Thank You, Kate Chandler

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This photo of Kate was taken from the St. Mary’s College Campus Farm Facebook Page.

When I went to college, I didn’t think much of it (though in general I felt all the teachers really did a great job). But one class stood out then, and still does now. It was Environmental Literature, and I think more than any other course I have ever taken, it was responsible for setting me along the path I have walked down this past ten years or so, which has been a hell of a good one.

The teacher of that class, Kate Chandler, recently passed away following a prolonged bout or battle or experience or whatever the really proper word is for what you do with cancer when it comes to roost. That is, Kate is now no longer with us. She has vacated her body and taken up residence wherever else she had planned to go, or wherever else she was planned to go to, or whatever happens when folks say goodbye. I don’t personally know where she is now, but I don’t think “gone” is very accurate. For one, I still feel her in my heart. And of course there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of other students that must feel the same way, and there are her other friends, loved ones, etc. Suffice it to say, she is wherever she is.

Before Kate passed, I wanted to send her something from my journal, which I kept during that Environmental Literature class. But when I started thumbing through it I found it difficult to pick just one piece. So much of it felt so important to me, so prescient of who I would become, so formative. So I just re-sent her a letter I wrote (S1 and S2 below) at the end of the semester, and left it at that.

I am proud of what I have done, and what I hope to do with my life. And I think I owe a lot of that to Kate, and to her class.

So, here is a post for Kate, wherever she is. And for you, whoever you are. I want to share with you the things Kate shared with me, and this is the best way I can think of to do it. Hi, Kate. Thank you for everything. I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane.

All of my love,
Chris

P.S. A final note: a poem I wrote during that class. I thought I might share it in particular, as it touches on the subject of things that pass.

The Seasons
Everything is born
Everything has a great time
Everything calms down
Everything dies

… I guess I should have added a line saying “And then Everything is born again” or something like that… But can we agree that that is implied?


WHAT FOLLOWS IS A COLLECTION OF SOME OF THE WRITINGS I DID DURING KATE CHANDLER’S ENVIRONMENTAL LITERATURE CLASS WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE, BACK IN 2006 OR 2007, I LOSE TRACK OF DATES LIKE THAT. THE CAPTIONS SHOW WHICH PAGES GO WITH WHICH. FEEL FREE TO DROP COMMENTS ONTO THE IMAGES IF THE WRITING INSPIRES YOU TO DO SO.

And by the way, here is a bit of a Kate Chandler reading list, from her wonderful class. I’m sure I’m forgetting titles and authors, but here’s a smattering of good stuff.

  • Thoreau, Walden
  • Dillard, A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
  • Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge
  • Ed Abbey, Desert Solitaire
  • Gary Snyder, Turtle Island
  • Aldo Leopold, Sand County Almanac (in particular, Thinking Like a Mountain)
  • John Muir, The Mountains of California
  • Joseph Wood Krutch
  • Wendell Berry
  • Barry Lopez
  • Wallace Stegner
  • Isabella Bird
  • Mary Austin
  • Barbara Hurd
  • Barbara Kingsolver

 

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