I shall henceforth be known as the “mean Ranger” who makes little kids lug gallons of water in midday heat to reenact the historic experience of first settlers and first peoples of the canyon—actually, I’m sure the first peoples had the sense to go for water in the cool of early morning and evening—only white folk run around in the heat of the day attempting to accomplish things. When is the siesta movement going to change labor practices in this country? Siestas would do wonderful things for public education. It would do wonderful things for the economy, get people’s priorities straightened out. PPS is currently debating what subjects and services to take away from students. Cutting the usual things that do not just enrich but are essential to a young person’s educational development. I detest the terms “special,” “enrich,” and “supplemental.” We need a social revolution people, complaining to the TV isn’t going to do anything, get up and take to the street. Exercise your right as a US citizen—protest.
Back to storytime—being in the flat hat certainly garners you looks from the tourists, mostly curiosity, jealousy, respect, and signpost to flag down for extraction of the secret knowledge about where restrooms are located. There was some lovely elk scat and a perfect print in the mud near the tree where we spread out. Teachable moment. The first folks I talked to were from none other than Portland, OR. Adorable respectful bunch, with the inquisitive 3 year old who piped up periodically why I was reading to ask important questions. We read Snail Girl Brings Water: A Navajo Story, retold by Geri Keams. I passed around laminated prints of all featured characters (otter, beaver, canyon treefrog, desert tortoise, snail), and a wooden frog that supposedly makes the sound of a frog croaking when you stroke its ridged back with a wooden stick. My lesson plans are posted here under “Environmental Education Resources.” The gallon jugs of water were a hit, only four out of about 14 kids were up for my little relay, but considering most of them were probably worn out from sightseeing it went well. As I was walking through the El Tovar parking lot, one tourist said to me, “You’re living the life aren’t you?” I replied something like, “Well, I am carrying 32 pounds of water right now, but besides that…”
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Jenny Gapp, has eighteen years experience as a teacher librarian, four seasons as a seasonal state park ranger assistant, and two summers adventuring with National Parks in an official capacity.