Summer!

Hello, and happy, happy June! I can now say that school is over; finals are graded, my classroom is cleaned out, and I’m sitting in Steamboat after several awesome days of adventuring. I’m already planning and dreaming about what I want to do differently next year, but I’ve been doing it while playing in the mountains.

I’m going to make one thing really clear first. I do not know a single teacher that takes the summer “off.” Not one. I have 100% flexibility in where and how I choose to work, and that’s a glorious thing. I definitely don’t work 40 hours a week on school in the summer. I choose to go to professional developments and such, and I’m not complaining whatsoever! I love the summer work I do. But when people ask me if I became a teacher because I get summers off, I have to work really hard to remember that they likely don’t understand what it means to be a teacher and I should try to explain it.

Whew. Now that I’ve got that off my chest…

I have been playing outside nearly every day so far this summer, and I am a very, very happy human being. Graduation for Longmont was actually last Saturday, and I worked really hard to make sure everything was done by the end of the day on Saturday. Then, the mountain time began!

I started hiked on Sunday by going to Mallory Cave in Chautauqua Park. I didn’t climb the rock up to the cave itself because the bats were having their bat babies (batlings?), but it was a beautiful climb. Along the way I saw a four-year-old girl explaining erosion to her patient mother, a brother and a sister exclaiming over ants marching in a line, and two twenty-somethings reading about the bats on the informational sign below the cave. Science education for the win!

On Monday I hiked in Chautauqua again, this time towards Saddle Rock. There’s a large rock ridge up there I like to get on top of, and Paige (who teaches math at Longmont with me) was willing to scramble up with me! We bailed pretty quickly when we saw dark clouds rolling in, and sure enough it started pouring just as I dropped her off at her apartment.

On Tuesday I spent all day repotting my plants from my classroom, doing yoga, and packing to go to Steamboat. Wednesday was similarly mellow, consisting of me driving and spending a significant chunk of time digging through the new textbook I’m working with for piloting next year. (It’s BSCS’s fifth edition of A Human Approach, if anyone has anything I should know about it!) Mom and I sat at the dining room table together, nerding about naturalism and pedagogy and everything in between. On Thursday I played around on my yoga mat, worked through more of the textbook, devoured a really good novel called The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom, and knitted on the front porch swing.

But the mellow time ended quickly when Friday came around. Mom and I got up early and hiked up the road on Emerald Mountain to the quarry. This was followed by an afternoon bike ride up very different trails to the same quarry (out Bluff’s, up Lupin all the way to the quarry, then down Blair Witch, down Larry’s, and down the lower section of NPR, if you’re a Steamboatian or curious). Getting up there twice in one day was a good way to make my legs a little tired.

But I wasn’t done yet. Yesterday I put my bike on the back of a car and drove to the Lower Bear trailhead, which is nearly all the way to the Strawberry Park Hot Springs. It’s not a super long ride, only three miles, but I had forgotten how steep it is! It gives great views back towards town and the ski area, so it’s totally worth it.

And this morning I hiked up Fish Creek canyon to the second set of waterfalls. I’ve never figured out quite how far it is – the trail continues past the second falls to Long Lake – but it’s rather steep and absolutely beautiful. The trail was dry but the water was really high. I love watching the falls when there’s that much water pouring over them.

I promptly returned and fell asleep on the couch for an hour. Hooray for summer!

There are many things I love about summer. I love the long hours of sunlight. I love how I don’t feel rushed or under pressure to get stuff done. I love that I can come up to Steamboat and hang out with my family. And I really, really love being outside. I love watching the trees bud out, identifying wild flowers, hearing the wind through the pines, the way the woods smell, the feel of my hiking boots, the way I can roll through switchbacks on my bike, all of it. I love all of it.

I’m currently a little bit sunburned, a little bit bug-bitten, a lot sore, and wondering how I can get outside more during the school year. I’m thinking this is pretty critical for my sanity right about now.

Your homework: Where is your favorite place to get outside? What’s your favorite method of getting there?

Hej då,

Jamie