Monday, June 12, 2017

Summer Brain Drain? I Doubt It.

The headline in this morning's Spokesman-Review talked about how to combat summer brain drains, specificially for students.  I thought to myself that summer should not be blamed for brain drains.  

Quite the opposite:  I think summer refreshes, stimulates and soothes the brain, preparing it for the next installment where someone or something tries to stuff our brains with a whole bunch of new material----often material to which we might not be all that receptive.

Everything needs a break from the mundane, and I'm thinking summer does just that for the brain.  SEE, I've gotten poetic this morning and am just betting that it's the summer influence which helped that sentence roll off the keyboard. 

Seriously speaking, summer does allow us to point our brains different directions from the same-o same-o we may have experienced over a winter or a school year. 

Take last night, for instance.  My brain, after racing through all the "to do's" of yet another busy day told me it was time to take a break from my usual routine of going inside, watching the news while grazing on the usual very informal Sunday-goodies.  I knew that "60 Minutes" had started the reruns, so there was no point in waiting around for one of my favorite shows on TV.

"Let's just go get a hamburger," I suggested to Bill, after finishing up a 4-hour lawn-mowing job.  Bill needed no convincing.  

So, I took a bath, dressed in all clean clothes, and off to town we went.  Bill likes MickDuff's, and I needed no convincing when he suggested we go there.  Before going into the restaurant/pub, we met a pair of handsome, sleek dogs from a breed I'd never seen.

Assuming the owners were tourists, I asked about the breed.  They're African hunting dogs, known as "Besenji's."  I also learned that the owners were not tourists. The Yaw's both knew me from their days at Sandpoint High School.   

Seeing those beautiful animals spurred my curiosity to learn more, so this morning I read a summary from Wikipedia and learned the following interesting fact:  The Basenji produces an unusual yodel-like sound commonly called a "baroo", due to its unusually shaped larynx.[1] This trait also gives the Basenji the nickname "soundless dog."

After my brain received a new helping of nourishment, we proceeded on in to MickDuffs, where things were pretty laid-back, although I did enjoy a brief visit with Scott Barksdale who was a favorite as a student and remains so as a friend.  

Bill and I enjoyed a pleasant meal. Then, it was off to the walk way behind First Avenue stores, along Sand Creek---before which I had told Bill I'd buy him an ice cream cone at Panhandle Cone after taking some photos. 

On this very lovely and serene June evening, I surmised that this is definitely the perfect time to temporarily rename the mud basin we see all winter to the "jewel of Sandpoint."  

Yes, Sand Creek is full and alive with pure, glass-like reflections now that its increased waters have covered all the mud we see for a good portion of the year. 

As I strolled down the walkway along the creek, Bill studied some Ross and Dann Hall photos up above.  I chuckled to myself upon seeing the name for the first boat Patience from Hope, ID.  

Yup, we locals utilize both of those for many months out of the year, I thought, as we wait for nights like this. 

After I snapped a few photographs, Bill and I headed back up the hill to First Avenue, turning left toward Panhandle Cone.  The sidewalk was alive with activity, most of it centering around the popular ice cream parlor. 

Then, I saw a man walking toward me with a piece of clothing partially covering his face, in an effort to sneak up and surprise me. Within seconds my brain went into action with a big whoop, holler and hug.  

It was my former student (Class of 1982) and close family friend Jim Imholte, who had arrived in Sandpoint from his other home in Arizona. A visit with Jim is always a treat.  He told us his wife Laurie, a Phoenix educator, is also headed this way, only via road trip. 

After selecting our favorite flavors of ice cream and touching bases with a parlor full of familiar faces, we stepped outside and sat on sidewalk chairs, interspersing our time with Jim with side visits as other friends came in and out of the parlor.  

In one case, one of the "bird men" of Sandpoint and his wife went in for a cone. While we talked, I asked Rich DeCarlo about the bird I had seen the night before on Woodside Road. It did its best to avoid my camera by hiding in the grass. 

"Bobolink," he said, and, yes, it's normal for bobolinks to hang out down on the ground in grasslands.  Rich told us we're likely to see them along Hickey Road. 

Like the Bisenji's, I don't think I've ever actually seen a bobolink until Saturday night. Again, it was neat to learn a little something new. 

We also learned while enjoying our ice cream that another former student, Dick Ross, is also retiring from teaching, like my sisters.  

We saw Susie, the vet tech who always accompanies Dr. Grace to our place whenever our horses need attention.  And, with that encounter, we met many of her extended family members. 

And so, what had started as a simple suggestion to go have a hamburger on a summer night turned into a highly stimulating experience, both for my brain and my soul.  I think Bill enjoyed his evening just as much as I did. 

That said, I really wonder if we could call summer breaks a "brain drain" for students.  A student who has finished her fifth year of school is coming to the Lovestead today---to learn.  In this case, it's more about Lefty and more about grooming and riding her 4-H project. 

Learning never really ends with the calendar.  It simply takes on different forms in different settings, so in my opinion, summer should not have to take full responsibility for brains draining.  That responsibility falls on the people who own those brains. 

Happy Monday! Have fun learning something new today.  And, of course, you can report back! :)

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