Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The latest schtick

Spring break is here in the heartland. Of course, it's only spring in the sense that there is more daylight than darkness. The weather is still cold, gray and nasty. Especially yesterday when I got caught in a killer storm walking back to Esther's place from the library.

I've been spending the week in Sycamore with Esther and Jonny. When they got home from daycare yesterday I swooped my son up in my arms and said, "It is so good to see you on a Tuesday!" I hadn't realized until moments before how rare that is. I think Esther's enjoying the adult company. Or at least the home cooked meals.

I'm using two hours of library Internet time a day to apply for teaching jobs. I also plan to put a curriculum vitae together and try to get a job teaching at a community college. Although the pay is not as good, the thought of not having to deal with parents, out of touch administrators, discipline problems with students, and endless bureaucracy is very appealing. Plus, the subject matter would be a little more challenging. I've realized in the last 8 or 9 months that I miss research and writing. Maybe because I'm better at it.

Ten years ago I imagined the perfect life for myself would be to write 3-4 hours a day, read and do research until evening, cook a good meal for my family and spend time socializing until bedtime. I'd like to work towards that end. How to do it. Re-focus on the writing life. This is nearly impossible now with the demands of teaching.

In other news, 2009 is an odd year because there are no big travel plans in the works. In the spirit of downsizing and communitarian spirit, I am going to explore my backyard as much as possible. I've got all the maps of forest preserves in Kane and Cook Counties and am already systematically visiting them when I have the chance.

Here's a link to some pictures I've taken on recent forays:
The places featured in this album include:

Helms Woods (Kane County)
Crabtree Nature Center (Cook County)
Arthur L. Janura Forest Preserve (Cook)
Spring Lake Forest Preserve (Cook)
Bluff Springs Fen (Cook)

I don't have any "attack" plan for Kane County. I guess I'll work from township to township. But Cook county divides its forest preserves into nine zones, and I not only plan to hike or bike every trail in every forest preserve, but will try to use public transportation (Metra rail, mostly) to get to them.

Other local plans for the year are to canoe the rest of the Rock River from Prophetstown to the Mississippi River. For those not in the know, from 2005-07, in weekend and day trips, I have canoed every navigable branch of the river from its sources through Horicon Marsh in Wisconsin and on to Prophetstown, IL. But I have to admit, ever since Lake Koshkonong, the trip has been difficult. Power boat traffic makes dangerous wakes and there is a lot of traffic on the river. I think I'll plan the rest of the trip so that I'm on the water in the early morning or early evening hours when the traffic is lighter.

I will also ride the entire Fox River Trail and maybe, time permitting, walk or ride the Grand Illinois Trail . Either that, or a long section of the Ice Age Trail from West Bend to Janesville. Again, for this trip I would only use public transportation (Metra, Amtrak, and Greyhound) and hitchhiking to get to and from the trail.

Planning costs nothing. But the beauty of these ventures is their relative inexpense. I already have the equipment. Transportation costs are minimal. And friends and family can join me for most, if not all of it.

Speaking of money, I better get back to job hunting.

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