Counting Toward Home

6:30AM watch alarm

6:32AM back-up phone alarm

1 pot of coffee

3 under-the-bed checks for left-behind socks, chargers, books

5 bikes jigsawed onto the rack

8:24 AM departure

5 stops: doughnuts, gas/sandwiches/coffee/restroom, pizza/snacks/restroom, gas/restroom

4 weather shifts: cloudy to drizzly to snowy to rainy to cloudy

2 mountain passes

1/5 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Audible

2 catnips, about 15 minutes each

0 arguments (unheard of)

5 tired folks, a little sad to be going home, ready to be home

399 miles door to door

4:04 PM arrival

[This was an after-the-fact list. I think next time I will make my list as we go, so that I can be more specific, catch more of the detail. Still a fun exercise if only to think about what would improve it next time around. This could be done for anything.]

Bradbury Challenge (8)

Essay: Mark Sundeen, “Notes from a Moab Trailer” from Outside Online

The plum sent up a robust and mysterious new trunk, with green leaves instead of red. I learned that the ornamental species had originally been grafted onto a sturdier rootstock at the nursery. A new tree, not the one I thought I’d planted, was reborn.

I’m not sure I would have been drawn to this essay of my own accord, but it showed up in my inbox in the Longreads Top 5 picks this morning, and the article referenced Moab, which we could see in the rearview mirror as I pulled up the article to read on the drive home. It’s not my favorite read, but I can take away some things: it’s well-written and offers some insights into what keeps a person reading an almost 10,000-word essay that may not feel personally relevant; it explores ideas of home, identity, relationship, transformation, place; it spans a long period of time and shows how the author’s perspective shifts over that time. I also found a very personal, unexpected connection with the author. Near the end of the article, I discovered we shared an experience. It is amazing how one opens to another person when you know you have shared a similar grief. The metaphor of the plum tree is my favorite element of the essay: simple and beautiful.

Story/Poem: Nikki Grimes, Words with Wings


Say “waterfall,”

and the dreary winter rain

outside my classroom window

turns to liquid thunder,

pounding into a clear pool

miles below,

and I can’t wait

to dive in.

Today, I combine a very short book, written in verse for my story and poem of the day. I am gathering resources for teaching poetry, and this one arrived in my mailbox while I was gone. It’s a lovely story about a girl who is always daydreaming, and, therefore, always a little removed from the world around her. Her eye or ear catches a word and sends her on a mental journey: fly, concert, carousel, spring, roller coaster, comet, waterfall. She is transported, on a sensory level to other times and places, past and future, remembered and imagined.

I see so many ways to use this in the classroom, both for reading and writing. Nikki Grimes is prolific, her writing wonderful, and resources abound. I think we may focus in on a handful of her books for an author study.

3 thoughts on “Counting Toward Home

  1. What a great idea! I learned so much through your count to home. Zero arguments does seem a win! Also a little curious how five bikes get on a rack! Impressive. Hope you had a great trip!


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