Appalachian spring

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” Hal Borland, American author, journalist, naturalist

Though members of our household who are not teenagers are still wearing socks, spring has finally come to Appalachia. And, if the past repeats itself, it will come on quickly. Budding leaves held back by the cold will explode. Ice scrapers we were using early this week will be stashed in trunks. By weekend, we’ll break out the lawn mower.

Spring, like so much of life, is inevitable. Life will always, always find a way.

I am reminded of this not so much by the weather as by an unusual event we attended last night. Those who have given up on public schools as hopeless pools of degradation and violence should have been there. It was a unique performance that involved all 100 plus members of a grade level doing a series of short plays reminiscent of World War II era radio shows, complete with commercials and sound effects.

We watched children, many of whom we’ve been blessed to know since pre-school, pop balloons to emulate battle scenes, speak French in a spy scene, have their characters’ plans to flee Poland crushed, and sing jingles about everything from Slinky toys to Monopoly board games.

It was a tour de force of history, rapid-fire story telling, team work and a view of humanity that is peculiarly American. The latter is what everyone really needed to “see.” While we actually got to see the show as if we were in the studio, it was impossible to forget that what we were “seeing” was actually mimicking an audio production.

It was only because of sight that we knew there was a white boy playing the part of a Tuskegee airman. That we knew that students of every color, ethnicity and religion were playing the parts of Jews, priests, Nazis, mafioso and upper-crust white people. That we knew that at least one of the jingle singers was wearing a hijab, that others were first-generation immigrants, that still others who shined in key roles did so in spite of mighty struggles in the academic realm.

It was an Appalachian Hamilton, full of our story, not your story or my story. And it is inevitable. While various political factions wrestle with who we are as a people and a nation, most of the actual people seem to have already figured this out. American life is moving right along, city by city, school by school, street by street, neighbor by neighbor.

Here’s hoping that it will continue to always, always find a way.

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