Ephemera is defined as “items of collectible memorabilia, typically written or printed ones, that were originally expected to have only short-term usefulness.” Some publishers also refer to it as “dead matter.” I prefer ephemera, and while it typically is applied to that which has a short-term usefulness, sometimes it lasts longer. Much longer. Today, as I’m feeling a bit wistful and melancholy, I look around my home and see another sort of ephemera–the ephemera of a career. Scattered across this page are gifts from schools I have visited over the years that have meaning to me and still bring a smile to my heart. Sometimes schools ask what sorts of collections I have or what my hobbies are, and other times they simply surprise. These gems aren’t necessary, certainly not a condition of my Performance Agreement. But the extra thoughtfulness of librarians and teachers and the schools they represent is and always has been meaningful to me. A dazzling red and yellow sock puppy from a school in Europe. A sock monkey from a school in Georgia. A mosaic banana slug paperweight from Humboldt County (California). A sea snail shell, also from Humboldt County, but a different school, which was part of a Max and Felix box of letters from students. The young lad who contributed the shell said he didn’t want me to forget the ocean because I live in the desert. (I have not forgotten the ocean and I still have the letters, each and every one. The box sits prominently on a shelf in my guest room.)
A couple of blue-and-white ceramic love birds from the American Embassy School in Mexico. A colorful and fun original painting by Brian Andreas from a school in Iowa. It’s caption says a lot to me: “There are lives I can imagine without children but none of them have the same laughter and noise.”
There is more ephemera from this career. So much more. But looking back over the 30-plus-years that I have been writing and visiting schools, I realize I have been blessed to cross paths with so many wonderful people and outstanding schools. Thank you all for being a part of my life and bringing me such joyful memories.