January 3, 2005
This was by far the darkest morning of the year. A thick cloud cover made it seem like the middle of the night when I went out for the paper. It was, however, nearly 7:15. It was drizzling some and I pulled the hood of my sweatshirt up. I stooped for the paper and shook the moisture off the plastic sleeve, and when I straightened up I saw through the droplets on my glasses shrouded shapes under umbrellas moving like mushrooms along the sidewalk. It was the neighborhood kids on their way to the bus stop. School is back in session.
I have lived by the school calendar all of my life. My father was a teacher, so the influence was there even before I started my own sixteen years of education. After college I started my own career at the front of a classroom, and remained there for nearly thirty years. Lynn was finishing sixth grade when I retired, and now she’s in her first year of college. So I’m still living by the rhythms of the school year, still aware of what sport is in season and when the vacations are.
In terms of a typical school calendar, Christmas on a Wednesday or Thursday is your best deal for a winter break. Christmas on a Saturday or Sunday is your worst. If Christmas is in the middle of the week you get almost two weeks off. If Christmas falls on a weekend, school is in session all the way to Christmas Eve and you’re right back in there almost before the New Year’s Eve confetti has stopped falling. The break isn’t long enough that you’re bored silly with being at home, and there’s something about the weak light and the parched air that makes even those of us who love the minutiae of our subjects reluctant to go forth before dawn for a day of talking about Emily Dickinson.
I had a classmate through grade school and high school whose birthday is today. We were never particularly close, but I’d see her from time to time, especially during the years when she was a product demonstrator at the supermarket, and we’d always chat for a bit. For some reason a few years ago I remembered a time in fifth or sixth grade when she lamented the fact that she so often had to go back to school on her birthday. I sent her a birthday card, one of those notes that comes out of nowhere and sparks a reconnection.
I need to get back to work. I want Christmas put away and my annual letter mailed out by Epiphany and the first draft of a short story in place by next Monday, so I’m busy this week. But before I sat down with my notebook this morning, I prepared a birthday card for my old friend.
Happy Birthday, Rosemary.
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