At the midnight hour, the day before we were supposed to return back to our classrooms, the deal fell through. Anger. Rage. And once again, a trip up to the capital in the thousands is what many Arizona teachers did.
"20 By 20" was Governor Ducey's response to the public education crisis in Arizona. In other words, a 20 percent raise by the year 2020. Originally it was 2 percent, but Arizona teachers had had it. Classrooms falling apart, support staff gone, and the loss of amazing teachers to other states were just a few issues that set off the Red For Ed movement.
Exhausted physically and mentally by the strange hours of the strike and (not getting paid), I prepared for our fundraising event with the Wrenegades. The crazy hours were taking their toll on my body. I wanted to back out, but I made a promise to the team and I didn't want to break our year tradition.
I birded, but my mind was on the strike. How many more days would we go like this? Would our demands be met? Would they extend our school days? There were so many balls up in the air that it was difficult to concentrate. And my sleep schedule was all off.
.....which was to just go with the flow. I can't be 100 percent all the time, but I will try my best.
Our evening was made even better when we started getting into the creepy urban wildlife spaces like the Sweetwater Wetlands. I shared with the team why I had the heeby jeebies and they kind of all laughed it off until the person from Tucson Water, who unlocked the gate, joined us and shared a similar tale.
There are no ghosts or goblins. But there are strange characters that hang out at the park during all times of the day. Two such characters are known as Raccoon Bob and The Butcher. When the lady started telling the story about the Butcher, they all burst out laughing. I could tell that they hadn't birded Sweetwater enough to know that the Butcher was real.
And while we were there, Raccoon Bob PASSED us in his rusty old bug TWICE! Raccoon Bob hides in the darkness to watch mammals at night. His favorite mammals are the raccoon. I wasn't afraid of him. I was more afraid of the Butcher. He rides in an old red meat wagon and lives out of the vehicle. Birders swear that he has been breaking into their vehicles. And I'm also of the mind that it's the Butcher responsible for the parking lot crime wave. We didn't see him that evening, but I knew he was around the area. So did TEP(Tucson Electric and Power)
After the Sweetwater experience, I became a zombie up on Mt. Lemmon. I couldn't focus for the life of me. It was 2 or 3 AM and I was cold.
In the morning, I found a letter on a rock overlooking the grand canyons of Mt. Lemmon. The team thought I was joking around at first when I read the letter aloud, but it was a sad note. A hiker had recently passed away on the trails after getting lost. By the time he was found, he was too far gone. Our team member, Sara, saw his body in the bag before they took him away. The letter was from his niece telling him that she would never forget him and that every time they looked out from that vista, she would think of him. On the rock by the letter were a pair of sunglasses and a tea packet. We folded the letter neatly up and placed it back on the rock. It was a moment of reflection.
|Red-faced Warbler with the nest site behind|
It was early morning and the woods were dark. But how beautiful. Then I found out the strike was off and it was back to work again getting the students ready for the finals.
|American Robin guarding a nest|