I love this guy. He is a Black-headed heron (Ardea melanocephala). These photos are not mine and have been mined from the web (see websites listed below).
There is one gentleman that "owns" are community garden. I generally see him in the mornings and evenings. He is magnificent. I'll bet he stands 4 feet high! One evening last week, I had entered the garden and wasn't aware when I saw this slender, tall, snakey-like thing moving through the back of the garden like a very tall snake. For a split second, I thought it was a snake, but it was my buddy, the black-headed heron that frequents are garden. He was unaware of me too, but the pigeons around him alerted him to my presence and off he flew. I think we both gasped at the same time.
I'm counting this week as my first real week, "back to school." Although I love teaching and feel I have gifts and talents there, I find the work frightening and draining. Deanna has commented that, by the middle of the semester, I'm usually "as flat as a pancake."
This week has felt especially tough, probably because things are still really chaotic and I'm still finding my footing. But the other reason, I haven't had time to "plan."
When teaching in the US, I generally use most of the semester breaks to plan my next semester's work. It is intense work that keeps me busy for a good three weeks. However, once the planning is complete, the classes are ready to go and the rest of the semester feels "easy." I have to make tweaks here and there when I find something's not working, but for the most part, after the planning, the semester and school work "flies itself."
In the fall of last year, both schools were in a flurry to complete and finish the school year. I asked and asked for someone to help me with planning for my classes in 2010. I was assured that planning would happen in December. In December, I'm still asking and everyone is smiling and the tune changes to, "Oh, we'll do the planning in January."
So, silly me thought that the educators would return to the school year early, for planning.
Oh wait... I have to pick myself up off the ground from laughing so hard.
Short story: there was no planning, there weren't even any textbooks. I received my text book for the Primary school and have been planning and prepping somewhat successfully since January. However, for the college, we still don't have a firm schedule, I've only NOW gotten a copy of the textbook, and am frantically trying to prepare a year that is already 5 weeks behind schedule with exams due to commence in 2 weeks.
Now, my friends and family KNOW how this makes me. Little miss karen who likes all of her ducks in a row.
Teaching has taught me to "fly by the seat of my pants." However, teaching has also taught me that the better planned you are, the better the classes go.
So, I am trying. Ke a leka.
But I've been exhausted this week.
One of the things I've learned in life is that I have three areas that need attention every single day: physical needs, emotional needs, and spiritual needs. For my spiritual needs, I need several sessions throughout the day for "quiet time" to nourish my spirit. I often read spiritual material, or pray, or try to quiet my mind for moments of meditation, etc.
On Tuesday this week I was sitting at my IMAX window opening a book for some spiritual reading when my friend, the black-headed heron caught my eye.
He had actually flown outside of the garden and was sitting in the middle of the soccer field. I couldn't imagine what he would do in the middle of the field so I started watching him. I only had a few minutes before I needed to run off to a staff meeting and remember thinking, "I shouldn't be watching him; I should be reading my meditations." Then, gratefully, I decided that watching the heron would be my spiritual practice for the day.
I watched him for quite a while and had great fun. After a while, he began to move his way across the soccer field toward the community garden. When he moves, as mentioned above, his head "snakes" along. The motion seems quite awkward and I often wonder of all of that neck-snaking makes him tired. The community garden is fenced, so when he finally arrived to the fence, he sat right down, just like a dog, and sat there watching the community garden. He sat and sat for the longest time, seemingly admiring the garden.
It was the best meditation I could have, especially in the middle of such a gruelling week.
Now, this other guy I've mentioned before, the Southern masked-weaver (Ploceus velatus). Last Sunday, I was running late for church. As I neared the college gate, I heard this great commotion. I looked up and guess what I saw? Yep, Mr. masked-weaver. He sat up in the top of a thorn-tree, as big as he pleased, hanging upside down and fluttering open his wings. He was chattering away, fluttering his wings (including his tail feathers!), and doing these lovely acrobatic moves. He was AMAZING. I couldn't help stopping to watch for awhile. (Don't worry--I still made it to church on time!)
After a few minutes of his performance, a female did, indeed show up. I'm told that the male has the responsibility of making a nest and the female decides if the nest is up to par. I'm told that if the female finds fault with the nest, it is destroyed and the male has to begin again with a whole new nest.
A male weaver flew to close to this pair and "my" weaver guy furiously chased him away. It was an enchanting few moments, watching the birds.
In my trials of this week, I've also been shown that there are others with daunting tasks. The photo of the gentleman below is cutting the soccer field, with a lawn-mower, in preparation for that night's soccer match. Ah, one could wish for a tractor...
ps: the photos of the birds have come from the following links: