Monday, April 14, 2008

With Spring come thoughts of Shakespeare...and Sugar Snap Peas

My students have turned in their poetry books, and it's on through the curriculum hike into Shakespeare. We "bridged" today with sonnets, which went better than I expected. The typical bugaboos: it's hard, he's not speaking English (?!), I don't get iambic pentameter. Beautifully, we avoided most of them. I started with a quick activation of background knowledge, and then I took the first line of sonnet 130 (My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun) and put one syllable on ten sheets of paper. The unstressed syllables were written normally, the stressed were in bubble letters. I got ten volunteers (one for each syllable page) to come to the front of the room, and we practiced saying the line in sing-song quiet BOLD voices. When were were done, I had the volunteers pair up into their "iambs" and we defined iambic pentameter. Every kid seemed to get it. Then we read sonnets and talked about them, and the kids defined the form and worked on tackling their own. All in all, a good beginning to the unit.

To add to my good day at work, when I got home the sun was still shining and it was in the 50's, so I planted some seeds! I worked in about 180 pounds of compost (wow--when I write that it sounds like a lot more than it felt like while I was doing it...) and planted radicchio, fennel, arugula, sugar snap peas, kale, radishes, swiss chard, huazontle (Aztec/Mexican spinach) and spinach. I was so overly excited my husband has taken to calling me Garden Geek.

After a yummy dinner (Rachael Ray's Artichoke and Spinach Pasta--like the appetizer, only with pasta) we took the pups for a long walk. There was a huge freighter being maneuvered through Quincy Bay into the Fore River, so we watched it and its three tugboats for awhile. I love ships; they're so massive and airy and squat and graceful all at the same time. This one was riding pretty low in the water, so we figure it had some freight to deliver. She was called Sylvia's Express--not an especially glamorous name, but a very imposing sight none the less.

Our walks are especially wonderful right now. "Nature's first green is gold," and it's showing up all over the neighborhood. Their are daffodils and hyacinths everywhere, and the forsythia are beginning their golden showers of bloom. The neighborhood has a few large magnolias, and their creamy pinkish white blooms are filling the air with their scent. Plants are leafing out all over, and I find myself walking around saying things like, "Hello, Mr. Catmint! It's so great to see you back!" Garden Geek, indeed. It is a label I wear happily, though.

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