First Impressions of a Fall Semester

The fall semester started at my community college August 21st and so far it’s been a solid three weeks. A fellow colleague mentioned that there “seemed to be something different in the air this semester” and it got me thinking about some of the things I’ve observed over the past few weeks.

1. The enthusiasm for extracurricular activities on campus is increasing. This may seem like an odd observation given that I work at a college, but our students are all commuters, so sometimes drawing them towards student organizations and community service events can be tricky. They are pulled between work, family and classes, so when we had our annual activities fair the second week of school it was a pleasant surprise to see lots of new and returning students signing up for email lists and asking questions about how to get involved.

2. Our campus feels more like a campus. When I began teaching at my community college, the campus consisted of two buildings at our downtown location. This past spring we moved into a brand new academic building that houses offices, student lounges, classrooms, a food court and a coffee bar. We recently finished construction on our new culinary building and we now have a skywalk that joins two of the busiest buildings on campus. I love walking into my building in the morning and seeing students line up to buy coffee.

3. Students seem more organized and better prepared for classes. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule, but I think our increased attention to new student orientation has helped in terms of teaching students how to be students. A lot of our students are non-traditional, so assimilating back into a college environment presents a whole other set of challenges.

I’m embarking on some new projects this semester as well and I’m reminded of how much I like the energy and excitement that comes with a new semester. Here’s hoping that energy continues. 

Gobble, gobble, gobble…

This is the second Thanksgiving that RJ and I are spending together but not with our respective families. The first took place in Texas in November 2003. I was attending grad school and RJ was driving all over hell for his consulting job. We sat in my little studio apartment eating steak and drinking beer. Eight years later we will be spending Thanksgiving with other friends in Indy who have families in distant states like New York, Pennsylvania and yes, Texas.

This morning I will be participating int this event:

I feel a 2.5 mile run justifies the food I will consume later on.

To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, 
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
 
~John Keats 
 


Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to officially say goodbye to autumn. I always feel that after Thanksgiving winter is whistling in the eaves and I can already feel the temperature dropping. Fall is my favorite season and this fall was especially lovely, so a few images to send fall out on a good note. See you in 2012.

Squash blossoms.

Pumpkins at the orchard.

Goldenrod on a walk in our neighborhood.

Ashley likes cider. Also, you should read her blog.

Thursday (A Precious 30 minutes to Update…) Musings






These are photos from Eagle Creek Park and Anderson Orchard. We went to both places last weekend and it was great. I love fall.

This week is proving to be just as busy as last week. I’m sure there is something I’m supposed to be doing right now besides updating my blog, but I think my brain is starting to give in to all the information I’m trying to cram in to it.

Here are a few poems that are collecting dust on my desk:

Wild Peaches

When the world turns completely upside down
You say we’ll emigrate to the Eastern Shore
Aboard a river-boat from Baltimore;
We’ll live among the wild peach trees, miles from town.
You’ll never wear a coonskin cap, and I a gown
Homespun, dyed butternut’s dark gold color.
Lost, like your lotus-eating ancestor,
We’ll swim in milk and honey till we drown.

The winter will be short, the summer long,
The autumn amber hued, sunny and hot,
Tasting of cider and scuppernog;
All seasons sweet, but autumn best of all.

Elinor Wylie

Devotion: Hawk

I know spring by the hawk pinning down songbirds
in my neighbor’s yard,
the little Ophelias crying in their blown-away silks
that the sky
has lied, a hedge has lied.
Then the pool
of chaos — the hawk in clench and drill and
thresh.
How quickly the song goes out of them. The
aftermath, soft,
circular. A labyrinth in ruins
I let the wind blow through
for days.
And then the rain, its soaking drench. Sun.
On the back porch slab the arterial runs of worms
dried
to a beaten silver even the stars might envy.
The trails a Silk Road crawled
body and spice
to the far cities, moist domains. And so now I stand
and the moon hangs as bold
as talon.
The black teeth whisper — narrow seeds — as the column
fills. The dead are not my worry,
slave to song.
Finch: come back. Cardinal, wren.
That one bird on that one branch
like Coltrane
on a cylinder of smack.
From high in the stacks of the power plant
where it nests,
the hawk banks
the pollen-heroined air of the neighborhood, sifts for
sparrow, muscle and throat.
Dennis Hinrichsen

Tuesday (Autumnal Equinox) Musings

According to the calendar, this morning marks the end of summer. I wrote a poem this morning that’s tentatively titled “Autumnal Equinox,” so it seems appropriate to send summer on its way. Fall is my favorite season and I’m always glad when the air cools and I start seeing apples and pumpkins popping up all over the place.

