PEGGY RAMBACH

 

Gabriella Haddad – College Application Essay

We bookworms each have our own roadmap, so we choose different paths of discovery. Mine is always the same. I walk into the Andover Bookstore, breathe in the dusty sweet smell of books on the shelves, and make a beeline for the fiction section. I walk past the A's, B's, and C's, knowing my target lies within the J's. James, James, where are you James? Who am I kidding? I know exactly where the James section is, but to seem less James-obsessed I'll play the role of wandering patron. And then I see it. Having finished The Turn of the Screw (Four times, I might add) I couldn't wait to pick up Daisy Miller.

The title of bookworm can mean different things to different people. Some assume bookworms are introverts who live alone, convinced they don't need friends, as long as they have their books. Others perceive them as pretentious people who casually drop references to the works of Tolstoy and Shakespeare. Neither stereotype fits me. I have a large circle of friends (who never cease to make fun of my bookworminess), a happy-go-lucky attitude, an extroverted, gregarious personality, and a busy life. But every Saturday I give myself time for me. I sneak away into the Andover Bookstore.

I'll read anywhere. It can be in the backseat during a long family road trip, on fluffy green grass during the spring or summer, curled up in my bed with a cup of hot chocolate on winter nights; I'm not picky. But there's no place like the Andover Bookstore. Much like the rabbit-hole in Alice in Wonderland, the Andover Bookstore is a portal that takes me from my quotidian life into different worlds. I've seen a murder committed in Henry James' Turn of the Screw, I've heard unfamiliar dialects and learned about racism in the works of Mark Twain, and I've seen Jane Eyre come to respect herself and mature. I can sit at the window seat reading for hours, while whispering strangers walk by. Time passes slowly. At the Andover Bookstore there's no rush, only books and always free lukewarm coffee and stale animal crackers.

 

Sound Poem
Zoe Xi – Third Grade

I won’t be inside much longer
to hear the sound of people on CNN talk
and the sound of computer keys clicking
I will also not hear the sound of paper rustling
and the fireplace’s fire burning

I will not hear the sound of chairs moving
or the microwave beeping when the coffee is done
I won’t hear the steamer’s whooshing when it makes buns
or the blender whirring when it makes strawberry smoothies

But I will hear the red robin chirping
and a gray Honda’s tires splashing in a puddle
I will hear the neighbor’s poodle barking
and a lawnmower chopping grass

I will hear a woman’s sandals clicking on cement
and a freight train loudly whistling
I will hear leaves rustling in the wind
and men shouting in a soccer game

I’d say to my friends, I haven’t seen you since school
And I’d say, What do you want to do?

 

Bird-Research Story
Excerpt
Zoe Xi 4th Grade

Once, during mating season in June, a female blue jay named Skylar, came searching for a perfect husband who was big and strong like Skylar’s father. Skylar had imagined her husband handsome, with a beautiful black ring around his neck and a sharp beak. But none of the males were like that this year. They were all small and weak. There was Casper, who was afraid of his own dad. Casper lived in an old, not-used squirrel hole. He spent his day pretending to be a woodpecker. There was also Dexter who loved playing with the basketball down at the Featherton’s house. His favorite food was slugs and he loved smushing them up with the basketball. The last choice was the twins, Drip and Drop. Neither of them liked sharing. In fact, they spent most of the day arguing about who would get the juiciest worms for dinner. Drip usually got them, because he was older than Drop by 7 minutes.

Skylar sighed as she looked around. No one was suitable if she wanted to have strong babies. There were also more female blue jays than males this year, so that was a problem. There were eleven females and four males! Drip was chasing two female blue jays. One of them appeared disgusted and the other was happy to have found a male who liked her. All the other males were also chasing blue jays and trying to impress them by fluffing up their feathers and bobbing their head up and down. Skylar stayed hidden in the branches of a tree. She thought she might just stay single all her life.

Then Skylar noticed the clouds were getting grayer and grayer. She also heard some thunder. But Skylar was so annoyed there weren’t any good husbands that she didn’t fly for shelter. All of a sudden, lightening struck the tree she was perched on. Skylar fell to the ground. Luckily she wasn’t injured. More lightening and thunder boomed in the sky and Skylar began to try to find her nest, but the rain and wind was too powerful.

 

