365 Days of Earrings

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Year of the Insect

Today pairs of 3rd graders shared the insect poems that they had studied and practiced reading aloud yesterday. Once again, the room buzzed with the boistrous excitement created by the images in Paul Fleischman's Joyful Noise. I wore one of my pairs of dragonfly earrings for the occasion.

For me, this has been the year of the dragonfly. Last summer, I researched dragonflies, sketched dragonflies, wrote poems and personal narratives and descriptions about dragonflies. On the first day of school, I asked my students to each choose an animal that they would like to be. "If I could be any animal," I told them, "I would become a dragonfly."

I have always wanted to be able to breathe underwater. When they are young, dragonflies live and breathe under water. I have always wanted to be able to fly and hover at will. When they metamorphose, dragonflies sprout wings and fly. In the summer, when I kayak on the Clarion River, dragonflies and damselflies are my companions.

Anyone who lives in my part of northern Virginia knows that there is a certain irony to celebrating insects this year. The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys), a species native to Asia, has invaded our homes by the thousands. We waste countless hours vacuuming and sweeping and drowning stinkbugs in a vain effort to rid ourselves of this pernicious pest.

Stinkbugs have volunteered for quite a few of my earring photos this year, but I've deleted those pictures.

Tonight, I just set the stage and waited patiently. Sure enough, attracted by light and heat, the stinkbugs plopped onto the page.

Today in class we celebrated grasshoppers, crickets, water striders, damselflies, book lice, and many of their kin. Tonight, I pluck stinkbugs from my chair and drop them into a cup of soapy water. I wonder whether any of my students will choose to write their own poems for two voices about stinkbugs...

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