The Praying Mantis Hatches
June 5–9, 2021: Amherst, MA USA
Seasonal Memoir #7
Heat. Thunder. Rain. Repeat. It is only early summer, and we haven’t yet reached the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere (June 20), but we’re going through a hot and humid patch, getting our fill of what it must be like in the South. No, thank you! Though I have to admit that there is something quite peaceful when sitting on a porch with the rain pelting down. Everything stops — other sounds, animals moving about, and it seems, time itself. In such a moment, with a good cup of coffee (or something stronger) in hand, I feel I can figure things out, or produce something highly creative.
Watching Kiwi, our long-haired Jack Russell mutt, adjust to New England has been fascinating. Besides collecting dog ticks (dead and alive), he’ll sit on the porch and observe the fauna. I’ve boiled his reactions down to these three categories:
- Chasing animals smaller than him — small birds, chipmunks, mice — presumably to eat
- Barking at animals larger than him — humans, cars — presumably to warn them that he’ll do absolutely nothing if they approach the house other than growl and stare them down
- Stunned silence — wild turkeys — these do the rounds in the neighborhood each morning and evening, and Kiwi looks terrified in sizing up these creatures… ha.
It’s been a particularly hectic week, but it’s good to feel productive, actually. I’m juggling a number of responsibilities from current, near-future, and more distant work assignments, not to mention all the personal responsibilities and projects I’m engaging in. A sample:
- Engaging in a summer “camp” for Global Online Academy for new teachers, learning how to teach an asynchronous course online (I’m teaching Positive Psychology in the fall)
- Transition planning retreats and other tasks (like learning German!) for the International School of Zug & Luzern (I’ll be interim HS Principal for the next school year)
- Transition planning meetings and other tasks for the American School of Bombay (I’m the incoming Head of School for 2022)
- Finishing up appraisals, grading my students, and other odds & ends for the American School of Dubai (the end is nigh)
Clearly, I’m not great at saying ‘no’ or managing workload! All good, however.
I’m writing this piece from a standing desk at Amherst Works, a local version of WeWork. It’s such an interesting concept, and one I’ve wanted to check out for quite some time. The confluence of work, and the fact that our moving shipment has not yet arrived, prompted me to pull the trigger. For $35, I have my own desk, and all the wifi, A/C, power, and tea and coffee I need, and no distractions! There are another ten or so people in here, some using private offices, and others who appear to be long-timers. The environment is a bit sterile, but it has an urban-intellectual feel to it. It works. That being said, the price feels high to me (my son is incredulous that I’d pay for this), but to be fair, my all-time favorite spots are not freebie spaces like coffee shops or libraries, but rather reading rooms, such as the one captioned here (where I wrote my master’s thesis), and alas, those are off-limits due to the pandemic. So Amherst Works it is!