The Great Competition
Bird Research Story
Austin Wu – Fifth Grade

It was a warm, sunny day and the city of Feathertown was bustling with activity. The streets were crowded with people hurrying to work. Cars cruised down the I89 while birds flitted in and out of the trees, occasionally landing on a nearby branch. If you took exit 6 and kept going forward, you would find Middle Road. There, perched on a tree was Mockingbird the Magnificent. He circled around his tree, did a double flip in mid-air and began to sing. “Witew-witew-witew, chirp-chirp-chirp-chirp, peer-peer-peer,” he sang.
His mate, Peggy, poked her head out of her nest. “That’s beautiful, honey, but remember that’s D sharp, not F flat.”
“I know, I know,” Mockingbird said. “I was just warming up.” He took a deep breath and sang again. “Witew-witew-witew, chirp-chirp-chirp, peer-peer-peer-PEER!”
“Better,” said Peggy. “But you might want to be a bit more soft on the last note. Also you might want to—”
“I GET IT!!!!!!!” shouted Mockingbird.
“Okay. Okay. I’m just saying,” said Peggy.
Mockingbird had been singing for three hours and was thoroughly exhausted. “I think I’ll go to bed, Peggy,” he said.
“Sweet dreams,” said Peggy.
As Mockingbird got read for bed, he thought about the time he’d won his very first singing contest. He had held up the golden trophy in front of everyone, and the memory was sensational. Since then, he had won many more contests, and he had the trophies to prove it. This year, he was trying even harder because if he won, he would be the first bird ever to win for the 7th time in a row. However, Mockingbird was fairly certain that he would win, just as he had over the past six years. And this year won’t be an exception, he thought as he gazed out at the starry night sky. He ruffled his gray-brown feathers, tucked his head under his wing, and fell asleep to the chirping of the crickets.

 

An Interpretation of Edward Hopper’s “Gas”
by Amanda Gimbel (Grade 7)

“Gas,” a painting by Edward Hopper tells a subtle, but powerful story about the dangers of technology. In today’s world, mechanical advances seem to be gradually eclipsing the people who created them. Even small towns are un-navigable without cars to carry us from A to B and business would be pointless if it weren’t for computers to record our transactions. The painting shows an early but frighteningly accurate portrayal of this need people have for their inventions and how we may not really be served by them.

In “Gas,” a man stands beside the gas pumps but our eye is not drawn to him. We see the pumps themselves before the attendant beside them. Three huge figures, they loom above him, commanding our attention. They stand almost humanoid in appearance, robot-like with perfectly round illuminated heads sitting atop tall, rectangular bodies, completely clothed in bright red paint except for their lighted but blank faces. The eerie feeling of their humanity is intensified by the fact that they appear to have gender; the center pump’s figure is more feminine and wears a different yellow top.

The pumps are a stark contrast to the man beside them. His garb is unremarkable, a suit of washed out blue and gray and his appearance lacks any sparkle. He slowly tends the machines, a tired and ordinary worker. His lackluster fatigue causes him to hunch as he continues he task, casting a shadow over his face that shields his eyes and expression from the world.

At first this everyday scene is easy to overlook, but Hopper uses every detail to imply a meaningful conclusion. The contrast between the two, man and machine, hints at a deeper tale. The gleaming faces of the pumps look forward with sharp intent into their own bright futures, mocking the man’s dark and downcast visage. Their stance, completely erect, with every sharp line straightened, gives his posture a feeling of unfocused exhaustion and their bright red robes shame his poor outfit. While the pumps are three-strong, there is only one attendant and he lacks their powerful presence. Hopper warns us that our inventions will, in time, outdate and outnumber us and we may grow to serve them.

The environment that surrounds the station also adds to the dark mood of the painting. A tension between the forest, the abandoned road and the gas station gives new magnitude to the message. The road separates the forest and the station. No cars or people pass by, hinting that there may be no need for the pumps and adding to the isolation of the man. The unfriendly impending gloom of the dense forest, dwarfs man’s mechanical abode, perhaps showing that above-all, Nature will reign and the earth will prevail over all out bright lights.

 

The Legend of Clyde McAdoo
By Larry Flynn (8th Grade)

The ground covered in snow
In a place not mine
The bitterness of the air
The enormous towering pine.

I only think ‘bout what I’m doin’
Not ‘bout what I’ve done.
My tan timberland boots
Feel like they weigh a ton.

I creep behind the tree
Feel its rough hewn bark
Peek out from behind it and
See a land so stark.

Right in the middle of snow,
I see a bearded man
His eyes precise and staring
With a Colt .45 in his hand

He lifts the barrel slowly
Like he’s got nothin’ better to do
But to wander round the woods
With a wad of tobacco to chew.

He’s so cold and heartless
Like this here snowy place
As he takes the gun and points it
So that death is in my face.

“Okay you scoundrel and you fool,
You have nowhere to hide
So how ‘bout you come out.
By the Law you must abide.”

The words he uttered chilled my spine.
Yet I knew that I could win
If I went for my good ol’ Winchester
To commit another sin.


Author, Peggy Rambach, runs creative writing workshops in community education settings for the Healing Arts in health care, correctional facilities, ESL programs and immigrant support centers as well as offering assistance with lesson plans in professional development presentations for middle and high school teachers. She teaches memoir writing in medical schools as part of the curriculum in Narrative Medicine and Medical Humanities. Ms. Rambach is conveniently located for teachers, students and participants from throughout New England including the Vermont (VT) cities of Bennington, Burlington and Montpelier, the Maine (ME) cities of Portland, Gardener, Kennebunkport and York, the New Hampshire (NH) cities of Portsmouth, Concord, Manchester, Dover, Nashua and Rochester, the Massachusetts (MA) cities of Boston, Newburyport, Amherst, North Hampton, Salem, Beverly, Lawrence, Lowell, Haverhill, Gloucester, Plymouth, New Bedford, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Marblehead, Rockport, Hyannis, and Falmouth, the Rhode Island (RI) cities of Providence and Newport and the Connecticut (CT) cities of New Haven and Hartford.