England, across the Atlantic Sea; and I'm a genius, genius, 'cos I believe in" Poetry Friday). We spent a few days in London and are heading to Lake Coniston today for a week-long family celebration of my mother-in-law's upcoming notable birthday. (Side note: My mother-in-love, previously honored here for her contributions to my poetry bookshelf, is now truly and technically my mother-in-LAW, thanks to that legal wedding certificate. Nice bonus effect!)
Our London experience this time around was deeply colored by Daisy's twin passions: Harry Potter and Shakespeare. We have spent large chunks of our trip visiting Harry Potter book and film locations in Wiltshire and in London, helped by a poorly-written but comprehensive book on the subject acquired in a National Trust bookshop at Lacock Abbey. The two passions came together nicely on the terrace at the Globe Theatre. There, among the many flagstones commemorating the supporters of American Sam Wanamaker's 45-year quest to rebuild the Globe, is one bearing the name of Sam's daughter Zoe, and any diehard Harry Potter fan knows that in the movies Zoe Wanamaker plays Madame Hooch, the flying instructor and Quidditch referee at Hogwarts. I won't go into how many other Harry Potter actors are also noted Shakespeareans.
But I digress (even before approaching my true subject): why can Shakespeare even begin to touch Harry Potter in Daisy's world of what rates? Credit for early initiation goes to Mrs. Kleinman and Mrs. Alexander, the 4th grade teachers who had their classes performing Romeo and Juliet, in which Daisy played the Prince of Verona (and The Pirates of Penzance, a not unrelated British institution, in which Daisy played the modern Major General). But credit for her lasting, maturing passion goes to Michelle Ray, a fellow Montgomery County Public Schools teacher and author of the recently published Falling for Hamlet. My respect for teacher-authors gets a big boost once again.
Passion (or lack thereof) in the classroom is contagious, and this is why teaching is such a powerful and dangerous profession. Ms. Ray, Daisy's 6th grade reading teacher, made Shakespeare current and true and important to Daisy. Here I find that Ms. Ray has also written a few words of wisdom on the topic of gratitude for what is sufficient in life. "Being published has been one of the best things in my life, yet it’s been fraught with emotional challenges....So my mission: focus on the joy."
I for one can always use the reminder that what we have, each of our blessings, our small contributions and celebrations, even each of our little adversities, is enough.
"Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything."
As You Like It, 2.1.13
Poetry Friday today is hosted by Karen at The Blog with the Shockingly Clever Title.