This year the 4th of July meant watching the parade in Br Harbor, ME as opposed to traveling back to AZ as we did last year. The drawback to our itinerary is that we’re instead traveling the day after on my 45th birthday.

Some firsts for our family were that our daughters, Makenna and Madelyn, walked in the parade with the Camp Beech Cliff float – the camp they attended this week. As we dropped them off at the YMCA, the parade’s staging area, Makenna reminded us again not to forget to get lots of candy and try to get a pink squishy pig the Bank of Bar Harbor throws out each year.

As I began shooting video and pictures of the event I tried to capture images related to this week’s Make Cycle. As I combed through the footage of local politicians and the mobile dog grooming float, I saw grown men having a blast on their go karts. And the precision with which they drove and did circles and flew over a truck on a three-foot wide ramp was truly impressive. As I watched the videos over and over, I wondered what that must have felt like the very first time. How scared were they? And are they still scared to this day? Are they bored with the performance or do they enjoy putting on a show?

Which now leads me to the next first of our Bar Harbor parade: the log rolling exhibition. On the island there is a tourist trap with nightly lumberjack shows. In the 40 years I’ve been coming to Mt. Desert Island and Acadia National Park,I’ve never been to one of the shows. It seemed silly. But after watching these young men battle it out on a soggy log, I’m hooked. Maybe next year will be the year for a lumberjack show. Once again after watching the several video clips and pictures of the log rollers, I wondered what if must have been like to try log rolling for the first time. Did they get hurt? What possessed them to try it in the first place? Are there scholarships for young lumberjacks?

Which now leads me to our last first of the parade and festivities: lobster races. Apparently the YMCA has been hosting these lobster races for 30+ years. Local businesses sponsor a lobster and the little bugs are pitted against one another in 6-lobster heats. We didn’t stick around for the quarter- and semi-finals, but I understand a world record was broken for elapsed time. And people actually bet on these races, but all the proceeds go to the YMCA and other local charities. Then I heard the most amazing fact. This year, after 30 years of running these races, they were starting the lobsters facing backwards. Facing backwards? Was this some sort of gimmick? Some way to even out the competition? Nope. It was because lobsters naturally travel backwards, especially when they are under duress. 

Then I started to piece these events together to make sense of the day in regards to being a teacher. Shouldn’t we let our students play more? Shouldn’t they be like the go-karters tinkering with their machines, planning out precise movements and taking risks? And shouldn’t we let our students have more choices in the classroom allowing them infinite ways in which to express themselves? Shouldn’t our students be like the young lumberjacks, once again taking risks trying out something almost none of us we even attempt, which may or may not lead to some career? And shouldn’t we get to know our students so deeply that we push them in directions they want to go, not in directions we want them to go? Who knows, maybe spend a school day walking backwards. You might find something interesting behind you. Or would that now be in front of you?


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