Some Loves

Some loves I wrote about while teaching at Duval High School in Lincoln County. Written sometime between 1977 and 1999.
I love the hemlock tree out near the woodshed. With snow it reminds me of a cathedral, but it is prettier, it changes its beauty with the seasons. I love how I feel when I walk out on the porch and see the snow on the trees, feel the cool air that makes me feel bigger, so big I become a spirit that is everywhere. I love a heavy wet snow that breaks trees down and changes everything.
I always want to live here. Even when there is no snow or leaves to hide the trailers across the creek, it is greater than living on a street in town. I like being here alone and I like being here with Mae Ellen.
I like teaching especially now that I have no ninth grade classes. Older kids are easier, they are more mature and are getting accustomed to the hormones. They don’t physically and mentally vibrate in all directions at once.
I love to see my students discover. Smiling at and with the happy ones is joy beyond the beyond. Bringing a shy grin to the face of a bashful kid is best of all. Watching a sullen kid brighten up a little and lose his cynicism in moments of interest that he doesn’t even think about hiding. To hear “that’s cool!” so many times it seems ordinary—that’s cool. My kids look forward to the hands on activities, waiting for and expecting the magic to start.
One of the great moments was when a good friend, a retired and great teacher, visited my ninth grade science classes for a week and guided us through electronic activities. We recorded one of the classes with a camcorder. The students were so interested and involved that when the bell rang we heard on the video the cry from all over the room of “Oh no!”
I love to teach. I like the ecstasy every morning, the community involvement, people honking their horns at me, waving, the respect. I love to see the lights come on in kid’s eyes and the thanks they give me. I love to learn new things and add new activities. And summers are great to have off and then I am ready to go back in the fall.

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (, and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation ( I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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One Response to Some Loves

  1. Luke says:

    Beautiful. I remember the tree weighed down with wet snow very well. Beautiful

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