The Eve of School

Summer is not gone, but it is waning. I can see it in the walnut husks on the tree that are beginning to crack and blacken. Soon walnuts will litter my lawn and deck. I also see it by the grapes growing heavy on the vines. Any day now the local robins will discover they are there and begin raiding. The signs are all around me, but summer still has some scorching hot days in store. What we’ve run out of is summer vacation. That is finished, complete. Tonight will not be one of staying up late just because. I will be carefully managing bedtime because this is the first school night of the year.

I remember when the onset of summer vacation felt rife with possibility. I made long lists of things I wanted to do, places I wanted to take the kids. Summer was play time on a grand scale. Once I began working, that changed. I could no longer alter my schedule around that of the kids. I had business obligations which did not defer to vacation, in fact some of the business tasks increased because of summer. Those big summer conventions take a toll. Instead of contemplating summer as a wide open possibility, I know in late winter what things must get done during the summer months. I do lots of spontaneous day trips for the kids whenever a free day hits, but we don’t plan and promise in advance. An unexpected result of this is that here I am, at the end of the summer, without a list of things I meant to do and didn’t. I haven’t spent these last few weeks frantically trying to finish items on that list. Instead I sit here on my porch, done with things of summer, prepared for things of fall.

It is possible that my feelings of completion have more to do with resignation. Ready or not, school will begin. I did not feel ready two weeks ago when I rounded the corner into August, I did not want to think school thoughts. But then later that same day, I did. It was like I found the drawer where all the school thoughts were stored. Once found, I was able to air them out and see what needed mending. It also helps me feel complete that I’ve done so many house tasks that have been waiting. I finally took a saw to the dead tree in my front yard. It has been rendered into a log, a stump, and a pile of branches. I’ve been staring at that ugly, dying tree for years and now I don’t have to anymore. Granted, I still have to clean up the tree shrapnel, but the major work is complete. The same with the summer conventions. In the next couple of weeks I’ll finish off these odds and ends of summer and we will fully transition into a different rhythm of life.

I am done with summer. I am ready for school. But there is a large part of me that wishes for a pause. A space in which I could spend two weeks to unfurl all those summer possibilities which we were too busy to contemplate this year. A space with the difficult pieces of summer complete, but the difficult parts of school put off for a bit. I would dearly like a pause. Perhaps I’ll find some of that in the writer’s retreat at the end of September.