In March, Waring’s Writing Department announced a weekly community writing project.
Every Monday, the Writing Department shares a new prompt and publishes some of the previous week’s best responses.
Last week the prompt was: “Over the past few weeks, we’ve all become hyperaware of the barrier between inside and outside. It has always been there, but now it has become more impermeable, has taken on extra significance. If you feel safer inside, describe the view from your window. What do you see? What do you dream about while you gaze through the glass? If you need to be outside, tell us about a special encounter you’ve had with nature. Why and how does the natural world feel important to you now?”
At the bottom of this blogpost, you will find this week’s new prompt. Everyone is encouraged to participate alongside our students. Please submit your responses to Jill Sullivan (no more than 250 words) by Friday.
Ray Coutu (Current Parent)
"The Squirrel Circus"
After accepting the fact that my husband, our two teenagers, our dog, and I would be living under one roof 24/7, I panicked… and then I divided the house into thirds: The kids got the top floor for school, my husband got the main floor for work, and I got the finished basement. The dog got the whole house.
The basement gets a surprising amount of natural light. And I get a full view from the window above my computer monitor by simply glancing up. What do I see? Nothing much—the window well’s stone edge, a fence, and a row of ornamental pear trees. Nothing much, until the “squirrel circus” begins!
For whatever reason—I suspect it has something to do with eating and mating—the squirrels are out of control, leaping from tree to tree, skyrocketing from earth to impossibly high branches, racing along the fence’s impossibly thin edge. My husband calls them rodents. I call them acrobats. Fearless and fun-loving. Their act is mesmerizing.
The squirrels don’t know I’m watching, so they perform like no one’s watching—completely undistracted and unhinged. They eat corn on the cob like we do, holding the ends and rotating the ear. They can defy gravity by clinging to a vertical surface, like Spider-Man. Their tails curl when sitting up, and straighten when assuming a running position.
This is an unexpected “science lesson,” thanks to the pandemic. But really, thanks to slowing down and watching the beauty that surrounds us daily, if we choose to.
Katharine Judy ’22
Today is the epitome of an April day: windy, raining, and quiet. I write this from my twin bed, staring at both my screen and a window ahead that leads to the marsh. I can see the raindrops falling in the distance of the swamp-thing I call my backyard. It’s quite beautiful if I have to be honest. I’ve always loved the rain. It made me feel cozy at home, and filled me with an overwhelming urge to watch or read Harry Potter (Prisoner of Azkaban of course!). These days I still get that feeling but almost less so, because there has been so much of it lately. The rain has drenched little Ipswich, and I’ve found myself reaching for my mother's raincoat more often as I take my dog out for yet another walk. It’s okay though, I woke up this morning from a good night’s rest and a bizarre dream so I’m hopeful that today will be productive:)
Ethan Trowbridge ’22
The windows in my bedroom are half covered by curtains made of pillowcases that block my view of everything but the tops of the trees and the sky. I honestly don’t spend too much time looking out the window when I’m in my room. Instead, I’m looking through the glass of my computer screen, which is my only connection to what’s happening in the world around me. Through it I have talked to my friend Lev who lives in Sochi, Russia, and to Callum who is in Australia and Dave from England. Through my screen I have learned about molecular geometry in chemistry, mourned Paul’s death in All Quiet on the Western Front in humanities, and checked in on my classmates as they look back at me through their own screens. I have watched so long I’ve gotten to the actual end of lacrosse videos on YouTube, and from online tutorials have taught myself how to string a lacrosse head three different ways. But sometimes all I see is my own reflection in the screen, my hair slowly growing out, and I look away, out my window towards the trees that are gradually turning green and I hope for a time that there won’t be a screen in front of me.
Victoria Rolf (Current Parent)
My daughter and I volunteer with a local nonprofit educating the public about nature and conserving vernal pools. As I learn more about habitat destruction and climate change, I am increasingly concerned about our future. I want there to be a world left when she gets to my age. For her kids too.
On a rainy night last week I went out to a vernal pool. Why a dark wet night you ask? Well, some of the endemic vernal pool creatures are nocturnal. They like to migrate when the temperature gets above 45 degrees and the ground is wet. Some amphibians travel over a mile to return to their pool each spring. It’s mating season and they have to get to these special ponds or they will cease to exist.
Flashlight in hand, I detect more than a hundred spotted salamanders gracefully moving within the pool. Beautiful bright yellow spots. Each with its own pattern. Delicate dusty bluish-purple skin covers the rest. Another beaming face looks out from the granite crack waiting for just the right conditions to emerge. Vivid white spermatophores are sprinkled everywhere, like bits of cottage cheese curds. Elusive wood frogs give deep throaty croaks. Clusters of swelling egg masses. Leaches. Water striders. A predacious diving beetle. Tiny spring peepers are down in the creek bed, working their way to the pool. So loud. It hurts my ears. Deafening.
My brain turns inside out.
I feel alive.
Community Writing Prompt - Week of April 20, 2020
On Sunday, the New York Times published a list titled, “What Writers Say about Plague Season.” Among the quotes, was this one from Iris Murdoch: “Of course reading and thinking are important, but, my God, food is important too.” The Writing Department agrees with Iris. Please share your quarantine food stories with us. Have you been stress baking? Trying that recipe for cassoulet you’ve always wanted to make? Falling back on Mac ’n Cheese? Bingeing on salt and vinegar potato chips? Tell us a story about what food means to you right now. And, please make us taste it!