Tuesday, August 31, 2010

School Schedule

Summer is officially over in Birdland, and I’m back at school. I have to confess that as much as I love the long days of summer, and the flexibility of my summer job, by the end of August I almost feel a relief to get back to a schedule. By the beginning of August I began to suspect that my bold plan to get organized this summer was, although earnestly composed, maybe just a bit optimistic. Let’s not talk about how much I actually accomplished. Instead, let’s focus on the new routine for the semester.

Waking earlier, I get to see the ruby light of early morning peek over the woods almost horizontally to hit the corn drying to gold in the fields. I walk down my little path to the barn to get a better view. Never mind that my path is a bit overgrown now; the Sedum I planted early this spring is about to burst into bloom. The tiny asters have already gone to seed reminding me that Fall is coming. The early morning coolness is another reminder, and I make a note to grab a light sweater for the walk to my office, but know that by ten o’clock I’ll have to take it off and try not to forget to bring it home. I wander over to check the quince tree—the fuzzy green globes are still small. It will be a few weeks before they ripen, swell and turn yellow and aromatic, perfect for a slow baking in a shallow dish. They turn rosy and transparent in the oven, releasing even more of their flowery aroma.

Ursula bounds toward me with a Frisbee in her mouth, ready to play. She is wearing the red bandanna I put on her so she won’t be invisible in the dark. Actually, it’s not a real Frisbee. My puppy wears them out so fast that I stopped buying them, unless I can find one at a yard sale for a quarter, like I did last week. Instead I prowl the thrift stores for picnic sets and buy the plates. They each last a few weeks before she destroys them. I tried using those wicker paper plate holders, thinking that they were biodegradable, but the first one lasted for two throws. Now I compromise with plastic, recycling the shards once she has chewed them beyond throwing. I get caught up in throwing her current Frisbee, which is more like a boomerang now than a circle, but then remember that it’s a work day, and go back inside after one last throw.

Inside, Ellis is having breakfast, almost ready for school. On the days I don’t have to leave extra early with my rideshare partner, I pack us each a lunch. My sandwich goes in the lovely cloth envelope my friend, Susan, made from a green and white dishtowel. One day I’ll have time to make a similar lunch kit for Ellis. I’ll put that on my list. Maybe I can talk Susan into making them to sell at the Market. We each grab our things and go.

In town I park off campus to give my day a buffer of a brisk walk in the morning and the evening. In different seasons I take different routes. In the spring I cross the park and then make sure I pass a house with three kinds of Magnolia trees, blooming successively. I take that walk until the petals of the last tree fall and get softly ground into the sidewalk. In all seasons I walk down the alleyway—a nicely meandering sidewalk cushioned between two busy streets. I think it follows the Boneyard, which dips underground at Scott Park. It keeps me away from the street noise, and I get to enjoy the flowering trees and nicely landscaped planters. At one end the sidewalk is bordered with Crabapples. I think about the Crabapple Jelly my grandmother used to make from her neighbor’s tree, pink, glowing jars with paraffin lids. These crabapples are smaller than the ones we used to pick, all except for one tree. One tree has gone rogue. Half of the tree has proper crabapples, like orangey-pink marbles, but the other half? The other half has let its imagination go, and doesn’t remember what the tree catalog said. It offers the sweetest apples the size of pink ping-pong balls. I pick a handful for my lunch when I pass and think about imagined limitations and the delicious taste of ripe fruit.

Grow in Beauty; Imagine Peace; Blessed Be.

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. She is interested in cycles and the fruit growing around town and in her own back yard.

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