Sunday, June 6, 2010

Chompin' at the Bit

School gets out on Friday and I've been getting ready for the past few weeks or so.  In the course of a typical school year it's not a matter of a certain day arriving at which point all activity ceases and the end hits abruptly.  There's a gradual slowing, not of actual work, but in mindset.  Final grades need to be crunched.  Books need to be collected.  Lockers have to be cleaned out.  Doing it all so that the students are still meaningfully occupied while  the end of the year things that need to be done get accomplished takes a bit of orchestrating, but when it's all said and done properly and that final bell rings there's a fulfilling sense of successful accomplishment that is its own reward as the academic year gives its tail one last shake and wriggles down into its little hole for a well deserved rest.

I'm too often asked, "What do you do for the summer?" as if it's just expected that a teacher shuts down a classroom and automatically takes up a summer job when the term ends.  My usual answer is, "As little as I can get away with."  I relish the down time and the easing of the daily responsibilities.  I like to putz in the garden on my own terms, but I won't worry about weeds that don't get pulled or tomatoes that fall over if I'm not in the mood to toy with them.  I enjoy the extra time I get at the computer exploring the world through the virtual eyes of the 'net.  Of course I love to ride the BV on the days when the weather cooperates and when it doesn't I'm often trying to rig something up to carry more fun stuff on it.  I usually toss a nice hunk of meat on the grill for supper most days.  I read.  I nap.  I savor every day whether it's exciting or boring.

I ride to the same summer places most days.  I might tend to e-mails or write something for here on the laptop.  I watch people and am as fascinated with their stupidity as with their brilliance.  I don't hurry.  Summer minutes are for moving slowly.

I spend a lot of time remembering all the time I spent at my grandma's house, only a few doors down from my own house.  I think back to all the rides I took on her back porch swing, and how that green swing on its sturdy chain could be a rocket ship one day, a school bus the next, and a trawler the day after that.  I nibble a piece of fruit and remember Grandma slicing a peach for her and me to share as she did so often on a summer afternoon.  There are smells and sounds that take me back so quickly, and sometimes the memories, though they last only a few good seconds, are realistic enough to touch my heart as deeply as the events once did themselves.

What will I do for the summer?  I will live!  I will live life richly and fully and deeply.  I will love life with a hallowed adoration and praise the Maker of us all for having made me and given me this life I treasure.  And I will get ready to take another bunch of kids through a year in which I will be delighted to be their teacher.  You will find me here in mid August lamenting my return to the classroom, but don't be fooled by my complaining.  I won't think of retiring until colleagues stop telling me that I'm too happy on a typical school morning - probably as happy as I am on any given summer day, but a different kind of happy.


Lance said...

Enjoy the downtime - it's a well-deserved time for you!

bobskoot said...


I wished I had your job. It would be great to have a summer off, just riding around "the Valley" or to do nothing . . .

Wet Coast Scootin

Doug said...

Pictures from the new camera, Joe?