Thursday, October 27, 2011

Socks & Sandals

Fall is in full shebang. Cold nights, warm afternoons, chilly winds shaking yellow, red, orange leaves from trees. And noses running, of course. Friday morning awakened to a blanket of white fuzz- the First Frost. Of course, I was in a tent, snuggled in a sleeping bag wearing long johns. I continue to wear my sandals, sporting the ever-classic socks & sandals look. The kids really like my rainbow toe socks, and point out when my socks don't match (most days). I procrastinate buying a pair of shoes.

Speaking of kids, I am absolutely in LOVE with the group at my after school site. I found out this week that I will be transferred to another after school site, and my heart hurts. Tomorrow is my last day in paradise with my brood. They don't know yet :( On the good side, I have also jumped aboard the YMCA Garden Team. They are expanding the garden, and need an extra hand while a member is away for a few months. I'll be working on sheet mulching to make new soil, making raised beds with cob building, rainwater collection barrels, and will have a greenhouse to my disposal at the new after school site! I am SUPER STOKED!!

Also this week, I have a new reading group of 2nd graders- sweet, adorable 2nd graders! The other groups are going just swell. We're all in the groove and already I see them growing so much in their reading, it's so awesome! Even at After School, I have a little group of kindergartners that read to me. It's so much fun watching them learn!

But the highlight of recent past is LEAF. Last weekend, I volunteered at the festival. My soul was recharged. Emily, Ashley, Johnsie, Brianna, Otis and myself camped in a giant field with hundreds of other camps. There were some pretty legit setups with kitchens and huge tents and portable fire rings. We froze the first night and then brought a fire ring back after a jaunt into town for Make A Difference Day. The entire weekend was filled with awesome music, stellar people watching and friend making, volunteering jaunts that included sitting in front of a giant stone fireplace playing with little children, and camp food. Lake Eden is in a valley amongst rolling mountains that are vibrant with fall colors, especially amazing during sunset when everything is gilded. The two best parts: children climbing in trees and bushes all over the place all the time, and watching some of my kiddos from school performing with their LEAF In Schools and Streets teacher from Malawi.

This weekend, Abbie is coming to Asheville for Moogfest. I'm super stoked to see her, play tour guide, and Again... hopefully seeing The Flaming Lips, Passion Pit, Umphreys McGee, St. Vincent, and more.... for free... because I'm volunteering. Serious perks to being a professional volunteer :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Good Idea Days

A month without a post tells the tale of the constant adventure that I live in. With both morning and afternoon work placements in full swing, time has begun to race by. I can't keep track of hours, days, weeks or months at all. Rather, I sense time progressing by the increasing attachment growing for each of the kiddos I work with and the easier it gets to help them sound out a hard word, redirect them during chaos at After School, and the better my answer gets to the question, "What's wrong with your hair?".

Signs of settling in are more noticeable, and a regular routine of sorts has emerged. Mornings come to soon, but by the time the first group of kids tumble into the tutoring lab, I'm ready to face the day with a mug of tea. After a morning of tutoring kids in reading, I head to Carol's house for a daily lunch date followed by a blissful hour reading in a hammock before heading to my After School site and spend the afternoon hanging outside with an awesome group of kids, some days working with them in the garden, some days just playing in the woods.

Weekends still are full of volunteering at festivals. It is now Fall Carnival season for the schools, and of course, Americorps volunteers are involved at each one. Sundays, however, are Adventure Days, and remain Good Idea Days as well. Check out the pictures from each of the hikes!

9/25- Deep Gap Trail, Mt. Mitchell State Park with Graham, Marian, Chrissy, Austin, and Luna
An absolutely stunning hike along the ridgeline of the Black Mountains. The trail is 4.5 miles and crosses 4 peaks. We got as far as Mt. Craig (6,647 ft- 2nd highest peak East of the Mississippi!) before we had to turn back b/c of time, but I really want to do an overnight backpack trip on the full trail. Between the peaks, the trail winds through a mixed hardwood and spruce forest. Rocks and trees are covered in green moss and it smells like Christmas trees. Emerging from the forest at the peak reveals the rainbow of trees in full Autumn bloom. Easily my favorite trail.

10/2- Yoga on the Mountain Hike to Hemphill Bald with Emily, Cam, and Nathan

We arrived late and met a group of fellow yogis at the top of Hemphill Bald on the Cataloochee Ranch in Maggie Valley- a 2.5 mi hike through private, protected land. The view was magnificent, especially from downward facing dog, looking up at the sky. After our yoga practice, we hiked back down the mountain and from a distance saw two black bear cubs! After much discussion, we decided it was safe for our large group of 9 to continue, making lots of noise and song to warn Mama Bear of our presence.

10/9- Bradley Falls with Carol and Alyssa. Beautiful 80 ft drop waterfall over black rocks, surrounded by trees vibrant with yellow, red, green, and orange leaves. The trail is flat and roped with roots and the occasional fallen tree, splitting off to smaller trails frequently. One split off is a steep climb down the mountain to the river and bottom of the falls. It requires hands and feet, especially on the climb back up, clambering on a natural "staircase" of roots and boulders. One part requires rapelling down a 20 ft rock face using a rope installed on a tree. We picnicked just beneath the falls on a rock and sang silly songs. I took pictures with the film camera, they'll come later.