I learned its sweetness right

I had a daily bliss
I half indifferent viewed,
Till sudden I perceived it stir,—
It grew as I pursued,

Till when, around a crag,
It wasted from my sight,
Enlarged beyond my utmost scope,
I learned its sweetness right.

~Emily Dickinson

Yesterday evening, we took a walk around the field and through the woods. The stifling August heat of the past weeks had dissipated suddenly, and though it was still deep summer, the cool tinge in the air foreshadowed autumn. These are precious days, these days of aging summer. The garden pours forth a bounty, the bees cluster in the hive entrances, fanning away the day’s heat, and the leaves have not yet begun to turn, but there is a feeling of waiting that hangs in the air.

Yesterday, for the first time, it felt as if autumn was possible. Suddenly it felt right to be back in school. The year circles back around.

This is the first year in twelve years that I’ve gone back to school full-time. When Thing 1 was born, I finished out the few remaining months of the school year and then quit my full time teaching job to stay home with him. Then Thing 2 came along. I continued tutoring and teaching part time, in addition to stints at other work, but I haven’t gone back to full-time teaching until now.

It’s a mixed bag, for me. I love the students. I love the small school where I teach. My colleagues are wonderful. The energy of school is exciting, stimulating, fun. But I’ve given up my old every-other-day schedule, where I alternated full days of teaching with full days at home to write.

It’s a difficult transition. Full days around lots of people are completely exhausting. Writing time has shrunk from 7:30-4:30 every other day to an hour in the evening. I knew this would be hard. I’m feeling now just how challenging it is. And I’m looking back at those long writing days, those vast swaths of free time–to write, but also to ramble the woods and fields when the ideas wouldn’t come, to indulge in the soul-filling work of daydreaming, to have another cup of tea.

I think part of what’s so rich about autumn, what makes it the season of magic, is its complexity. It’s a season of harvest but also of loss, of richness and of letting go, of bounty and the certainty of future privation. This seems like a fitting poem for a late summer day as I look forward into a new season, a new normal, and allow myself a little grace to mourn what’s left behind.

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