Hat-tip Monday: Week #1

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About 10 years ago, I read about a young man who wrote and sent a thank-you note every day for a year. He started because he lost his job, felt depressed, and wanted to remind himself that he had a lot to be thankful for. He soon learned that he more out of saying thank you than simply counting his blessings.

In 2023, I’m taking a slightly different approach. I’m planning to publicly thank people who have had a positive impact on my life in ways they probably didn’t plan, and most likely did so without even realizing it.

A hat-tip to a teacher

In 7th grade, Mrs. B insisted we learn a poem every week. I was more interested in Arthur, who sat in front of me. And, I dreaded getting up in front of the class to read, never mind the agony of reciting by memory a poem with little meaning to me. Still, the dread of failure far outweighed fear and infatuation.

Mom listened and followed along, correcting me as I learned. First, a simple poem:

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree...

...Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

I often think of Mrs. B as Kilmer’s words pop into my head. It happens more times than I can say. Usually, while admiring the sun-dapple shadows through the tree leaves.

Next it was “The Village Blacksmith” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

UNDER a spreading chestnut tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

Don’t these words paint a beautiful portrait?

“The Chambered Nautilus,” “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,” “About Ben Adhem,” and more.

Back in 7th grade, I memorized away because it was an assignment.

What a gift Mrs. B gave me.

I don’t remember discussing the poems or the poet. I remember the beautiful words. I love poetry now. Poetry inspires me. Poetry is like a painting. We can see different aspects of the artist’s work depending on the angle of our view and the attitude we bring to it.

Memorizing also exercised my brain to remember things. I truly believe that all that memorizing many facts that I came to understand and appreciate long after the fact.

While Mrs. B is probably gone, my appreciation remains.

Thank you Mrs. B for poetry seeds in my adolescent brain. The seeds took root; you have served me well.

Please feel free to join me in my “Hat-tipping” journey. Who do you wish to thank this week?