Behold the melancholy of this, the last day of summer.
Okay, so maybe the kids are not sharing my melancholy.
But the happy beach scene occurred early this weekend. Today the house resonates with piano practice, the packing of school lunches, and an on-going runway of potential first-day outfits.
Here in Northern(ish) Minnesota, the air is crisp and cool. The birch leaves have begun their golden, rustling dance. The heat of the past week has broken, letting us know, in no uncertain terms, that summer has reached its end.
The entire universe seems to assume I’m ready to throw a celebratory party as I drop my brood off at our community school, where the experts can guide their young minds through the uncertain terrain of common core and golden rule.
The truth is, I am significantly less excited about the start of school than my kids.
The structure and schedule of the first week may be exciting. It may improve our family dinner habits and restore our circadian rhythms. But with it comes the death of spontaneity. The unexpected hike in a nearby park, the impromptu ice cream run… the demotion of bed time in favor of an extra hour on the tire swing. All gone.
The worst part about the schedule: it drags us along, a rapid current devoid of compassion for a person’s yearning for solitude or stillness. It drives us all too quickly to the beginning of June. I know, sometime early next week, I’ll experience a moment of panic and paddle furiously up stream in a fit of protest. I know by April I’ll need a life vest (good thing we have travel plans round about then).
And I know the gentle pace of summer – even with full days and short nights – is a gift, a reprieve from the rigid requirements of the rest of the year.
I just want to raise my hand for a moment and say that I – and surely I’m not alone – am not gleefully ready to dump the little monsters on the school’s doorstep and get on with the business of life. My list of science projects, messy experiments, long hikes, small adventures, and be-lazy-in-the-hammock books is long enough to fill a year’s worth of summers.
It is this time of year (and in April) when that funny little word gets bandied about: homeschool.
Lighter now, complaints aired and educational threats made, I’m ready to shove off into the current of the new school year. Once again, we’ll embrace the challenge together. We’ll set far off goals and race down stream to reach them sometime next spring.
And we’ll keep our minds eye on the stillness and unscheduled joy of next summer on the far shore of June.