Tuesday, September 04, 2018

first day of school

Since starting school in Warsaw, Poland in 1959, until I retired from teaching in 2014, there has always been for me a memorable first day of school. But the players have shifted! It used to be all about my school, my university days, my school supplies and class assignments. That changed when the kids were born and, too when I joined a university faculty. And when the grandkids were born -- it brought me around to childhood school days once again.

I love the mark of importance given to this day. Maybe we lost faith in institutions, but many of us still see hope in education and our enthusiastic focus on the beginning of a new school year reaffirms and recommits us to the schooling of our kids and grandkids.

For once, the weather cooperates. I step out to a lovely early morning.

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It'll be a tad warm, but first days of school often are a tad warm.

(The fading yet still glorious Big Bed)

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As before, I am invited to join on the ritual of ushering a young one off to school. I meet Snowdrop and her mom outside and we take our turn (because so many families are doing exactly the same thing!) at taking a photo of this excited and happy little girl.

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And only then do I return to the farmhouse and prepare breakfast for Ed and myself.

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In September, I no longer am duty bound to work in the garden. I think about its appearance a little, but it's not like I run a Giverny here: I do not need to please an audience of onlookers until November 1st. And so I dare to think about other things. Like asking a friend out to lunch. Today I had a leisurely midday meal with a former colleague. It was wonderful. The garden shrugged with indifference. Like the adolescent child who tells you -- go on and have fun, I don't need you right now.

In the afternoon, I pick up Snowdrop. I think her day was a good one. Her teacher said as much. But her focus was on the now and she was in no mood to review the past.

Her "now" does include (by her request) new books and I have the total joy of reading one that was a favorite of mine when my daughters were growing up. It's called Miss Rumphius and it is the story of a little girl who traces the life of her adventurous great aunt who sets out to do three things: explore the world, live by the sea, and do something beautiful for the world. I loved the book every time I read it thirty years back and I loved it today. And Snowdrop was spellbound.

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It didn't take long for her to launch her own story...

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Ed is roped into it, of course ...

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She has a knack for roping us all in -- and we're all the better for it.

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Sure, there will be first dayers out there who will be disappointed. To them I say -- each day is a first day! If it's a tough beginning, you can really come back flying tomorrow. That's the thing about first days: you can always say that today was just a trial run.