After a slow first five months, I'm back to blogging in earnest. In the forthcoming few months I plan to keep on tracking the blooming of wildflowers, the activities of bugs and reptiles and any other critters I'm quick enough or lucky enough to photograph, and to comment on ecological relationships. Since there is an increasing sense of ecological crisis among many people and more vigorous denial of such on the part of others, I will inevitably comment on the social and political dimensions of survival as I see them.
I am still an adjunct instructor in the English Department at Feather River College, but time permitting, I am available for hire as a nature guide in the region in and around Plumas County. A brochure describing my usual kinds of natural history adventures is in development. Email me c/o email@example.com with your mailing address and a statement of interests, and I'll send you a rough draft.
I have been teaching since 1965 and have recently joined the English Department as an Associate Faculty member at Feather River College. Recently taught Nature Literature in America and am currently teaching Interpersonal Communication and Basic Reading and Writing.
I've been spending a lot of my winter break trying to get my work spaces better organized. That's how I'm spending a lot of time while waiting for the weather to do something normal - or what used to be called normal - so I can get fired up about photography again. Meanwhile, I got inspired by a short essay on Austin Kleon's blog titled "The importance of revisiting notebooks." For some reason that jogged a memory of a journal that's a year or two old in which I had drawn a box of crayons. More about that later. For now, let me just say I couldn't find said journal, but I did come across the one containing the two drawings shown here. In order to preserve the memory of the story I'm about to relate, these two drawings will substitute for boxes of crayons. The one above is a series of bottles (I collect bottles of no value until they accumulate to the point that bothers my wife; then I toss them and start over) and the one below is a collection of insects I'd seen over a period of several days.
So, here's the story of the crayons. This has stayed in my mind throughout my teaching career, and it happened in first grade. It's sample of my first-grade experience upon which I will elaborate in my educator's memoir. After some introductory lessons about colors (which I already knew) and about the protocol for asking or answering questions (Always raise your hand!!!), the teacher asked me, "Mr. Willis, what comes after yellow?" Although I didn't say so, I am sure it was the stupidest question I'd ever heard? It turns out the "correct" answer was green. The teacher had issued each of us a brand new box of crayons and told us not to open them. We discussed which colors were in the box, heard how the first six were in rainbow order, were told other crayon and color trivia, all while seriously chomping at the bit, eager to open our boxes and actually start coloring something - anything! So, to the teacher, having started us along the path of memorizing red-orange-yellow-green-blue-violet, the question "what comes after yellow?" made perfect sense. I didn't know, so she asked they class. They were all really smart. They shouted out in unison, "GREEN," which made her very happy. Things got worse when we actually started coloring. I discovered that I didn't know how to follow directions. More on that later.