Last week of the sinking sun.
The Earth hurtles closer to the sun, but my little piece of paradise edges more and more oblique to the sun, our source of light, of life. We're in the dark season.
The bell still rings at 7:45 in the morning. It's not a bell anymore, but we still call it that. I blew a conch shell as the bell sounded, an old shell that has been around the science wing for years. My students were as amazed by the loud bellowing of the conch shell as I am by their iPhones.
The conch was once alive. It no longer is. Neither is obvious to most of us scurrying under the fluorescent hum of December lights.
We're studying photosynthesis now, my absolute favorite subject in biology, except maybe quahogs, which aren't part of the curriculum.
Things are not connecting as well as I'd like, but they rarely do in mid-December. The trees are bare at the moment. We could take a lesson from them--not much happening under the sky when the sun fades away.
ATP synthase. Chemiosmosis. Electron transport chain. I mention the words, knowing that they will roll off my students cerebra as water rolls off a leaf. And that's fine with me.
Everything that burns easily in my classroom does so because of the grace of plants, capturing the energy sent forth by our sun. The plants in the back of the room continue to grow under our fluorescent lamps, trapping any carbon dioxide that wander too close to their chloroplasts, carbon dioxide that arose from the deepest cells of the few animals in the classroom.
Most of the mammals in the area are biding their time, waiting for the sun to hold still in the sky, waiting for it to turn back northward again.
The plants remind me that our breath is real, that what was once part of me is now part of another living being, communion in the classroom.
The sun hardly gets the attention it once did. Not one child in my classroom is the child of a farmer. Not one child in my classroom depends on any harvest within a hundred miles of home.
Every child, though, plants a seed. Every child is reminded what their ancestors knew. A few of them realize what has been lost. Not many, but enough.
It's the enough that carries me through the winter solstice.
Photos by us.