These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

the end of something special

yesterday i made my last trip to visit mrs. irizarry's third-graders at the migrant program. i was invited to go so i could listen to them read their career papers. i, of course, obliged.

i arrived shortly before lunch, in time to be with them for the morning recess. i walked in and immediately several of the girls run over and give me hugs. a couple of the boys high five me. and on the way to the playground, rosaisela and denisse had to hold my hands as we walked over.

after playing in the heat fora bit and sitting with them during lunch (which was cool because they shared the hot cheetos with me), we headed back to the classroom where i was given a surprise.

steph told the kids to get in a circle and placed a chair up in front of thekids. that was my chair. i sat in front of them. she said i was their special guest who gave of his time to share with the kids and had impacted their lives.

i was flattered. i think those kids impacted my life. they're so full of life, wanting to learn, giving and loving. it was them who has made a difference in my life. i think they've opened up my heart during a time when it was closing and things bad. it was an unexpected side trip to my summer that has ended up being one of the best parts thus far. it's hard to explain, perhaps i can't, but i'm indebted to some of those kids. their presence helped me out.

the kids presented me with a neatly made packet that said "we love mr. garcia on the cover. inside were thank you letters from the kids, written in their words. tht was followed by a picture frame. inside were pictures from our various trips and the kids' signatures around the cut out pictures. both of these are now in my cubicle at work.

part of my sitting up front, though, was to tell them a story. it appears the kids loved the stories i had told them while on the field trips. steph brought in popsicles while i told the story of how the kids wanted to go see "the simpsons movie." with help from my pal juan, i got through it. i think all of the kids were satisfied.

afterwards, i got to listen to them read their career papers. i was impressed by them. some of the kids have serious goals. i have no doubt some will pursue them and succeed. denisse was the first to read and she was most impressive with her words. she is a good wrier. she wants to be a lawyer. rosalisela and lucero want to be teachers; they will make good ones. andy likes to draw (and does it well), and he wants to design cars.

so i left the school fulfilled and full of hope for their future. i hope to hear from some of them in the future, hope to see them succeed in life. still, after being with them these handful of occasions, though, i'm proud of them already.

Monday, July 30, 2007

up in michigan

friday dawn and i celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. we did nothing that day,e xcept i gave her some flowers. a very pretty bouquet. she loved it.

i told her that saturday night we'd go to boatwerks or something and enjoy a nice dinner, maybe see a movie.

dawn had other plans. she planned something. she told me on the phone while at work to be spontaneous. i said fine. i got home and she told me she'd booked a night at the terrace inn in petoskey. she introduced this by showing me a pamphlet she'd printed out on things hemingway up near petoskey.

i like to be spontaneous. but this caught me by surprise. and my bouquet of flowers paled compared to the trip she'd planned. but i thought it would be a nice getaway.

off we went. the further north we went the taller trees got and the greener the landscape, which was hilly. there were beautiful valleys that lay between the hills, stretching on for miles.

after a futile atempt at finding windemere, the house where he stayed while up in michigan, a house his father bought in 1899, we sped off to petoskey, where we found the inn gorgeous, quaint, yet elegant. apparently hemingway used one of the rooms there as a refuge when he couldn't write and wanted to gathers his thoughts. we didn't stay in the hemingway room. that was occupied. still, we loved the place.

we stopped off at the beach near the inn and saw little traverse bay. it stretched out into the western horizon, where it joined lake michigan. on the opposite side, the green of the land jutted out of the water. it was breath-taking.

we were off to horton bay, where some of hemingway's stories took place and where he cavorted as a teenager. we foun dit. it's a small berg. we found a treasure in the red fox inn, which was a museum that sold hemingway things. it's also a place where hemingway crashed out.

the proprietor was full of hemingway knowledge. turns out his mother's maiden name is fox. he showed us a picture of his mother at age seven while in attedance at hemingway and hadley's wedding in the early 1920s. this older woman, miriam, came in to look around. turns out the proprietor said, "she and sunny (hemingway's sister) were like two peas ina pod." that was cool seeing someone who knew hemingway's sister.

i ended up buying "the nick adams stories," which are the ones he based up in michigan. we also got a this nice sized poster of him with a typewriter, papers and a cat on the desk (i have this same print in a postcard sized frame at the office.).

after a quick visit to the general store, where hemingway also went, we headed to the public access boat launch, no doubt where hemingway traversed up and down lake charlevoix to get back to walloon lake. he visited a lot of friends in horton bay and even had a girlfriend, a native maerican girl. a purported likeness is in a picture at the museum.

we dined at the lovely park city grill, once more where hemingway went to eat. the nearby park is where he watched bare-knuckle fights. the wide downt0wn of petoskey is alive with activity. it's something like two long streets, with smaller side streets full of people, sitting, walking their dogs or popping into places to get ice cream or fudge.

we took a lae night walk, checking out the houses near the inn. they were exquisite,most sitting atop small hills.

the following day, we left and tried to find windemere. no luck. we went arond the northern edge of walloon lake and were deep in the woods, driving througha small road that must be horrible to maintain during the snowy winter months. we were along the right road but we couldn't tell and there certainly was no sign post telling us where the house was. it's privately owned now.

on the way back, we took U.S. 31 toward traverse city. we got to travel along the edge of grand traverse bay. that was awesome, the highway winding around the southern edge of the bay. seeing it from that end, it stretched north until we could see it no more. we could not stop, but perhaps another time we might make it up to traverse city and check it out. it's...yes, beautiful.

it was a quick 24 hour trip but it seemed like we were away for days, filling each with so much activity that we had our fill, instead of only one day.

also, seeing the hemingway haunts was a bonus. i don't know which was more fun, seeing the beauty of the northern michigan landscape or the hemingway locales. perhaps a little of both.

either way it's a treat. i found the landscape entrancing. i wish we could have had more time to take walks through wooded areas -- mapped out of course, or spend more time near the water, getting both sunrise and sunset shots.