The Bed Boat

Teachers Write: Day 2: Tuesday Quick Write

Directions for today (ok, well yesterday 🙂 ):

Write for two minutes to describe a very specific place.  If you’re just free-writing, it can be a place that you love, or have visited, or a place that frightens you.

Then…When your two minutes are up, stop writing.

Now…if your place is real and you can go there, go there now.  I’ll wait….

If it’s far away, find a picture of it. If it’s not a real place, put yourself there in your mind. Now write for one minute about each of the following:

  • Everything you SEE – Pay attention to big things and tiny things. Search for concrete details.
  • Everything you HEAR – Be specific. Don’t just say “a scraping sound.” Say a “high-pitched, raspity-raspity-screeeeeaking noise.”  You can make up words if you want.If you aren’t in the place, try to find a video. Or guess what you might hear.
  • Everything you SMELL – Especially pay attention to the smells that surprise you. If you’re not in the place, pictures can help you smell. Look carefully…what would that dumpster smell like?
  • Everything you FEEL – Weather, wind, things that land on you or brush against you. Again – pictures help you imagine if you’re not there, and if it’s not a real place, try imagining images and then assigning sensations from a similar place that might be real (desert, tundra, etc.)

Now, go back and rewrite that descriptive paragraph. Include your best tiny, surprising details, and work on senses other than sight. Better?  More vivid?  This is a fun activity to do with kids, too. Have them write about the playground or gym or cafeteria; then go there and hunt for sensory details!

Wow.  If I thought yesterday was hard, then today was worse.  I tried the exercise.  And then I tried it again because the first go-round was so lousy.  I think the problem was that I picked a place that was too big, too broad, so I had a hard time specifically describing those details.  I do have to admit, though, that there was some really important teacher-learning that happened in that first try: I totally get it now how my kids feel when I tell them to share their words with their partner or with the class.  I thought I understood it, but I don’t really think I got it until it happened to me.  Priceless experience really.

So I tried again, and this time tried to focus in on a smaller–and closer–place that was important to me.  It is an actual place, and it is in my house, so that made it easier.  Well a little bit.

So here it is:

We own a boat.  But it’s not made of wood and nails or fiberglass, either.  It’s big, squishy and white–just the perfect combination of soft and strong, and there is always a breeze blowing overhead.  It’s a bed boat, and while it goes nowhere, it takes my family on magical journeys together.

Sometimes I sail there alone,  just me with my thoughts or a good book to keep me company.  Solitude is welcome.  But more often than not, the boat is filled with other passengers on the journey with me: one who is the captain and two who are smaller (and much louder) versions of myself.  As we sail on together, we might share a laugh, a story, a snuggle or even a snack.  We sense the safety of the boat brings; just being on it is enough.

The big, squishy bed-boat is where we begin and end most days, our safe harbor through the storms of life.  Problems are solved, plans are made and great days are joyously relived.  Tears are shed, questions are answered and the sailors are made stronger just by being there.  Together.  Nothing seems too big to tackle.  The bed-boat is safe, it’s strong and it’s special.

What is your favorite place?  Where do you go that’s special to you?  🙂