I'm walking in the dark this morning, thinking about my neighbour who told me I should be wearing reflective gear. She's right. I really should buy some wind pants, too, but I'm lucky this morning. The only breeze is from my legs pushing into the still air. I'm earlier than I have been all week, leaving at 7:05. I'm not taking many pictures, making good time, so I can afford a detour to those two pine I've been admiring from a distance. Their digital image against the pink sky makes the trek and the time worthwhile.
In period three I get to help a new student, Raelee, finish her Treaty Walk story. She and I got off to a rocky start, frustrated with each other, there was potential for writing each other off; however, we both were direct in our frustration, and today, I'm so thankful we've moved beyond our misunderstandings. She is writing a poignant story. I wish I could publish it on my blog, but we're planning to send it to the Leader Post's Minus 20 column. We're digging deeper into the ending; what is it she really wants to leave her reader with. Then, she tells me that her dad's name, "NatauCappo" means "Standing Tall" and her mother's name, "DuBois" means "Of the Forest". I get goosebumps. She is writing about being unsure of her identity, but when she walks in the fields, she feels a connection; she wonders what it was like "before".
"You can finish with your names," I say. "Tell your readers about your name."
She writes. We tweak. I get more goose bumps.
Her voice is ringing clear. She calls the piece, "Standing Tall" by Raelee DuBois. I print a hard copy for the next level of edits, tell her she'll need to sit with it a while. The ending still needs work.
I ask permission to share with Cathy, my principal. Raelee agrees, a surprised smile on her face. I make an extra copy, pop into Cathy's office, Rod is there, too, and say, "This is one of the best pieces of writing I've seen in years. Want to read it?"
I'm back in the classroom. Cathy comes to the door, wide-eyed, pointing at the paper. "This is amazing."
I point at Raelee who sits near the front of my tutorial classroom. Raelee looks at us, at me pointing at her. Cathy says again to Raelee, "This is amazing."
I'm walking home. It's a hazy, yet a white-light afternoon, sun behind full cloud cover. I'm texting with Keitha. I ask how her leg is. She asks how my day was, wonders if I'm cold. She has a letter for Michael. She offers to drop off at the school. I invite her for coffee in the morning and we can visit about our Community Outreach Christmas Dinner. I send a happy face and say I love her, and that she doesn't have to waste minutes texting back because I always know she loves me. (Keitha and her granddaughters always give me heck for not saying, "I love you" when I say goodbye to my family on the phone. So I ALWAYS tell Keitha and her girls, "I love you." Guess you had to be there.)
I'm not taking pictures, walking fast enough that my breath is a little short. At the ski hill the road begins to slope upward, getting steeper as I walk toward the coulee. I stop. I look at the water on the lake and breathe slow and deep. Thank you, I think. I look back toward the hills. Thank you for this day, for this walk. I breathe on purpose. I'm standing tall among the trees, just like Raelee. I start walking again, but I'm glad to have slowed down just a bit.