The grading of papers has become perhaps my least-favorite aspect of academic life (well, except for waiting to see what new idiocy may erupt from people who haven't set foot on a campus for a quarter-century but who are somehow in a position to set policy)--not because the papers are any worse than they used to be, but because there are so many of them (97 students this term, all writing every week) and because I have slowed down over the decades. I brought three sets home this weekend (after finishing two at the office) and am pleased to report that two were finished yesterday. Only the essays from the second Comp 1 class remain, and today looks to be a stay-in-and-wait-for-the-snow-to-melt day (good for grading).
But yesterday was balmy--nearly forty degrees in the afternoon(!)--and the Bulgaria Group met for lunch in downtown Marietta, and the sidewalks were (mostly) clear. After lots of laughing with my erstwhile traveling companions, I just had to set off along the river trail. Even though the ice-free zone lasted only until Wooster Street, the short trek was more than worthwhile.
It was a good day for birds. Crows were perched atop several trees, keeping their usual observant eye on the goings-on in Muskingum Park. A few gulls were swooping above the water, and while I couldn't see most of the smaller birds, there was enough birdsong to indicate that mating season isn't too far off. (According to one of my luncheon companions, February 14 was once believed to herald the beginning of the avian season of romance.) A flock of dark birds dotted the river near a downtown dock, and someone who can ID assorted waterfowl better than I informed me that there were three different types of mergansers in the group.
And the sun was shining, but the sunlight was deceptive. It looked warm, and yesterday was the warmest day we'd had for a while, but the wind off the Muskingum made me wish I'd brought a toboggan to cover my ears; the wind was finding its way under my hood and giving serious annoyance to sinus-plagued ears. However, the sunlight was causing most satisfying sparkles in the river, providing a nice contrast to the ice that lingered in places. It was not, unfortunately, doing much to cheer up the sight of the gray, frozen slush along every street and walkway.
At least we got enough snow last night to cover the gray--until the next melt starts.
Now--to work on those papers.