I asked Gina, our wonderful teacher, to share some of her experiences here at Tranquilo Bay with us. Here is one of her stories.
So, here goes the first entry of the life and times of the Tranquilo Bay teacher, the best job I have ever had the pleasure of holding…sorry the position is taken!
When I began teaching at Tranquilo Bay in March of 2008, we started working on Kindergarten material since Tres was 4 and Scott 5 years old. In August, we were studying parts of the plant. Tranquilo Bay is blessed with a beautiful and vivacious jungle setting, so we just naturally began to learn about our surroundings. I remember in elementary school an “experiment” of sorts where I placed a few popcorn seeds in a dampened paper towel and then shoved the towel into a clear plastic container to watch the roots grow. It was fascinating to see the roots do their thing. I thought Tres and Scott might enjoy this too, but with a twist to the original experiment.
As we wandered around TB grounds during recess we chose a few blue seeds from a heliconia plant and then other seeds from a mystery fruit found decomposing. We created a comparison experiment to see which seeds would grow best: by planting some in soil and others in a dampened paper towel. We put these samples in recycled clear plastic peanut butter containers. TB is great about reduce, reuse, and recycle. All the vegetable scraps from the kitchen are processed to create super rich beautiful black compost, so we put this to good use. As the smart boys predicted, the lovely composted soil produced the healthiest little seedlings.
Nevertheless, Tres and Scott were enamored with these plants. I never expected such a response. Each morning on our arrival to school it was the first thing to do: check on the plants! So Tres and Scott bonded quickly with their seedlings and became very attached to them. We nurtured our seedlings and transplanted them into larger containers. While they did their growing we practiced many scientific skills such as measuring their weekly doses of water in milliliters, measuring their heights in centimeters and creating a table to chart their growth, making observations on their happiness and changes, and finally creating a bar graph showing their progress.
It was November and time for me to take my birthday vacation. I would be away from TB for 5 weeks. (Gosh, I love teacher perks!) I felt the plants would suffer without me around to regulate watering and they were sufficiently big enough for transplanting to the big world of Tranquilo Bay grounds. During our recess, Tres and Scott carefully scouted out their planting sites. The next day we returned with fresh compost for enriching the plants’ new homes, a shovel, our plants and a couple of large straight tree limbs to mark their location. I did most of the sweating by digging the holes and for some reason the boys did not feel like getting dirty that day, so my nails took a bit of punishment as I showed them how to mix the compost in with the existing soil, remove the plants from their plastic containers, place them in the soil (but not too deep) and cover up their roots just right. I was planning on Scott and Tres doing all the dirty work, so I hadn’t brought any gloves. Next time!
So, every once in a while during “recreo” we wander over to see how our first transplants are faring….and above the banter between Tres and Scott debating over which plant is whose, we all agree that our plants are very happy and healthy. A lovely addition to the beautiful gardens of Tranquilo Bay.
Needless to say, these little seedlings have led to something much bigger than I expected. Now, we are growing all kind of things….any seed we spot, which is a lot around here, the boys want to plant. We have a lovely avocado sapling sprouting new leaves and reaching higher every day. Since the boys are so into growing things and I am craving a larger variety of veggies in my life, I bought a bunch of vegetable seeds on my way back form my birthday vacation. Through some sort of inspiration in having my own garden, about two years ago I purchased a book about organic gardening. Now, I believe I may have a real reason to crack its spine.
I myself grew up on a small farm in Tennessee and spent much of my time outdoors wandering around, so I suppose this is one of the reasons I love it here so much and enjoy spending time in nature with Scott and Tres. While growing up, we had a nice sized garden. At Tranquilo Bay, due to our somewhat isolated spot on Bastimentos Island, our supply of vegetables is carted a long way over the mountains, the variety a bit on the low side with some chemicals used in helping them do their thing. So….just last week, the boys and I scooped up some rich composted TB soil and planted seeds for spinach, mustard greens, and chives. For watering, Tres and Scott used curled up banana flowers that made perfect bowls for giving our veggie seeds their first drink. Now the anticipation of our newest seedlings has begun…. I’ll keep you posted.