Teachers Write! 6/5 Tuesday Quick-Write
Write for two minutes to describe a very specific place.
Dr. George M. Baker Memorial Field is where I played high school football. It’s where my uncle and father played high school football, cousins, and all of my brothers. The field sits directly behind the high school, with a small set of bleachers lining each sideline.
It’s not a stadium. It’s a field. Big enough to fit a small town, but small enough to feel intimate.
(Wow, that 2 minutes went fast)
One minute each:
Everything you SEE – Pay attention to big things and tiny things. Search for concrete details.
I was able to drive by the football field on my way home from work (my wife is a teacher where we went to high school), and the field looked empty. The grass was perfect: no divots, dead spots, or markings. It looked weird. I high school football field on a spring afternoon, is not a high school football field. It’s missing the band and the crowd. I missed the consession stand lines, and endzone markings. It was weird.
Everything you HEAR – Be specific. Don’t just say “a scraping sound.” Say a “high-pitched, raspity-raspity-screeeeeaking noise.” You can make up words if you want.If you aren’t in the place, try to find a video. Or guess what you might hear.
When I think back to when my field was a field of dreams, I can hear the announcer letting the fans know that as we enter the fourth quarter that hot dogs are half priced. I can hear our quarterback Cory Parrott call out the play, “Half back out right pass on 2, Half back out righ pass on 2. Ready? BREAK” I can hear quiet as we take our postions on the line and get ready for the snap. The calm before the storm.
Everything you SMELL – Especially pay attention to the smells that surprise you. If you’re not in the place, pictures can help you smell. Look carefully…what would that dumpster smell like?
I smell sweat. Not nasty old man sweat but football sweat. Seriously, it’s a beautiful smell. It’s the smell of teenage boys working, fighting, and coming together. I can smell the grass. It kind of smells hot from the lights. Hmm..(this is hard)
Everything you FEEL – Weather, wind, things that land on you or brush against you. Again – pictures help you imagine if you’re not there, and if it’s not a real place, try imagining images and then assigning sensations from a similar place that might be real (desert, tundra, etc.)
I feel the energy from the crowd. They are lined up near the endzone at a tense moment of the game and I can feel the heat, excitement and energy floating off of their bodies and onto the field. I see my coach: worried. My teammates: nervous. Myself: scared.
Now, go back and rewrite that descriptive paragraph. Include your best tiny, surprising details, and work on senses other than sight. Better? More vivid? This is a fun activity to do with kids, too. Have them write about the playground or gym or cafeteria; then go there and hunt for sensory details!
The student section has left the bleachers and they moved down onto the field lining the north endzone. Energy from their anticipation and excitement seep into a worried coach, nervous teammates, and a scared Colby. George M. Baker Memorial Field is electric on a Friday night, when the Panthers have a shot to do something that doesn’t happen very often: win a football game. My hands are sweaty. I don’t need much, but I need my hands. I need them to be dry, calm, and precise. As we break from the huddle and head to our lines, the world becomes instantly silent. I survey the line. I can hear the kicker breath and the long snapper take a deep breath. I wipe my hands on pants one last time. Here we go.