My mom is a woman of many skills. She has run a leadership program at Cornell College. She has helped to teach photography workshops. She has raised dogs. And children. She was a wolf pup nanny at the International Wolf Center and followed that up with doing “wolf talks.” She spoke to high school students, community ed groups, and the UMD community about her experience and about wolves in general. So, when my friend and colleague, Tiffany, and I decided to teach Farley Mowat’s Never Cry Wolf this year, she volunteered to come and do a wolf talk to our students. We timed it so that she could come over Thanksgiving.
She arrived on Friday afternoon and we spent the weekend celebrating her presence in the UP. When Nitsa and Klue realized who was with me at the yurt, they lost their minds. Nitsa spent 20 minutes jumping up on her, giving her kisses, and snuggling her, including an extended hug from the futon. It was ridiculous. We skied, visited Copper Harbor, ate delicious things, and Christmas shopped our way around Houghton.
We celebrated the dwindling time before she heads back west to live for good. We giggled and imagined skiing in the evenings together, or having dinners together, or Christmas shopping together. Mostly, I just cannot wait until we can live in the same rregion again.
Anyway, Sunday night brought storms and strong gusts of wind that rushed their way into the baby yurt. It was a cold night in both yurts, and even the poodles didn’t keep my mom quite warm enough. Nonetheless, we got up and got ready for her big day at Houghton Middle School. When I went to leave for school,, I found Bryan at the bottom of the driveway. The plow lift switch had broken, leaving the truck unusable. In the snowy, windy morning, we tried to fix it, freezing our fingers in the process. After a bit of trying, he drove me to school. Looks like we’d be sharing a car today.
My mom did her wolf talks. The kids were very polite and asked good questions. They got to pass around an actual wolf pelt, moose jaws, coyote skulls, and wolf paw imprints. When she got to a slide with me on it (playing with the wolf pups, circa 2006), she had to hint to them that perhaps the woman in the photo looked familiar. They didn’t say much, but when she did the talks with the other 8th graders, they were totally shocked. I guess they forgot that teachers have mothers. Or maybe it’s that we don’t look alike. Anyway, several kids came up to me later and said the wolf talk was, “Really cool,” and that my mom was “Really nice.” They really liked when she howled,and damn, does it sound real! Tammy even said she got goosebumps it sounded so real! I had told her that the howling might not go over well with 8th graders, so she just howled for them in my class. In one of Tiffany’s classes, kids joined in! Despite mostly being too cool to admit anything is interesting, at least some of the kids thought it was great and were willing to admit it! That’s impressive for that age. Anyway, it was a great day and it was fun to get to have my mom in the building. She even got to experience the very raucous (read: hilarious) lunch crew I’m seriously blessed to share lunch with each day.
The next day I took the day off to soak up my last bits of haven my mom here. We got some more Christmas shopping done, got some pasties for John, and off she went to the airports. Now I just have to wait until December 26th when we head to Puerto Rico together, so it wasn’t as sad as it usually is when she leaves. After that, just a bit more time before RETIREMENT!