Monday, April 08, 2019

Mary Oliver and My 6th Grade Teacher

I've been participating in a challenge this month to walk one extra mile a day. I realize that isn't much of a challenge for many people, but it has been a test of time and commitment for me. I'm pleased to say that I've walked that mile 8 days out of 8 so far, we'll see how the rest of April goes.

Even a nice, gentle walk (or any activity) can feel torturous if I'm watching some kind of clock or distance count down. In order to peacefully walk on my treadmill, which is where most of my extra miles have taken place, I set the time/distance/speed and then promptly cover the digital display with my Kindle and read as I walk.

The last couple of days I have been reading Mary Oliver's Upstream. In one of the early essays in the book, Oliver was describing various birds and mentioned loons. Just reading the word, "loon," nearly took my breath away as I was instantly flooded with memories of a favorite teacher. Mrs. Freiburger was my 6th grade teacher and my 7th grade science teacher and she absolutely loved loons.

Aside from the loons, here is what I remember about Mrs. Freiburger as a teacher: she read us great books, we did lots of creative writing in her class, her last name was one of our spelling words early in the school year, and she loved science. Twice I got in "trouble" in her class and I still remember her reprimanding me because I cared so much about her opinion and I was upset I had disappointed her. What impresses me most, all these years after middle school? When I think of Mrs. Freiburger I feel happy. The memory of being in her class just makes me smile. Her passion for her job and care for her students still feels like a gift to me 30 years after being in her class.

I have no idea where Mrs. Freiburger is now, but I would drop everything in a heartbeat to have lunch with her. Wherever she is I hope she is enjoying her retirement and has endless opportunities to observe her beloved loons.