Thursday, October 23, 2008

One of my favorite pasttimes has been riding my 4 wheeler, ever since the first day I jumped on it, several years ago. I didn't want one. My husband did. When he bought his, he insisted on getting me one as well, despite my protests. It wasn't long before I was begging to trade in my cheap little 2 wheel drive for a faster, more powerful Bombardier 400 Outlander. It was a match made in heaven. I loved the speed, the freedom, the thrill. Every chance I got to ride, I did. Until 2 weeks ago.

My husband and I were up at our cabin, working all day burning the pile of leftover building materials, cleaning out the pole barn, just enjoying the fall day and being outside together. We had gotten both ATV's out of the pole barn to be able to get to other stuff, but were not planning on riding. He promised we would go for a long ride the next day and we had our trip all planned. One last ride before snow fall.

When time came to put the machines away, as usually happened, when I jumped on mine, it just didn't want to go inside, so I let it lead the way down the winding forest road our cabin sits on, no helmet, just enjoying the wind in my hair, taking in the golden leaves slowly floating down, the smell of autumn heavy in the air. I was only going about 20 mph, putting along, enjoying being there, alive, free. Suddenly this HUGE mid puddle appeared. Knowing my machine would spray mud all over me, I jerked the handlebars sharply to miss the puddle. Too late... somehow, as I was sucked into the muck, and came up the opposite side, I hit a small hump of dirt. The sensation of flying through the air will haunt my dreams for a lifetime. The ATV landed upside down with me nearby in the middle of the road.

It could have been worse. Several broken ribs, bruises from the handlebar from my chin across my face to my eye. Bruises and aches all over. But I am alive and thankful.

THe worst part has been being away from school for 2 weeks. I miss the kids. I know they are OK, but I also am egocentric enough to think no one can teach them 7th grade math as well as I can. When I am gone for a day or 2, I can leave busy work, something to occupy them, but no real NEW learning for them.

THis extended absence has made me have to turn over the teaching to the substitutes. As I sit here this morning grading papers, I am in tears at the low scores, the lack of understanding, the obvious misunderstandings being developed.

It is not the sub's fault. She is wonderful. She taught elementary school for years and is just terrific, but when is the last time she balanced an algebraic equation or thought about irrational numbers?

I can't wait until Monday when I can go back to school. I miss the kids, I miss teaching. I know I will still be in pain. I can't bend over, or sit in one position for long, or even breathe deeply, but I have to be there. I have to be with my kids!

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