Three Days in Houston

I’m in the Houston airport waiting to fly home after three days in the Deer Park school district. Thanks to the five schools who hosted me. Many of the students had read at least one Percy Jackson book in class, so they were an enthusiastic group. Deer Park and Pasadena are to the east of Houston, and the landscape is dominated by refineries.

On Tuesday morning, I drove past a plastics plant which had an immense noxious black cloud billowing into the sky. I was thinking, “This can’t be healthy.” The school was only a few blocks away. Turns out there was a fire at the plant, so we “sheltered” inside for the morning. The teachers assured me this was not a regular occurrence. My favorite event of the day was a writers’ workshop with selected 6-8th graders. We had a great time and the kids came up with some very creative ideas.

Today, I had lunch with another group of students and faculty who had some excellent questions. My favorite came from a teacher, who was wondering why I made Camp Half-Blood grow strawberries. I told him that I remembered strawberry farms on Long Island the first time I visited, many years ago. He told me he’d done research and found that strawberries grew in many places in Greece, where they were known as the ‘tears of Aphrodite.’ Very cool! I wished I’d planned that, but it’s a total coincidence.

The next few days I’ll be attending the National Council for Teachers of English conference in San Antonio. It will be nice to be at home for a while!

Rick Riordan