Friday, January 23, 2015

thinking back, looking forward

When I retired a year ago from the university, I didn't quite cut off all ties to the Law School. I transitioned to an "emerita" status and the assumption is that if I want to, I can continue to contribute in some small ways to academic life.

But I was so out of breath from all the years of teaching within all those substantive areas, that once I moved my office belongings out of the Law School building (11 months ago),  I couldn't even get myself to go near the campus.

Now, I'm less reluctant to step on university soil, though I still do not look for opportunities to go there. Even as sometimes, it's unavoidable. In a couple of weeks, I have a meeting with women law students about some of the challenges they're likely to face in their careers. And today I did something a little more drab and routine -- I went over to tidy up my email account and migrate my gazillion and one emails to a new system the university now uses.

That, in itself is not interesting. But the trip to campus was a bit of a shock.

After a leisurely breakfast...

farmette life-4.jpg

... I left my "do things leisurely" hat behind and rushed to campus. To my usual parking lot, from which I almost always, in the past, ran to my office. This time, I restrained myself, but I remembered the feeling of hurry. Of arranging lecture thoughts in my head. Of wanting to do a triple check of a fact before class.. oh, do I have time? Maybe! If I run! -- I remembered all that.

At the school itself, I kept my curiosity in check and stayed away from the main offices. You can only give an answer to "how's retirement?" so many times and even in my small orbit, I ran into enough people that the word "great!" started sounding empty and a bit boastful.

After, I went out on Bascom Hill. A version of this had been my view for a number of years...

farmette life-9.jpg

Before I moved to the farmette, I watched the seasons display their extraordinary colors here. This winter, there's too little snow to make for a beautiful canvas, so I walked on toward our main lake -- just steps from my former office. It is perhaps our greatest treasure, this huge lake of ours and even on a cloudy day, it looks sublime.

farmette life-14.jpg

Too, I walked along a bit of State Street -- the eclectic street of shops and eateries, linking our campus with the Capitol...

farmette life-8.jpg

...and I thought to myself how much more walking I did when I worked in the city. And so that part of my return felt especially nice.

But after a while, I was done. I tested the waters and decided that my work at the farmette,  my love of travel and writing, and of course, my heavy preoccupation these days with little Snowdrop -- they all warrant (with very tiny exceptions) a continued break from campus life.

It felt exceptionally good not to hurry after that. I made my way home slowly, never once going over the various speed limits, not running, not counting the minutes of the day in my head.

Back at the farmhouse, I did turn on my engines a tiny bit: the house needs a solid once over in preparation for a very special visitor tonight. Little Snowdrop is spending an evening here while her parents go out.

I cannot wait!

The music boxes are wound up. Two new books await her. Burp cloths are washed and folded, the pacifier scrubbed, a new baby lotion with calendula and oatmilk stands ready at the changing table (because the air is so dry in winter!).  A froggie pajama is there, too -- in case she wets whatever she is wearing.

farmette life-21.jpg


And again I am transported in time -- a more distant time, when my youngest was a baby, in need of attention, especially at our dinner time and so I learned to cook and hold, sing, stir, anything to accomplish the dual goal of serving a fresh and honest meal and keeping a baby happy. This is when I learned the importance of mise en place: translated to mean -- get your ingredients ready when the baby is resting!

Little Snowdrop is so young that she has a good dose of sleepy in her -- at least in intervals, so you can count on her looking like this for a little while...

farmette life-5.jpg

Isie boy is not convinced of her innocence.  I encourage him to check her out and he does...

farmette life-7.jpg

...but then quickly retreats to the bedroom upstairs. At least he doesn't hide under the bed -- he reserves that for storms and dangerous looking people.

And so we ate and she slept and she woke and we played...

 farmette life-17-2.jpg

and played, and played...

farmette life-21-2.jpg

and it was a delightful evening. Utterly delightful. And because I'm just the grandma, I get to ponder life with a glass of wine now, while the young couple takes on the task of taking home a very tired little baby and putting her to sleep. Where's the fairness!