Passing back through Tri-Cities again. Optimistic little blooms have begun to poke and sprout through layers of wintery gravel mush, plans and plots multiply by the handful, small children are suddenly not quite so small anymore.

I taught some shadow-puppet workshops yesterday, where tidy legions of 2nd-graders quietly and diligently manufactured their little red horses with fierce determination, screwing up their faces and wrinkling their noses with the effort, laughing at my own clumsy handiwork. Portions of their school date back one hundred years, when bricklaying and corbeling were marks of civic dignity, long since abandoned for the public construction style which makes no distinction between the facades of elementary schools and penitentiaries.

Murals of children's book characters and constellations adorn the breezeways and open-air passages. Asleep in my motel room, I dream of painted stars and talking mice, and oppressive concrete walls knocked open by grim little 2nd-graders on horseback. Red horses, naturally.

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