One of the profoundly cool bits about my academic life is that my students participate in service learning projects. We’ve been invited to work with the Washington Public Library, an activity coordinated by Nick at the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities. This translates into road trips to Washington, where the downtown has a certain historic Midwestern charm. I always photograph the latest downtown yarn bombing endeavor, the mash-up of old-fashioned craft and its newer uses:
After their tour, my students humored me by hopping onto the pond carpet in the library’s children’s room.
At this point, it’s probably worth observing that they chose to perch sensibly on carefully selected lily pads, while I just jumped in with both feet.
It was time well spent, seeing the library space and checking out the collection they’d be working with.
Usually, I ride along with Nick, which allows me to gawk at the fields and the raptors gliding overhead while coaxes the car from Point A to Point B with no apparent difficulty. This time, we took two cars in order to ferry my students along, bringing my way-finding aptitude into play, but my intrinsic sense of navigation makes Alice’s adventures in Wonderland look like the product of strategic direction. While I ably followed Nick to Washington, I somehow missed his departure on the return trip. Not to worry — I came bearing Mapquest print-outs. (Yes, I realize this sounds like something you’d read in The Onion.) My students dutifully read me directions as we wound through one-way streets that didn’t seem entirely familiar.
We gawked at the roadside for clues that we were in fact headed the right direction. None of them provided immediate confirmation. A sign indicating that we were to watch for non-motorized vehicles on the roadway was indeed followed, shortly thereafter, by a horse-drawn carriage. We drove past the Kalona Cheese House and this lovely looking antique shop — sites not featured prominently on the outbound trip. Finally, one of our number sensibly pulled out a cell phone and opted for its GPS, rather than continuing to wonder if these points of interest were in fact clues that we were headed home, before they all ran out of good cheer about the scenic route. Hurrah for librarians and their assessments of information resources!