|Dear Lehman community,
Enjoy your day off. You all deserve it. This is a great day to catch up on work, a book you are reading or a television series you enjoy watching.
I never appreciated the idiom, “stop and smell the roses” when I was a child and then a young man. “It’s a cliché,” I’d always say. As I approach my 50th birthday, I’ve come to realize that I missed many opportunities to slow down and appreciate all the beauty that has surrounded me throughout my life. Right now my boys are happily engrossed with video games, books and homework. They are “multi-tasking” and I have decided to not voice my concern and displeasure. Miraculously, my wife is resting. She deserves it and desperately needs it.
Outside my front window I can see a typical Brooklyn street that is blanketed by pools of brown slush and tire mark smears. But when I tilt my head to the left and up just a few inches, the street disappears and all that is visible are the branches of an American Elm lightly covered with snow. Today I am going to watch this tree and not the street nor the amount of snow that has fallen. I will take another look at the tree later after I finish reading several chapters of a new book on jazz I recently purchased. And then later I will look again after I complete several action items for LHS. And finally, after dinner tonight, I will look at the tree in the darkness and in the glow of one street lamp.
Is there something or someone you have overlooked today?
Below is a poem by Robert Frost. I love this poem for several reasons:
First, it uses iambic tetrameter, which is a fancy way of saying that each line of verse has eight syllables whose rhythmic pattern is defined by consecutive unstressed/stressed beats. The poem is often read aloud in a “sing song” type of way that also includes stopping at the end of each line, which is not the way to read this poem and most poems.
Second, it references “snow,” a “horse,” and a “lake” and has a rhyme scheme that seems to suggest something childish and insignificant about the poem, especially to young readers. And yet, the poem is anything but childish; it is serious, philosophical and ambiguous in a way that makes it a great poem.
There are lots of ways to teach this poem: You can use anticipation guides, drawing exercises, and the elements of fiction (point of view, setting, character, plot and theme) to help students make meaning of the poem.
The poem is included here for one reason and one reason only: To give thanks to our humanity. In the midst of a world gone mad, we still have the opportunity to reflect on the beauty that exists in our lives and that we often overlook because we are so darn busy pursuing dreams and degrees and working hard at our jobs and ensuring that we can take care of ourselves and our families.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
By Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Here is hoping that Spring is as beautiful as this snowy, winter day!