A little substitute teaching morphed into a one-time, one-year offer to teach in my old school district, Van Buren County Community School District, where I've been teaching in the little town of Douds until the end of the year when my position will be filled by a permanent teacher, one of several who are in the building completing their student teacher training. How do I feel about going back to full-time teaching after retiring for ten years? My answer is the same as it always has been: I'm always happy and excited on the first day of school, and I'm always happy and excited on the last day of school.
My camping experience last year consisted of a weekend at the local county park four miles from our house. I've immersed myself completely in teaching, not trying to live two lifestyles at once, knowing that my commitment of one teaching year will end and then I can get back to a more relaxed, outdoor life. This situation is easy to accept because I am teaching a wonderful 4th Grade class this year--exceptionally kind, polite, and curious students. It's a wonderful encore for my teaching career.
Not all has been teaching, though. About eighteen months ago, my wife and I bought thirty-five rural acres in Van Buren County, around forty miles from our home, mostly wooded acreage that we've developed with some gravel, electricity and water, and a sewage storage tank for our trailer. We were considering how to add a small cabin to the land when we decided to do something we swore we'd never do--buy an "apartment on wheels." Yes, we bought a twenty-five foot Dutchment travel trailer that we had towed to the land and which now completes our small, self-contained space out in the country. On reflection, what I had always said about larger RVs is that I'd never tow one; I never said that I'd never own one. For a reasonable price we now have a small living space on our land that just happens to have wheels.
Owning this land is fulfilling a lifelong desire for my wife, and I've enjoyed sharing the experience with her. So far we've only had a chance to spend one night this last fall in our new camper on our land, but setting up the land and the camping area has been a real learning experience for us. We've fixed fences, cleared brush, mowed grass, and generally opened up a private camping space for ourselves. The land has some beautiful features, but mostly the appeal is the privacy, the chance to truly be out and about without rubbing elbows with many strangers, their animals, and their chugging generators, unrequested playlists of music, and the social issues they're working out with friends and family. This doesn't mean we don't like to socialize; it just means that it's nice to have the option of solitude.
We are looking forward to when school is out and we can turn our lifestyle more toward camping on our land. We want to try a "one-eighty" and live on the land Monday through Friday and then come back to our house on the weekends to shop, do laundry, and see the grandkids. Since we have Starlink, we will be able to set up a strong internet system on the land so that Sandy can work there with her consulting business. It will provide us with a good experience of living on the land and just having some private time for ourselves, and it's six months away.
|December 19 photo of the river from the bridge by a fellow teacher
For long-term camping plans for the next season, we have hopes to travel to Michigan and/or Washington state this upcoming year since we have family in both areas. We even are considering on spending a winter in South Carolina sometime, enjoying cold (but not as cold as Iowa) winter walks on the beaches.
For now, though, I am focusing on doing the best job I can teaching my wonderful students. At halfway through the school year, I have a good sense of the routine, the technology, and the curriculum. First years always have their challenges of so many new specifics, but my 35+ years of teaching experience provide a stabilizing influence on the day-to-day requirements. I love the people I work with--over a dozen people are former colleagues or students. Yes, many of the school's teachers and paraprofessionals are my former students!
I look forward to continuing my Green Goddess Glamping blog as time allows. Don't be surprised, though, if the posts are infrequent until the end of the school year. I'm still here, and look forward to the new year with all its variety of experiences. Happy New Year!