Late November Reflections – 2021

These days, I do write a lot

as a way to rebalance after reading

volumes of student papers

I do love to work with students,

but I really do dislike grading –

playing the role of gatekeeper

because their future writing

may determine the treatment

and wellbeing of the people

they’ll serve in their jobs

as service providers, advocates,

or therapists for children, families, elders

or even for communities and governments

I wish more of them

would follow the advice

I shared at the beginning

of their first semester


By Bill Watterson, (1993, February 11). Available at GoComics

Sometimes it takes me hours

to plow through each paper

adjusting to each different topic

and each unique experiential perspective

carefully trying not to silence their voices

as I struggle to find just the rights words

to provide thoughtful feedback

without destroying self-confidence or souls

keeping in mind, of all things,

words from “The Fool’s Prayer”

“The ill-timed truth we might have kept –

Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?

The word we had not sense to say –

Who knows how grandly it had rung?”

(Edward Rolland Sill, 1936)

I keep that in mind

when I decide if and what

to post on this blog now

I don’t often post these days

In part because there’s too little time

for me to visit other’s blogs

or even reply to comments on mine

in a timely fashion

There’s another more important reason, too

I have begun self-censoring

what I’m willing to share

when my versions of truth

may be “ill-timed”

and only “pierce and sting”

evoking strong emotions

for no purpose other than venting

without any opportunity to provide

a “balsam for mistakes”


The uncensored excerpt from today’s reflection…

November 26

I greeted this morning with wonder, gratitude, and laughter

as I watched a fallen curled brown leaf

that appeared to be hovering just above the earth

sometimes dancing in a gentle breeze

Eager to see if I could capture the moment in a photo

I ran into the house to grab my iphone

As I adjusted the camera focus, I hit a wrong button

choosing video rather than photo which I quickly deleted

thinking to myself, “this would be a real sleeper”

It’s fascinating how quickly perspectives can change

in response to a chance encounter, though

late novemer 2021 dancing leaf

Still, like the leaf, I feel suspended

between different views of what is real

as my heart aches for the world in these tragic times

when myths and false hopes are the only option

governments have to offer to divert attention

away from the real global threats

posed by greed and unbridled consumption

That is no laughing matter –

but the little leaf was still hovering after this long reflection

Perhaps it’s a hopeful sign that things may not always be

as precarious as they appear to be at one moment in time

Work Cited:

Sill, Edward Roland (1936). The fool’s prayer. In H.S. Schweikert, R. B. Inglis, & J. Gehlmann (eds.), Adventures in American literature (pp. 670-671). Harcourt, Brace and Company.

An afterthought – After waiting patiently for hours for me to finish writing my reflection, the little dancing leaf was still standing, so I decided it deserves a debut…

20 thoughts on “Late November Reflections – 2021

  1. Carol,
    I appreciate your thoughtful reflections, just as you prepare to recalibrate when grading your students papers, before reading your reflections, I try to slow down and prepare my mind to receive kindhearted sagacity.

    “Grading of papers” sigh, I have been mentally digesting James Carse’s lecture on infinite and finite game theory and the part that keeps echoing in my mind is the “continued play” in the infinite game where all are welcome, no end to play, no winners or losers. The game has no end but rather a horizon, with milestones along the way..
    Your censored comment also rings true, sadly because of speaking my ill timed truth I have fractured a few relationships and have been left standing within a smaller circle, with “my truth”.. is this what a patriarch is supposed to do? Gibran wrote, “Wisdom is not in words, wisdom is the meaning “within” words”. Take Care my Friend. -Raymond ✌️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah, Raymond, it is always a gift to hear from you and read your always thoughtful comments. Thank you for your kindness, too.

      I love Gibran. I am sure he also pointed out that silence sometimes conveys more than words ever can. I don’t think that very wise advice for bloggers, though. 🙂

      Sending my best wishes, dear friend. 💜

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Your photo of the leaf is so beautiful, Carol. I feel the same and have taken photos and written poems about them. Your writing is filled with stillness and peace and every quote a wonder. Thank you.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Carol, it’s always a joy and blessing to hear from you 🙂 The fallen leaf that refused to settle on the ground brought to mind the futility of holding on to beliefs and behaviors that no longer serve the common good. Blessings ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Carol, what a splendid post! And yes, there are some unbelievably obtuse articles out there. Then there is climate change and a host of other topics that we must address and that become buried under deception and fog. But you know and have said this already, so I guess I am just agreeing. Anyway, I too find writing difficult right now, even without students and papers. I thought that retirement would make space for more writing but then the crazies barged in. Anyway, please keep writing and taking those perfect photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, Michael, it’s so delightful to hear from you! It has been a while since I have had a chance to visit your lovely blog. Thank you for sharing your kind words and thoughtful insights. Sending my gratitude and best wishes to you, 💜


  5. I see you give your students your best. It’s up to them after all. Like it was up to you learning from teachers that past on knowledge, so the world could be understood, and teachers that held you back. They were all important.

    Don’t ever think you are going to hamstring a student because of a comment or grade. You are a force that guides them among thousands of other forces. From what I see you are a dominant force. In other words, a great teacher who sometimes questions their ability. That’s good, that’s the way it should be. Pupils hate know-it-alls.

    Have you thought about another dog? There is plenty out there looking for someone. Maybe a yappy one that pees on the floor if not taken out on time.

    Loved that leaf elevating and the crows singing their praise to the grey end of November.

    Take care Carol. Sorry for the large puff of smoke in this comment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s funny, Bob. When I was revising the course in August, I couldn’t envision ever reaching the last classes given all of the crazing things happening in the world. But we have. And most of the students have taken on important issues like the effects of road salt on Lake Superior, the source of our drinking water, elevated lead levels for children in some local neighborhoods, and the effects of decades of industrial pollution for wild rice habitats. It’s a gift to be able to witness how much they have learned through their hard work.

      Ah, Pinto, my irreplaceable little companion. I miss him. Deeply. I have kept his little bed in it’s place with two of his favorite toys. My daughter bought me a replacement the day after Pinto’s death but I couldn’t accept the gift of little Oscar. He’s found a better home with my daughter’s two little dogs. He’s a special buddy for my granddaughter.

      Although I still miss Pinto every day, I don’t think I will ever adopt another dog for a variety of reasons. Caring for Pinto took a lot of time and it was incredibly expensive and heartbreaking because of all of the health and behavioral issues he brought with him from his past. I haven’t found good vets here, either, and their charges are outrageous. Thousands of dollars some years. But I do have a parakeet, Queenie, a lovely companion who is a wonderful singer. He’s much more melodic than the “singing parakeet” videos posted on YouTube.

      Thank you for watching the “dancing leaf” video. Believe it or not, it’s still dancing. This morning, it was dancing to the sounds of the salvaged windchime by my side door, cobbled back together after a squirrel chewed through the strings that held the chimes.

      Thank you for the “large puff of smoke.” I won’t apologize for responding with an even larger one, dear friend. Sending my best wishes. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

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