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Week 15: October 12, 2001

Continued from previous page.

From the first moment I stooped down to enter through the low-cut doors and nearly knocked my prim, special first-day hat off, I knew it was perfect. Then came the best part of all. As I sat on my bench, looking out the window towards the creek, I saw the children arrive, along with one horse, one cow, and several dogs. Some splashed through the creek, others crossed on a plank set a bit upstream; but they were all beautiful, scrubbed and clean. Quickly I wrote their first names on the small slates, setting two on each table, as they came through the doors. Then I stepped out, hitting my head on the low door, and began to ring my brass school bell. They all came in, including several dogs, and we began our adventure. It didn't feel at all strange.

There were afternoons in that sheep shed that were so hot we would nearly drain the entire crock of drinking water, and we would retreat to a shady grove to continue our studies. There were days so cold and wet that we hardly left the tin square around the wood stove. One day it was too dark to read, so we had to work on everything orally; slices of raw potatoes browned on top of the stove as we told stories, recited poems, and made up songs.

Every day the sawdust floor burned my eyes, nose, and throat, but that was a small price to pay for the joy of working with those children. It was a magical experience. We all became something different, and some part of that difference will always stay with us, even as we return to the twenty-first century.

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