Last hurrah

Twenty-four hours ago I woke with the sun by the sea, rested and at peace with the world. I spent a few hours sitting at the ocean’s sandy altar beside my beloved sister-in-law, who’s like my own flesh and blood, speaking of the past, present, and future. Remembering loved ones lost. Cherishing new little ones, our children’s’ children. Hardly any other people were out and about; the beach seemed to be our own for these few sacred hours.

“Look! Dolphins!” my sister-in-law pointed. Out in the glimmering, watery distance, a distinctive leap…dolphins, navigators of the deep, ancient symbols of protection.

Just above the surface, gliding with astounding grace despite their unwieldy appearance, brown pelicans. Flocks of them. More than I’ve ever seen at one time before. Breaking their flight with dives and a mighty splash of white spray, catching fish and bobbing for a while in the waves.

Pelicans, a symbol for resourcefulness. And sacrifice. Legend has it that mother pelicans sacrifice themselves for their young, if need be. They wound themselves to feed their children with their own blood. They are social birds which hunt cooperatively—representing teamwork. Community.

Twenty-four hours ago, I sat breathing the same salt air as the pelicans, stood in the same sparkling waters as the dolphins.

Today I pack my bags, load my car, and return to school, masked. COVID rages on. Many unknowables lie ahead.

Yet I remain at peace. Diving, leaping, or gliding, I shall navigate as called for in the ebb and flow of moments. Children await, life awaits, time does not. The ocean remains. A reminder of constancy, of strength.

Here’s to the mighty plunge.

Low-flying pelicans. Tony Alter. CC-BY

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with thanks to Two Writing Teachers…strength and protection to all in this uplifting community of teacher-writers, seasoned navigators of life and story-sharing.

16 thoughts on “Last hurrah

  1. Those pelicans! Thanks for the information on the symbolism of these animals of the sea. I started with kids already and they fill me up, masks and all. These first few weeks always wear on me, though, so no slice to write yet. I’m giving myself grace.

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    • Our students return next week and I have to say that all my colleagues seemed so positive yesterday. The first weeks DO wear on us. So glad you are giving yourself grace – why is it that we are more willing or able to extend it more readily to others than to ourselves? A good point of mindfulness! Much strength to you, Margaret – you will so inspire those students. How fortunate they are!

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  2. “Here’s to the mighty plunge” – this is such a powerful line which ignited so many associations in my thoughts. It does take intention to create the courage to confront so many “unknowables” at school. This peaceful visit to the beach with you and your sister-in-law was a wonderful venture, a reverie, that is beautful.

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  3. I did not know anything about pelicans – symbols of resourcefulness and sacrifice! Wow! I love that your sacred hours and observations are setting you up to head into the year with peace knowing the children are there, waiting. Here’s to a great year, Fran!

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    • Nature and family recharge the soul – as does writing. And prayer. These are the things that get me through, Stacey! Strength and courage to you and yours as the year gets going, with all its lingering strangeness.

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    • Many thanks, Ramona – that beach trip was exactly what I needed. Usually I am steeling myself for the onslaught but this year I just let all that anxiety go and savored – really savored – those last beautiful days of vacation. The work will always be there! Can’t get it done effectively if one doesn’t allow for “restoring the soul.”

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  4. Fran, nature provides us with beautiful gifts that bring peace. I also saw dolphins at the ocean a few weeks ago. So many people stopped to stare in awe. “I shall navigate as called for in the ebb and flow of moments. ” Best of luck with school.

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  5. Oh, Fran, praying for you as you take the mighty plunge into a new school year. As always, your words hold life and hope and beauty. You teach us about the symbolism of the dolphins and pelicans and then you remind us that you were there sharing the same air and water. So beautiful and rich. Thank you!

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  6. I’m being guided by Tina Boogren’s 180 Days of Self Care for Busy Educators this school year, and she rightfully calls the first quarter “Surviving the Season of Sacrifice”. It is usually draining, this time of forging new relationships, establishing routines, setting baselines, and this year seems doubly so. My hope for you is that this post, this soul-filling time away, may continue to be a respite and well to draw upon when needed.

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