We had a special afternoon last week when my Kindergarten teacher paid us a visit. We’ve been friends for 30 years now and sharing our girls and our home with her was one of the highlights of Christmas vacation.
Not only was she my first school teacher, but I knew her through our childhood church and the summer camp I went to since I was a wee one. She played the role of Mother Nature at camp and took us on nature tours of the lake via canoe and encouraged us to taste Indian Cucumber, aka tender cattail hearts. She showed us the beauty of the constellations on the dock under starry summer skies, she took us on night hikes to listen for owls and sniff around for the fragrant sassafras with its beautiful, unique leaves. The other campers and I would huddle together through the darkened woods while munching on the spicy stem. I have such vivid memories of those nights and can still clearly see the spot we hiked up to deep in the woods in order to sit still and call for owls and listen to the creatures of the night begin to stir around us.
When I graduated from high school she gave me my first books of Michigan birds and wildflowers. I thumbed through the birds book when looking for names for my children, hence the names we settled on: Wren and Phoebe.
She’s also an incredible storyteller and strong believer in the spirit world. She told some very spooky ghost stories at camp and now she is often invited to people’s homes or buildings to witness the spirits and take photographs of orbs. She is currently working on a book about ghosts in the town of Romeo where I grew up.
I’m so grateful for her presence in my life over the past 30 years and owe her so much for sharing with me such a deep and curious appreciation for nature. It was so special to spend the afternoon with her and have her read meaningful, timeless books and play thoughtfully with the girls, talk about our gardens, hear about her recent travels and spirit encounters in the areas where the Japanese Internment camps were held and see some of the orbs she’s captured with her camera. Her enthusiasm for so many different aspects of life, innate sense of adventure, and desire to share the joy and wonder of children is contagious.
Feeling so grateful and inspired and wishing I could always have my Kindergarten teacher around. So much to glean from so many years of devoted experience with wee ones! It really does take a village, no?