A Day for Watering

Don’t take my bike away for saying this, but sometimes walking is better than cycling.  Wait, before you stab my bike tires and spit in my water bottles, hear me out.  Sometimes I need to look at things at an even slower pace.  Those of you who have ridden with me before are balking already because surely there can’t be anything slower than me slugging along on The Rocket.  Sometimes I just need to stroll and inhale the crisp air and squat down on the ground and look at stuff, really look at stuff.

That Laura & I walked along the river the other day, the winter wind whipping my camera strap as I happily snapped away, trying to make some sense of my new camera.  We walked into the arboretum, one of my favorite places on the trail because a new surprise waits around every corner.

Take the Monkey Puzzle Trees for one.  Just looking at their sparse, prickly branches makes me laugh.

And when I start to compose myself again, I think of the name ‘Monkey Puzzle Trees’ and I’m in stitches all over again.

Until the other day, I’d never taken the branch of the path that leads to a little bridge called Charlotte’s Crossing.  I was mooning over it already because I’m the teacher who cries every year when I read the end of Charlotte’s Web.  Then Charlotte herself greeted us and I thought I was going to straight swoon.


So by the time I saw Charlotte’s charming children climbing the sides of the bridge, I was downright giddy.  Not to mention that blue sky in the background.  I love sunny winter California days.

Charlotte’s Children

A few steps later I spotted this petite pile of stones.  Something about the balance required to stack stones always makes me stop and pause.

And then I turned a corner and saw these.

We meandered along the trail and ducked into the Children’s Sculpture Garden where “Mosaic Oasis”, a sculpture by Colleen Barry, sits as the crowning jewel in the garden.

“Mosaic Oasis” by Colleen Barry

I could stay at this sculpture for hours, running my fingers over each tile.  I mean just look at these ladybugs creeping along.  Don’t they make your fingers itch to do crayon rubbings?

Everywhere you look there’s a new treasure to behold, like this little heart marked with love.


Or Lady Liberty standing tall amongst other shining jewels.

And then there are the dragonflies.  Small dragonflies skitter and flit in and out of the mosaic, but this is the one that makes my heart leap into my throat.  It’s staggeringly beautiful.

Dragonflies skitter.

In the center of the mosaic on the back side of the dragonfly is this gorgeous tree.


And because I adore, adore, adore the plaque accompanying the tree, here’s a closer look.

Prepare the child.

On a scale of 1-10 how weird would it be to tattoo that quote to my forehead for every parent to see?  11?  Oh well, I’m afraid of needles anyway.

And then, as if the Mosaic Oasis wasn’t full of enough wonder, there are the giant insect sculptures.  Isn’t this ladybug just absolutely begging for a smooch?

Pucker up!

And then there’s the giant metal dragonfly sculpture.  Be.  Still.  My.  Heart.

dragonfly taking flight

I’ve died and gone to Heaven.  Look at the details in the face.  I’m absolutely smitten with this dragonfly.

bug-eyed wonder

The Children’s Sculpture Garden brims with magic.  Even a glimpse through the spindly branches of Harry Lauder’s walking stick revealed this quaint, blue house.

blue house

As the light began to fade, That Laura and I turned back toward the trailhead.  On the path we spotted this stencil of a woman watering her plant.

watering woman

We hurried up the last hill back to the car and as we did, I couldn’t help but feel that this walk had watered a parched part of me, a part of me in desperate need of a day to slow down and drink it all in.

Thankful Thursday #54

This week I’m thankful for…

  • forgiveness
  • time with my little ones
  • good food and good company
  • not having to wait until Daylight Savings to check my smoke alarm batteries
  • my husband who stood on the ladder fanning the smoke alarm until it stopped beeping while I tried in vain to salvage brinner
  • the dad who thanked me for making art lessons a part of regular instruction and giving his son an outlet for his artistic side
  • crisp winter mornings perfect for walking to work
  • photography lessons with my stepdad.  Just look at how he used my camera strap to hide my extra chins.  The man’s a genius..

Conversations from Room 8

The last couple of days have been extra sweet in Room 8.  My little ones are happy to see each other, happy to be back at school, just happy in general.  Here are some of my favorite conversations from the last couple of days.


Me: You remember how to do this.  You use your fingers to partner up the number to see if it’s even or odd.

Little One with Autism: I know it’s in my head somewhere, but I can’t find it.

Me: I know the feeling.

Little One: Can you help me find it?

Me: Sure.  Let me show you on your hand.

Little One: My hand will help my brain find the answer?

Me: Yep, I think so.

Little One: Oh good.


Mother of a Little One: How’s my daughter doing?  Is there anything else we should work on at home?

Me: She’s doing great.  She’s reading well and doing well in math and writing.  And she seemed really happy to return to school yesterday.

Mother: Oh yes, she was very happy.  After three days of  vacation she said ‘Mommy, it’s time for me to go back to school because I can’t remember the sound of my teacher and I don’t want to forget her.”

And then my heart melted into a huge puddle.


Little One: “Mrs. McCauley, I found my happy place.”

Me: “I didn’t know you’d  lost it.  Where did you find it?”

Little One: “It was in the box of pastels.”

Me: “Wow!  Then I guess it’s a good thing we’re doing art today.”

Little One: “I think I have art in my heart.”

Me: I’m sure of it.


Little One: “Martin Luther King, Jr. was really brave.  It took a lot of courage for him to talk to all of those people about his dreams.”

Me: “I agree.”

Little One: “Especially since not everyone agreed with him.”

Me: “Especially.  I bet you can be courageous like him, too.”

Little One: “Maybe now I can.”

Me: “Why now?”

Little One: “Because you put his words in my head and I have his big dreams in my heart.”

Sometimes being a teacher is staggeringly beautiful.  And in case you need his words in your head and big dreams in your heart, here’s Martin Luther King, Jr. himself.  I get chills every time I hear this speech.

Thankful Thursday #53

Image courtesy of fotolog.com

This week I’m thankful for…

  • sunny days when I left the car in the garage and walked or rode The Rocket to my destinations
  • waking up without an alarm clock
  • helping friends learn new technology
  • an organized house
  • my wedding dress, all wrapped up and pretty in the box these 15 years
  • soup on crisp days
  • cleaning out the garage while wearing my pajamas because I don’t have to get dressed if I don’t want to
  • catching up with friends over leisurely breakfasts
  • dates with my mom
  • piping hot bowls of steel-cut oatmeal
  • going to the movies in the middle of the day