Welcome to the February edition of Share Four Somethings, hosted by Heather Gerwing. In this monthly series, we discuss things we Loved, Read, Treasured, and something Ahead since our last Four Somethings post.
It is no secret that winter is my fourth favorite season.
Snow and ice impede road running and make trail running more difficult. Sitting on my deck requires bundling up in layer upon layer until it becomes unappealing. It is dark by 6:00 p.m. or earlier. I could go on.
In an attempt at reconciling myself (reluctantly) to the season, I have introduced my two local grandsons to the pleasures of flying down Bomberger’s Hill, the local sledding hot-spot.
It is the perfect sledding hill. Steep, long, but with no stationary objects to avoid, it produces a feeling of exhilaration without significant danger.
Sledding down and then running up the hill also allows me to combine the fun of sledding and the fitness benefits of hill repeats.
Winter activities with my youngest grandson are, alas, purely virtual. He lives 2,000 miles away in a town that receives a lot of snow.
With the help of his father, my son, he has transformed a pile of snow as high as their garage roof into an otter slide-snow fort-tunnel system. Quite the engineering marvel.
It’s almost enough to make my fourth favorite season slightly more enjoyable.
I read two excellent books this month. Both were gifts.
The first book, Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle, was given to me for Christmas by my son and his wife. How well they know me.
Gregory Boyle is a Jesuit priest. He is the founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries, an organization that provides jobs, assistance, and compassion to gang members in Los Angeles.
Father Greg’s book is full of personal stories featuring gang members. Some of them are success stories, some are not. All of them showcase the author’s humor, empathy, generosity, and unconditional love. Boyle, just like Jesus, understands that the way to move people is through stories, parables. These stories help readers relate to young men living a lifestyle probably much different than their own.
I give this book 4.95 stars out of 5. The very slight deductions are for two reasons. Few of the stories featured young women, even though they are also served by Homeboy Industries. Calling gang members “homeboys” smacks of cultural appropriation.
The Incredible Journey of Plants by Stefano Mancuso was given to me for my birthday by a friend. How well she knows me also.
I am a science nerd. Plants, in my opinion, are some of the most fascinating organisms to study. Mancuso is a botanist, but you don’t have to have a science background to appreciate this book.
The author tells the stories of individual plants (The Acacia of Tenere, The Spruce Tree of Campbell Island, and others) to illustrate his points. He describes how plants can send their seeds far and wide, even crossing vast oceans. He explains why it is to some plants’ advantage to produce humongous seeds (think coconuts).
The one aspect of the book I did not appreciate was the illustrations. These beautiful watercolors seem to be placed in the book at random locations, having absolutely no relation to the text. It would have been more meaningful, in my opinion, to show an illustration of the actual plant being described by the author. It’s a minor complaint.
My youngest son is running for political office! He has put his hat in the ring to run for Lancaster County Controller.
So far, it has been an educational and uplifting experience for him. He has secured his party’s endorsement and is in the process of getting petitions signed right now. He has 13 days to get 250 signatures.
The photo shows him on Fasnacht Day (Shrove Tuesday) collecting signatures in front of Lancaster Central Market. His 89-year-old grandmother, a former member of the League of Women Voters, is excited to sign his petition. She has also volunteered to take him around her neighborhood so the neighbors can sign it too.
The campaign is a family affair.
This month I do have an upcoming event to share with you. I am looking forward to this “something” very much.
Twenty-some years ago, I organized the first science fair ever held at our high school. As years passed, our science fair evolved. By the time I retired, between 80 and 100 students participated annually.
Students began researching their projects on the second day of school. We typically worked on science fair once a week (usually on Thursdays) from September through the beginning of March. Most students put their heart and soul into their project, working for hours outside of class on lab work, research, and presentation.
One of the best comments I ever got from a student had to do with her science project. One young woman told me, “Mrs. Hess, I always felt that on every other day, we worked on your stuff, but on Thursdays, we worked on my stuff.” The rest of the class nodded their assent.
In March I am going to participate in the science fair again. This time as a judge. Students will present their projects virtually.
I am looking forward to hearing about new and exciting discoveries. Most of all, I am looking forward to having the opportunity to interact with students once again.
And this time, I have no research papers to grade.
You can find the places I link up here.