Lights Off

Driving at night
Noticing lights
Shining inside
And outside
All the houses
In a variety of
Shapes and sizes
Perfectly lining
All the streets
Helping me
Find my way-
The Moon
Dimly shines
In the corner of my eye
A star or two, as well

Is there ever such thing as too much light?

Driving at night
Wishing on
Veiled stars
Too numerous
For my mind to hold
I know they are there
I’ve seen them before
Long to see them again
From my speck of Earth
For all the lights
To be turned off
To walk outside
Lay down on the grass
Look up, and marvel
As darkness disappears

Draw Close

Tiny lanterns
Too numerous
To count
Carefully drape
The night skies
A select few
Are strung
Between
Silhouetted
Pine branches
Beautifully
Complex
And yet
The simplest
Of words
Draw close
Twinkle, twinkle little star
Familiar tune
Quietly hums
In the night air
Star light, star bright
Innocent wishes
From days gone
Gently return
The simplest
Of words
Tiny lanterns
Driving the darkness away

Colorado sky at 3:00 A.M.

Stargazing

Lying on my back
In the driveway
At midnight-the stars
Were too many to count
Nothing to obscure
Their brightness

Sitting cross-legged
In the bed of a truck
Mountains rising above
Even more stars in the sky-
How could that be
With less sky to see?

Sitting quietly
In my backyard
Relaxing by the fire
Only a few of
The brightest stars
Remain visible

I know the others
Are still present
But their light
Has been dimmed
By the light of men
Even though it pales in comparison

The Order of Things

Mercury…Venus…Earth...
Reciting names
Of the planets
Sparked curiosity
Field trips to 
The planetarium
Came next in
The order of things
Sitting quietly 
In the dark space
Stars on the ceiling
Mars…Jupiter...
Even better, clear nights
Lying on the driveway
Watching and waiting 
Hoping to spot just one
Star shooting across the sky
I saw one the night my grandma died
Another step in
The order of things
Saturn…Uranus...
A late-night walk-
Kids in tow-
In the middle of
A familiar field
To a wooden platform
Moons of Jupiter
Rings of Saturn
Visible thru the lens
Of my Uncle's telescope-
Ever seen a star cluster? No
Look through the telescope.
See that hazy-looking area? Yes
Stare at it-stare through it-
Millions of stars
Instantly in view
Bound to each other by gravity
Neptune…Pluto...
Reciting names
Of the planets
Culminated in staring
At the night sky
Our family
Held together by
The gravity of stars


Sparks

One morning as students were entering school, a sweet 3rd grader told me she was writing a song. I was excited, of course, and suggested she write it down and bring it to music class. With a promise to do just that, she headed to class.

Fast-forward a couple of weeks. I had honestly forgotten about this earlier conversation. I am happy to say, however, that my student remembered. Not only had she remembered she recruited friends to help with her creative project.

As 3rd graders entered the music room this morning, I suddenly had five girls surrounding my desk. The original songwriter, an illustrator, and three additional singers. Excited about their collaboration, they asked if they could sing their song for me during class. Well, of course!

They sat back down, waiting for class to start. Their smiles were huge. As we waited for everyone to sit down, one member of the group brought me a folded piece of paper. “This is for you,” she smiled.

Unfolding the paper, I read song lyrics at the top of the page. I smiled as I read them.

🎶I look up at the night sky
I see all those stars up high
🎶

My heart instantly melted. Then I looked at the drawing. Music notes, stars, a ufo…and then I realized the girl in the picture is standing on the moon. The earth is in the distance behind her. Wow! What a creative perspective.

The surprises continued. Turning the paper over, I saw a list on the back. The credits. Songwriter, artist, and singers. Followed by a precious note:

Hope you enjoy!

This was the highlight of my day. No, of my week! These sweet girls and their precious song about the stars gave me a spark. A spark that will help me make it to Spring Break, one week away.

I am grateful for that much-needed spark, but it brings an important reminder. Kids need the chance to be creative, and I need to incorporate more time for creating in my classes. That means giving up some control. Being ok with a little controlled chaos, a little extra noise.

It is worth the effort. I have experienced it before. How easily I forget, caught up in my daily routine. Missing the opportunity to spark some creativity, and receive sparks of encouragement myself.

🎶What do you think?
Is this the night to dream?
🎶

Going to Mars

Since I was a little girl, I’ve always been fascinated with the moon, the planets, and stars. Being far away from the city lights, able to see uncountable numbers of celestial objects, was something I looked forward to. I don’t even begin to understand the science behind these bodies. What are they made of? How long have they been shining? Will they burn out? Despite my lack of scientific knowledge, my fascination is not diminished.

Today was an exciting day! NASA sent another object to Mars-the InSight Lander. It has been traveling on a seven-month, 300-million-mile journey, and today was landing day! Apparently, it is supposed to spend two years studying the inner workings of the planet by measuring seismic activity. I know enough to understand that means earthquakes on our planet.

My point is not understanding all of the science behind today’s events or their purposes for our society. It’s really about curiosity and how events such a this spur the imagination. Sharing this information with some of my students, watching live while the scientists waited on the landing, their anticipation and excitement were contagious.

Even though we could not visibly see the InSight Lander, there was a countdown scrolling along the bottom of the screen. With each goal that passed-heat shield working-heat shield separating-parachute deploying-students would gasp as if they’d been holding their breath. Once the landing was announced, they clapped and cheered right along with the scientists in that NASA project control room.

Of course, there were some funny moments too. More than one precious kiddo asked, “Are we sending a man to Mars or just a robot?” “Mrs. Morris, I’m so excited about a person going to Mars!” “Not a person…not a person.” Also a few concerned, confused looks. Possibly related to watching too many sci-fi movies or playing too many video games. With a little reassurance and my simplified explanations, they were at least able to understand the basics of what was happening, and know that we were not being attacked by Martians.

I’m sure there will be some interesting conversations tonight if students are asked what they did in music class today. Who knows? Maybe that little detour from our music lesson sparked some new interest. It certainly reminded me of the beauty not only in our world but also in our universe.

We may not be able to see it all up close and personal, but we can appreciate it by simply gazing at the night sky, looking through a telescope, or viewing images taken in space and transmitted back to Earth…from a camera on a capsule…which traveled for seven months…and then landed on Mars.

I can’t wait to show my students the first image that was sent back from the surface of Mars today!