Thursday 25 September 2014

Being Chill

I'm often described as a "chill" teacher by my students.  I've been pondering this label, and I've made at least one small link to how this "chillness" was born.

Back in my high school in rural Ontario one could get time off just by saying, or people even thinking, that you were hunting.  There were always a few days during duck and/or deer season where it was acceptable to be away.  "He's hunting" is pretty much all you'd have to tell the teacher; not even a note was required.  There were too many kids away for them to chase us all down.

French was not a hunter, but he knew his buds would cover for him.  Pancake let all the teachers know that French was "hunting" and he was gold.  I saw right away that French was ditching school, so I snuck out midweek to see what he was up too.  He was in his shed.  There was a small fire going to push back the October cold.  French was on his bunk reading East of Eden.  French held up a finger, read a few more lines, took a drag from his cigarette and handed me a beer.

I asked him "Whatcha reading?"  He said "Steinbeck"  He'd started reading it the previous week while on detention outside the VPs office.  The previous detainee had left in on a table.  French got hooked once the character Cathy was introduced: "This Cathy girl scares the living shit outta me."   French skipped because there was an open excuse, and a chance for him to be alone and just read, play some guitar, and listen to some tunes.

I always remember this moment, and chill, prior to chastising skippers.

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Closing Time

It was cottage closing time this past weekend.  Cold, and rainy too.  It was also dump closing day as well. So French and I hurried up, so we could catch a few minutes with Bruce and Rose Fish.

Bruce Fish was in a chipper mood, even though he was mucking out a dump.  I asked him why he was so happy sorting trash and recycling in the cold pouring rain.  He let me know. Turns out a local farmer had hired him to clean out his "old tip" as he called it.  There was decades of ancient trash, and all kinds of mechanical farm debris. There were even old cars with trees growing up through them.  Bruce pulled it out and brought four truck loads to the dump.

Rose walked by a threw an big gear up onto their truck, and said "that is the last of it".  Bruce and Rose had sorted and set aside all the salable metal.  They planned on driving it into Kingston that afternoon and sell it all for a tidy amount.

Bruce said: "sorry lads we gotta run.  There's at least 700 bucks a metal here."

As the drove out Bruce yelled: "God is Good."  French responded "all the time."

Wednesday 5 February 2014

Checking in on Bruce and Rose

We finally got up to see Bruce and Rose Fish again.  French and I hadn't seen them in months.  We drove up to their place, and knocked on the door; no one answered.  We looked in and couldn't see anyone.  The trucks were both in the driveway, so they had to be around somewhere.  French said that he knew where they were.

Out back of their place was a well worn path through the snow.  We followed it.  I caught on to where we were going: the dump.

It was a solid hike up and down little rocky hills. Eventually, I could see the tress opening up just ahead.  I caught a whiff of smoke blowing from that direction.  The path ended up behind the dump.  There was Bruce Fish pulling a big chunk of wood out of a huge heap.  He was tossing suitable pieces onto a sleigh.  He looked up from his work and yelled: "Lend a lad a hand eh boys." We all grabbed a big plank and heaved it out.  Bruce Fish was pleased: "Well done lads, that'll keep the ol'home fires burning."

Rose was over by the dump shed (French called it his office. He'd tacked up a big tin office sign over the door). She was huddled by the fire, flipping through a big leather Study Bible, and brewing tea.  Rose smiled and said: "Ah you all found our little refuge."

We drank some Earl Grey tea as Rose read us the entire Book of James.  When she was done Bruce Fish jumped up and said: "Enough fun! Time to haul back the fire wood."