Soul Coal; Taking Care of the Teacher


Finding a way to refuel and revitalize is a regular pursuit for me as a teacher.

For the most part, inspiration simply bubbles up from working with the children, but this past week, we had a break in between the sad and bittersweet goodbyes to children leaving our school and the Summer tinkering camps. With empty walls and the quiet rooms, it is hard to muster the thing that would get the soul coal burning bright.

In most instances, I must venture out and about town for inspiration. Museums, thrift shops, and now, the internet. This last time though I found something in the basement of the school! Two years ago, the Tracks children painted these large strips of shades of moonlight and of sunlight. At the time, I imagined that we would hang these during our annual art show. For reasons now forgotten, these collaborative paintings were stored on a shelf and pushed to the back of that shelf as the months rolled on.

I found the carefully folded paintings as I was looking for something else (which, of course, I am still looking for) and I thought, I have an idea! Sometimes, this is all it takes...a precious find, it sparks a fond memory -- this one of the 18 children gathered together, the tables all pushed to the edges of the room and these long strips of paper rolled out on the floor, and layer upon layer of paint shared amongst friends. Then it is connected to the imagination -- what if? -- I can't hang them from a branch, but why not wrap the trees like those fabulous urban knitters?

A stapler and a ladder was all that was needed to refill and relight my soul coal. The paintings are out and will be seen in the morning by tinkers arriving for camp. More importantly, the image of these colors and the memories they bring to mind are exactly the salve that was needed. Temporary perhaps, while we wait for winds or a rainstorm, but a thing of beauty and of wonder to behold and in turn hopefully, to inspire others.