Slice of Life: The Edge of Winter


When I taught third grade, Leo Lionni’s classic, Frederick, was one of the first books I read to my students. We admired Frederick’s independence and creative spirit. We relished his stock of words and images. Then we went outside to gather our own colors and words.

Back then, I paired this book with Mary O’Neil’s Hailstones and Halibut Bones and the kids wove the images they’d gathered into color poems. Today I would add Joyce Sidman’s Red Sings from Treetops. Sidman’s luscious poetry never fails to get a reader and writer’s creative juices flowing.

For the past few weeks, the autumn days have been spectacular in my corner of the world. I’ve been spending as much time as possible outside, collecting images and ideas. This poem grew out of those noticings.

Breathe in the silence
of a barren field
at evening’s edge.

Listen to the sun’s
last rays, seeping
through leafless trees.

Feel the murmur
of starlings as they
dip and dive in crisp air.

Watch the calm shatter
as a flock of geese
announce their approach.

Taste the first hint
of winter, ruffling
the pond’s glassy surface.

© Catherine Flynn, 2016

Go and gather images and colors and words. Give your students, no matter how young or old, time to write their thoughts, their hopes, their dreams. We’ll all be richer for it.

Thank you to StaceyDanaBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, Melanie, and Lisa for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

7 thoughts on “Slice of Life: The Edge of Winter

  1. Simply beautiful! I love the ideas you shared about what you did with your third graders, and what you would also do now. I teach 3rd graders and we’re working really hard to make writing an everyday thing for a number of reasons! Love adding art into it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, I love every bit, but especially that about the starlings, and that “ruffling/the pond’s glassy surface.” I’m catching up while watching this terrible news happening, so appreciate your beautiful words even more. Thank you, Catherine!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Catherine, I am so glad that I popped into your post to read a beautiful poem that let me drift back into the season. I am at a state conference and it is dark and dreary but the rain is proving to be useful to the soil. I take away your line, “ruffling the pond’s glassy surface”, a lovely thought. Will you offer this poem for my Autumnville Gallery?

    Liked by 1 person

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