Monday, March 2, 2020

Final Trimester

“March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb (or vice-versa)” was the proverb of my New Jersey childhood, a saying that really meant something in a place where seasons had more of a bite to them than the simply 10 degrees warmer of my San Francisco adulthood. Yesterday as we turned into March, the day began at 50 degrees and ended around 64. The rains will subside and the winds pick up, but the plums and magnolias and daffodils have already bloomed in February, so not the big contrast of snow turning to flowers. 

The idea of life lived in three-month units began for me with the seasons and continued into my college years, where I studied on campus at Antioch for three-month blocks, then went off to work somewhere for three months and then returned and repeated this cycle for the whole four years there. Each trimester was like a miniature lifetime. 

As an adult teaching school, the 9-month block followed by the almost 3-month summer vacation had some of the same quality. But it was in 2000 when I began job-sharing with my two-colleagues that I was back in the college rhythm, each of us getting three months off during the year (plus summer) to travel and teach, to write, to study. Some years I would teach in the Fall, take the Winter trimester off, return to teach in the Spring, then off again in Summer. This continued for 12 years until we began the Intern Program and all three of us were there together in the Fall and then each had around 6 weeks off in the months to come. But the general feeling of the 3-month rhythm remained.

And now we turn to March. Three months from now, I will arrive at the last week of my 45 years teaching at the school. This feels like a milestone marker and as I return to school tomorrow after my recent 6 weeks off, I’m thinking that today I will go deep into my closet and take out my planning books from all these years and see if there are any interesting classes set down there that I had forgotten about and that I might dust off and give them one last hurrah before walking off into the sunset. That might be interesting.

And speaking of seasonality, my wife’s recent 70thbirthday—and my own coming up in a year and a half— feels like another marker that places us in the late Fall of our life’s Seasons. Spring was childhood, all flowers and future and new beginnings. A long Summer of adulthood, actively doing, doing, doing, with a bit of beach-time and strolling aimlessly with an ice-cream cone. Fall the hairs on the head turned like Autumn leaves (though the opposite direction, from color to grey), friends began to fall by the wayside, there was a chill in the air, less growing and more gathering the harvest. But now late Fall points to the Winter of our years, sitting quietly by the fireside (after the 50 miles we biked in the last two days!), the nights long, the days cold, but still some beauty amidst the bare-branched starkness. 

But for now, still classes to plan and three-year olds to sit on the floor with and though I won’t jump up as spryly as they do, I can still skip around the room with them like a frisky lamb and roar with them like a fierce lion. 

Welcome March and my final school trimester!

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