Friday, May 8, 2015

A Letter to the Class of 2019

Dear Class of 2019,

The day was overcast, and we'd had rain the night before.
Four years from now, when you take my class, you might forget that I accompanied you on your Geocaching Adventure at Gooseberry Falls in the spring of 2015, so I thought I'd write you a letter about my memories of the day. If this blog still exists when you're seniors, perhaps we can re-read it together then.

Today was a lot of fun, and I want to thank Mr Diener for inviting me to come along. 

I drove up to Gooseberry Falls State Park on my own, so when you all got off the buses, I have to admit I was shocked at how tall you all are. I thought 8th graders would be shorter. Of course, I'm pretty short, so almost anyone seems tall to me. Four years from now, you'll be even taller--I only hope I won't be shorter then than I am now.

Mr Lockhart standing guard at a dangerous spot.
As soon as Mr Diener, Mr Lockhart, and Ms Powell got you sorted into groups and outfitted with the famous (and apparently ancient) 8th grade clipboards, GPS units (borrowed, I believe, from several State Parks), and extra batteries, you and your parent-chaperones scattered all over the park to begin a kind of scavenger hunt. My understanding is that you had to visit the spots in the park indicated by coordinates in the GPS units, find the caches hidden (by Mr Diener and Mr Lockhart) at each location, and answer multi-disciplinary questions. 
Yet another shot of the Falls.
My task was to roam throughout the park and pretend to be able to offer assistance or extra batteries as needed. Along the way, I took many photos...Of course, I started with the famous Falls. Although my iPhone doesn't take great distance-shots, I gave it a try. 

Occasionally, above the roar of the Falls, I could hear your voices in the distance...But I have to admit, I was a bit more focused on trying to find interesting plant-life.

Who can you see through the trees?
There weren't many wildflowers to photograph, but I saw a few buds here and there. 
Canada Mayflower, I think.
One clump of Marsh Marigolds was blooming, but I couldn't get close enough for a photo. 

Whenever I caught sight of a group of you, I tried to snap a photo. Mr Diener warned me you'd be moving fast. Every now and then, a couple of you would stop and let me get a shot.
They seemed to be having fun.

I thought that I would see all the caches on my wanderings, but I only encountered one. Either I didn't hit the right spots, or most were well-hidden. 

One of the caches.
Apparently, one group found a cache from last year's trip--it had been sitting there, hidden in the park, for a whole year. I'll let Mr Diener and Mr Lockhart explain that...
Witches' Butter: are those bugs there on the left? I want
those to be some kind of weird insect.

Since there weren't any wildflowers to photograph, I turned my attention to fungi and lichen; I found a nice little bit of Witches' Butter. I come across this fungus fairly frequently. 

Whenever I'm at Gooseberry, I always think of lichen, because down by the lakeshore, there are some beautiful patches of bright orange and yellow lichens...

On my way there, I caught sight of another group of students. (I think they were taking a short-cut through the woods.) 
Mr Short-cut.

The old CCC Pumphouse is covered in lichen.
For some reason, these patches of lichen on the old stonework above remind me of paintings by MondrianClose to the shoreline, there's also a line of short stone pillars, connected by big chains, and the stones are covered with lichen.
I always like to visit this spot.

Down by the lake, some of us ate lunch in the picnic shelter. Ms Powell was there with a boy who wasn't feeling well. We had a fire in the fireplace, and Ms Powell lamented our lack of marshmallows. I thought about a patch of fungus I had seen earlier, and how it looked a bit like molten marshmallow. I wasn't sure if it would taste good roasted, so I didn't mention it. 
I think this looks a bit like roasted marshmallow, dripping down the side of a tree.
A group of you joined us in the shelter and your conversation, which proceeded at a very rapid pace, and which jumped--with no apparent reason--from topic to topic, was quite amusing. 

One young lady thought that clementines are suspicious and unnatural food items because their skins are so strangely loose; a moment later, she was discoursing on the pleasures of foods that consist mainly of "salt and crunch." Then, she was talking about the time some relative (was it her grandmother?) had made her drink a stick of melted butter when she was sick. (Wait, did Clementine-Girl tell that story, or was it someone else? I can't remember.) 
If they're carrying clipboards, then they're with us.
Then a boy walked in and declared his shoes and socks were wet because he walked through a large puddle. He proceeded to take them off and set them to dry before the fire. At some point, another boy explained that if you sprinkle Borax on a fire, the flames turn green (this, I believe, is true). We wanted to test it out, but we didn't have any Borax on hand. 

Sock-Boy talked rapidly about a number of subjects while walking bare-footed on the cold stone floor of the shelter, leaving wet foot-prints behind him. At one point, he twirled his still-wet socks through the air, treating us to a less-than-pleasant-smelling breeze, about which we all complained; then, he slapped them fiercely against the stone walls to force more moisture out of them.

At one point, a well-spoken young man asked me how many times I had come on this trip, and I confessed that this was my first such adventure. (I marvelled at his courage. Most students under the age of about 16 are afraid to address me because I'm so scary.) 
Another group--note the GPS unit and the clipboard.
Not long after this, Mr Diener started collecting all the clipboards and GPS units. One student asked Mr Diener if he would be "tabulating the results" tonight. I was impressed by this young man's use of such a wonderful verb. I now think of him as "Mr Vocabulary."
Mr Vocabulary on the move.
Before we left, Mr Diener showed me the wildflower card from the Park's own cache that one of the groups had found. This year, the theme for the State Park Geocaching program is "Call of the Wildflowers." It features the Blue Butterwort, a carnivorous flower that catches insects with its sticky leaves. I hope to see this flower someday. 
The collectible card from the Park cache.
Mr Diener

I enjoyed the day a great deal, and I'm glad I got to spend some time with you. I look forward to meeting you again (and putting your real names to your faces) when you're older (and even taller). Good luck with the start of your high-school career next year. 


Dr Nygaard


  1. Brilliant! Thanks for sharing. I can't wait for the find out who is who!

  2. This is my first Marshall class! I am ever so happy and a touch jealous that you got to join them on their trip. Thank you for writing about the day.

    1. Glad you liked the account. (Sorry you weren't able to go.)

  3. I didn't have this class for 5th grade French, but I look forward to meeting some of them in French 2 in the fall!

    1. I'll have to pop in next year & see if I (still) recognize any of them.

  4. Great post Susan! Glad you got to join us :-) Beautiful pictures.

    1. I meant to mention in the post how funny it was that every time Mr Diener needed to make an announcement, he let you do it, perhaps because, with your height & "gym teacher" voice, everybody could hear you! I also thought it was very generous of you to offer your extra pair of socks to Sock-Boy!