Thursday, 7 May 2009

When I was 12.

I had an algebra teacher when I was twelve that I adored. Not because of what he taught, but what he represented. Mr Sun* always had a sparkling smile for you, and in his big, raw-boned height (he was 6'2" at least) he had a way of leaning back to look at you like he was measuring you up.

I stunk at algebra but I scored at animals, which was Mr. Sun's other love. He loved birds. Chickens, he had a dozen breeds, quail, pheasants, geese, turkeys...the man was a whiz with animals.

We'd talked about his geese on and off for a long time before he showed up out at our farm on a Saturday morning with something cupped in his hands. My mom yelled for me outside (heck, I was always outside) and I came running in to have him dump what he held in his big, wrinkly hands into my berry-stained and scratched ones.

It was a goose egg. What's more, it was getting ready to hatch.

And sure enough, as he watched me, all tickled with his hands shoved down into his pockets (he was about 3/4 Native American, and really handsome in his old way) that egg hatched in my hands. A fuzyy, fluffy baby goose that looked at me with his shoe-button eyes and nibbled my hand, oh-so-gently.

And thus began the reign of Arthur The Goose.

He hated everybody - but me. He was a cannibal the first few weeks of his life, gobbling up scrambled eggs like there was no tomorrow. He'd chase my brother and twist a piece out if he ever came outside, and never got a chance with my sister, seeing as she was never outside.

We'd go exploring down in the river bottoms, just a girl and her goose, and he'd practice his swimming and his wing-beating and I'd try to catch fish with my bare hands or climb a low-hanging tree.

He loved the wild Canadian geese we'd get coming through the plains in fall, and he wanted so much to be counted a part of their group. He never gave up - always swimming up to them, eating with them, and trying with everything he had to be a wild one. Until one day he disappeared with the last group flying through, and I never saw him again.

Mr. Sun said (when I asked him in tears why Arthur would leave) 'He wanted to fly, child.'

Later on now, in life, I'm the same as Arthur was. Trying so hard to be the writer that works to the next step, always pressing for the next sentence, the next idea, the next book.

I want to fly, too...and I'm skimming the top of the lake, which is farther than I've ever got.

So I won't give up. I'll go forward with my beak out and wings flourished.

* Name changed to protect the innocent


Stephen Parrish said...

Good stuff! You could turn this into something like Rascal by Sterling North.

marsh to the fore said...

I totally agree with Stephen Parrish. This, Jen, you've got to write. I love that teacher.

I love that you're using that picture on the blog!

Heidi said...

It's the bird version of Possum Summer! :)

What a great teacher, a great story, and a great analogy.

Indeed... you are on the verge of flying very high!

Kerri said...

What a lovely story. I love great teachers. I guess you weren't a typical student either.

Heidi the Hick said...

Oh my gosh, this is so wonderful and I almost missed it!

Peter said...

I think there's a novel in that thar' story somewhere.. :)

Thanks for sharing it!