Sunday, January 13, 2008

No crystal stair

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps.
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

--Langston Hughes, (1902-1967) "Mother to Son"

Photo: Trail to Cascade Falls.

It's funny what comes to mind when I'm trying to figure out which quote to put with a photo. For this one, Carol Hughes came to mind. I had the privilege of having Mrs. Hughes for three years of high school English at Morris High School in Morris, Illinois. Outside of class, we secretly (and affectionately) referred to her as Crazy Carol, but it wasn't meant as an insult -- we all loved her zaniness and zeal. She had very high expectations for us, but she never forgot to make class fun. I can still hear her voice as she read the above poem sounding like an elderly, black woman -- whose life had been no crystal stair. Now that I'm teaching, I try to follow Mrs. Hughes' example of caring and craziness and remember that my lessons won't make an impact unless I capture their imaginations and their hearts.

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