Fall in Connecticut

Leaves fall from the trees
but words multiply on people.
Small red fruits prepare
to stay under the snow and stay red.
The wild games of children
have been domesticated.
On the wall, pictures of winners and losers,
you can’t tell them apart.
They rhythmical strokes of the swimmers
have gone back into the stopwatches.
On the deserted shore, folded beach chairs
chained to each other, the slaves of summer.
The suntanned lifeguard will grow pale inside his house
like a prophet of wrath in peacetime.

Yehuda Amichai

Wednesday (neglected blog) Musings

Yes, I have been neglecting my blog. Yes, I am insanely busy. Yes, I have been at school until 5 almost every day this week. No, that may not seem like a long time except I usually get there between 6:30-7 in the morning.

Bah.
______________________________________________________________________

Your weekly fall poem that is woefully late. All apologies…

Autumn Birds

The wild duck startles like a sudden thought,
And heron slow as if it might be caught.
The flopping crows on weary wings go by
And grey beard jackdaws noising as they fly.
The crowds of starnels whizz and hurry by,
And darken like a clod the evening sky.
The larks like thunder rise and suthy round,
Then drop and nestle in the stubble ground.
The wild swan hurries hight and noises loud
With white neck peering to the evening clowd.
The weary rooks to distant woods are gone.
With lengths of tail the magpie winnows on
To neighbouring tree, and leaves the distant crow
While small birds nestle in the edge below.

John Clare

________________________________________________________________

I’ve introduced my creative writers to flash fiction and they’re taking to it like ducks water. I think they’re intrigued by the compression of language and ideas required in flash fiction. Also, let’s face it, flash fiction is cool. In order to give them a wide variety of examples, I bought Flash Fiction edited by James Thomas, Denise Thomas & Tom Hazuka. They compiled flash fiction from the likes of Raymond Carver, Julia Alvarex, Joyce Carol Oates, David Foster Wallace, and John Updike just to name a few. I’ve been reading all night an pulling examples I think my class will like. I’m looking forward to class tomorrow.

I met with the blank page again today, but our group was a bit small. We’re received the go ahead from the library for our National Novel Writing Month project, but I might have to tweak it a bit in order to get in done in a time frame that is realistic for our members.

______________________________________________________________________

My department chair gave me this Salvador Dali print to help me battle aganist my depressing white walls. Gotta love Dali…

Tuesday (yawn) Musings

I’m tired. It’s Tuesday afternoon. This is not a good sign. I need to stop scheduling my weekends so tightly because I’m not getting a chance to recharge which will only lead to bad things.

Today feels especially fall like. Although, I have not seen a window since my 11:00 class, so it could be balmy and sunny by now.

Coughing and sniffling has started. Bah.
_______________________________________________________________________

This is kind of unfortunate. You know things are backwards when a dance studio is being put out by a Banana Republic.

This is really unfortunate.

Tuesday Musings

Over the weekend I got my hair cut. I now have bangs for the first time in about 5 years and I love them. Change is good!
___________________________________________________________________________

I was reading the Elegant Variation earlier today and came across one of Joshua Henkin’s 24 posts that he did for M. Sarvas while Sarvas was off traveling the world. The man is a posting machine, but he mentioned a writing exercise that I am now determined to do with me creative writing class (that begins in about two weeks). He suggested cutting off the end of a short story and allowing the student to write their own version. In a way, I’m surprised this exercise didn’t occurr to me earlier, because I love things like this that stretch the mind, but I’m definitely going to try it now.

I checked Sarvas’s novel “Harry, Revised” out of the library but have yet to dive into it. Too many books, too little time.
______________________________________________________________________

I’m very tired today. I only get up really early (5 AM) to go to the gym once a week, but that once a week is brutal. Early to bed this evening…

Somewhere, somehow, fall arrived. I was conscious of it on my calendar and through my poetry (hence your regular fall poetry posting, which will be continuing through October) but I had not noticed any drastic changes in the landscape until yesterday while Iwas walking Kwe. Leaves are changing and in some instances, already falling. The air is crisper and I think I saw a pumpkin on a stand the other day…
_______________________________________________________________________

The cover of this weeks NewYorker makes me chuckle