big steps

i've been working
in special education for 21 years.
and my retirement is imminent.
special ed attracted me
because the students were different.
my preference has always been working with kids who have
emotional disabilities,
especially older middle and high school kids.
especiallly in alternative educational settings.
give me a wilderness site
or an old farm
or the woods
and i blossom as a teacher.
 the stairways to learning and growing and understanding are often
hidden away,
overgrown or tucked away.
and then sometimes a gift is given
 presented for the one given it
 gifts are like that. often given
not always taken.
this is the way it is.
sometimes i see
a deer, a mink, a turkey, a heron
great blue heron
 out the window at home
giving me the gift of beauty.
i've looked up to see
a kingfisher, a flicker, an eagle
 and at night i hear owls, many frogs, woodcock, and coyote
if i'm lucky.
around here 
this rural, impoverished north country,
there is so much loss
 buildings mark what was once
 what people have left behind.
or not run over on the road. 
this one i helped across the road. i hope
i hope she laid her eggs in the soft shoulder sand.
the other morning there were nine snappers laying eggs
along the roadside in a mile stretch, and then number 10
a bit further on.
 at home i am weaving shifu and here, below, 
is a failed bit of 
needle woven hemp.
 i'm just finding my way back into making
instead of teaching full time.
transitioning away from this path has been a surprise.
there have been two celebrations for me and other retirees.
and sadness as i leave 
some very, very
special people.