlaxochitl (coo-eht-la-soch-itl), or "flower that whithers, mortal flower that perishes like all that is pure." It was Ambassador to Mexico Joel Robert Poinsett from Charleston, South Carolina who introduced the flower to the United States in 1825, years after the Aztecs first cultivated it (Poinsett was chased out of Mexico in 1829 for meddling too much in the country's affairs, but that's another story). In any case, I wasn't thinking about Poinsett but rather the lovely definition of cuetlaxochitl as I began my summer by driving from Philadelphia to Mimosa Lakes in Medford, NJ, where my sister lives. My mom was there with Grace, Genevieve, and Joseph, as well as my sister's kids: Emma, 6, Eddie, 4 (almost 5, as he will tell you), and Tyson, 1. They are all best friends and were certainly not thinking about any withering flowers when I arrived, but rather joyfully splashing in the lake (everyone but Joseph).

It seems like most people I meet from South Jersey have a story about Medford, or Medford Lakes. My father in law remembers swimming clear across one of the larger lakes years ago, and my own father swam here as a boy as well, as the picture of him and his father, the grandfather I never met, attests to. My grandmother, Nana, the Grace Elizabeth that my daughter is named after (though my grandmother went by "Betty"), used to be a camp counselor on these lakes during the summer. Once she told me a story about a huge thunderstorm in the middle of the night, and how she had to run out in the rain to secure the tent. She still remembered the feeling of the rain soaking through to her skin, the lightning illuminating the night sky, more than 60 years later.

Grace, Emma, Eddie, and Genevieve. 
My own children and nieces and nephews were ignorant of this history as they simply enjoyed the eternal pleasure of a cool lake on a hot afternoon, their shouts echoing across the lake, pine trees almost imperceptibly swaying in the slightest of breezes. They had already showered and dressed when the clouds rolled in and a sudden rainstorm began, announced by one year old Ty, who was standing at the front window keeping watch, with an excited "Woah!" Within minutes, even as it continued to rain, the sun came out brightly, and everyone ran to the back porch to see if there was a rainbow (there wasn't). Still, the kids couldn't resist grabbing their umbrellas and playing.

After an hour or so we came in for a pizza dinner on the screened porch, and then pajamas were put on for the long ride home. Summer is here, and though it can't last forever, I'm looking forward to the afternoons of swimming, the morning bike rides, the evenings catching fireflies, and the overall unhurried pace of life unscheduled that it provides.

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