Thursday, November 17, 2005

Cranberry blog

In the deep woods at the back of the campus is a hidden wild cranberry bog that almost no one knows about. This year it is more flooded that ever in my memory. I was there yesterday with Greg and Bailey. It took a while, but we found a place where we could wade into the freezing water and gather some berries. It was not that we wanted berries to eat -- although we did eat a few, squinching up out noses at the bitterness. No, it was simply because we knew the berries were there and the day was warm enough to tempt us to take off our shoes. Would I have waded into the bog without Bailey and Greg? I doubt it. Would they have found the bog without me? Un-uh. We are good for each other.

The real question is: What does wading into a cold cranberry bog have to do with higher education? After all, my two students will be getting academic credit for our semester together. It's true they've done a heap of reading, and more writing than I had any right to expect. But there's another kind of education too, that comes through the soles of one's feet, through the eyes, ears, taste, touch and smell. The squish of berries between the toes. The slant of mid-November light through sulking pines. Berry-pocked clouds reflected in black water. It's a kind of education that doesn't stop with graduation and has nothing to do with credits and GPAs and diplomas. There is no distinction between students and teacher in our peripatetic trio.