Thursday, January 23, 2014

LOST: One Yellow Plastic Spiral Field Notebook

Once upon a time there was this geology student who took a lot of pride in her field journal. She traveled everywhere with it. Death Valley, Yosemite, Lava Beds, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Arches NP, Yellowstone, Glacier NP, Petrified Forest, to name a few of the major places. In ten states and several field trips with her geology professor, she wrote, reflected and drew pictures in the effort to retain the geological information she learned.

The field journal is a piece of you. It is your thoughts and interpretations of how you see the Earth and its processes. It connects the world of geology to memory through words, symbols, and sketches. The field journal is almost as sacred to me as my family bible. Hours of studying that book had earned me decent grades in tests and quizzes over three years of geology classes and trips.

It was nothing fancy on the outside. A yellow plastic cover with spiral-bound note pages. What made it unique was what was on the pages.

On one trip to the Eastern Sierra Nevada (one of my favorites), we made a stop along the Walker River. After a brief lecture from our professor some of us walked up the channel a ways to look at some trees. When we returned to the parking area we climbed inside the school district generic white vans and headed to Bodie, CA. I was excited to see Bodie again as this time I was prepared with my new Nikon camera to take some photos. As we exited the vans, I grabbed (out of habit) my field journal to prepare for notes from our professor's lecture. What I ended up grabbing was nothing. I couldn't find my field note book. Its place was always on the dashboard...always. The panic set in quickly. The last time I had it, it was at Walker River where I remembered placing it on a rock near where we descended into the river channel.

My heart sunk. Fighting back tears, I received lots of positive words from fellow students and my professor suggested after Bodie we make a quick trip back to the river to get my notebook. Boy, that made me happier. Still I worried.

Upon arrival to the parking area, several of us searched for my journal. It was gone. My heart sunk for good this time, and fighting back my tears was a hopeless battle. The rest of the day was spent sick to my stomach thinking about all the wonderful trips I had been on and the class lectures I had made notes from - all lost in that little yellow notebook. My friends were sweet and offered their sympathies and the weekend ended back at our community college with my bag a little lighter and vacant of my journal.

During the middle of the week I received an email from my professor. He had been contacted by a teacher from a school in the next county over from us. Apparently, he and his mom enjoyed fishing along the Walker River. Yes, he had found my journal, and being a teacher knew it had been done by someone who took time in creating a little personal masterpiece. He spent a few nights looking through it in the hopes of finding a name of its owner. Then as he continued searching, he found my professor's name and contacted him. What is the chance? Miles and miles from home...a miracle? Coincidence? I didn't rightly care...I was getting my field journal back.

That teacher is my hero...he will always be in my mind as being the one who brought me back so many memories and my favorite field journal. He was caring enough to "protect" it from getting into hands that perhaps would not have admired it for its value to a student.

So, the moral of the story. Buy a black permanent marker. Write your name and telephone number in your field journal...maybe even in 2-3 places. NEVER stop being amazed by people who do the right thing and look out for you, even if you don't know them well or at all.

They exist and they are out our classrooms. Teachers are heroes and should be appreciated.

1 comment:

  1. Okay, that made me cry. Wonderful teacher. Garry is the best!