Embolden Your Inner Writer

A small group of educators gather every Wednesday morning to improve, perfect, inspire, and even begin their journey in writing. These 5 brave women have been vulnerable, afraid, and in some cases stuck in their writing. Embolden Your Inner Writer, is a 14 week course developed by Jill Gough and myself to bring teachers together to learn more about writing. Just like we ask our students to write on-demand, we need to experience that as well.

Inspired by Lucy Calkin’s Writer’s Workshop, Ted Talks, and mentoring from favorite authors, we write. We learn more about ourselves, each other, and our students. Putting pen to paper, sharing out, and working to improve.

This is what I’ve confirmed…writing is hard. It requires time and the ability to dig deep to put yourself in a setting for the first time, or once again. A few years ago, I sat down and played around with a piece of writing software and popped out a little poem. I actually love it.  Since then, I’ve decided to use my time and work on my little poem. Using some strategies like mapping my location, adding actions, emotions, and senses have made it more vivid and clear. I continue to “embolden” MY inner writer!

The Old Apple Tree (Revised Version)
I sit on the edge of the wall, feet dangling, swinging. Moving my toes in the soft, hot sand. Making that figure eight below the warm top layer until its wet and cool on my toes.
Listening to the gentle push of water as it rolls over the stones at the shore. Moving them back and forth. Pebbles rolling and crashing together as though they’re a living, breathing being.
The hungry squawk of a gull cries from above, drops down to skim the surface like an arrow hitting its target. It rises successfully.
The radio sits in the screened wooden window. I hear songs from the past, local news, sailing and agriculture updates. All of this keeps us connected while we enjoy the solitude.
The cottage smells of the past. My Papa’s old cigarettes, cast iron cooking, cooling ashes from the stone fireplace and musty furniture that’s been locked up all winter. 57 years of working to open and close. Summer and winter, summer and winter. 
The sand sticks to everything. Walking barefoot over the linoleum floor, at the bottom of the bed, and in my ponytail.
I look out to where the old apple tree once was. It stood there, for no reason at all. Such an odd place for an apple tree. It was our shade, our play, our flag. Baseball, sandcastles, bonfires, long walks. My tree saw it all. It weathered many storms. It survived icy winters. It stood strong while some things crumbled around us. 
Daily adventures with buckets in hand, we make our way to the creek. Tucked back in the woods, it runs off into the lake, carving its own path as the murky brown water mixes with the crystal blue water.
We return. Our buckets filled with sparkling treasures. Minnows, shells, stones, smooth glass, and tadpoles. We unwillingly return them back to their place at dusk to begin again the next day.
The giant orange sun sits on the horizon. It casts pinks, purples and reds across the endless water. We sit quietly on the cool beach and watch it plunge into the lake as it settles itself to sleep.
The stars. The stars and the infinite sky, lit up by the universe in all of it’s magic. Blazing colors, twinkling and dancing before our eyes. We gather to watch the night sky. Looking up and out across the beautiful, endless water. 
Washed up tree trunks act as our theatre. The charred logs from the night before are reignited again. It’s mesmerizing. Listen. The slow roll of the water, the crackling of the dried out driftwood, the hum of the insects preparing for darkness.
All of this is now gone. We have all moved on. We have all changed. My home, my childhood. Something that I could hold on to and remember.
I miss that old apple tree. 

The Old Apple Tree (Original Version)
I sit on the edge, moving my toes in the sand.
Making that figure eight below the hot layer until it’s cool.
Listening to the ripples of water as they drift upon the shore.
The squawk of a gull, dropping down from above to skim the surface.
The radio sits in the screened window, I hear songs from the past, local news and sailing updates.
The cottage smells of the past too. Sandy feet, hair in a ponytail, reading a good book.
I look out to where the apple tree once was, where I’d collect shells, build castles, play catch.
Long walks, adventures in the creek, catching minnows in buckets.
The bonfire from the night before awaits nightfall once again.
The fallen tree, washed up trunk acts as our stadium for another night of watching,
in silence, the crackling and popping of the fire.
It’s mesmerizing.
My childhood, my family, my constant.
The cottage was a place where I could call home.
It holds all of my memories.
I miss that old apple tree.

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