I spent Sunday evening, my last one before the fall semester, at Rowan’s.
She has a big privet plant in her front yard that is so tall that it makes a sort of a privet “tree” a good 20 feet high. It was shaggy and not very pretty. So we whacked it with a hand saw, a step-up and a pair of loppers. Taking down nearly ten foot of tree is not for wimps, and by the time you are done you will have soaked your shirt with sweat and have sawdust in your hair and eyes as well as down your bra, if you are wearing one.
Tiana the little neighbor girl helped, dragging branches to the side of the road for pickup after Rowan chopped them down to a manageable size with the loppers. I usually do yardwork by myself; I’ve never worked in the yard with another person, much less another person and a child. It was incredibly fun! It really made me think how much fun having a family could be. I mean, I think about how much more fun leisure time would be with others, but I had never thought about how much more fun everyday activities like yardwork might be, with other people to talk to, laugh with and help.
Yardwork was completely different when your friend could hand you things and get you a Pepsi when you were thirsty, when you could chase a laughing little girl around the yard telling her you are going to prune her, and she giggles and later puts a branch on her head like a crown.
It was a very fine way to spend my last evening of before-school summertime.
I came home, watched a David Attenborough video, rinsed off the evening’s dirt and sawdust and went to bed.
And Monday morning arrived…
Up at 6:22 without the alarm. I lie in bed watching the world grow lighter and listening to the hummingbirds peep as they drink from the feeder by my front door.
8AM morning light and shadow on the kitchen floor:
Misty golden morning; the view from my office window:
Two eggs, scrambled with cheese. Spinach-feta chicken sausage. Fried red tomatoes from a friend’s garden. Whole-wheat toast. (Not pictured: coffee and a cup of cold water.)
I don’t usually eat this much for breakfast but it is a special day, and because of school I know I won’t be able to eat lunch until around 1:45.
Amazingly, I get a decent parking spot on my first sweep of the commuter lot.
My classmates for French 120:
Unlike nearly every other class I’ve taken as a nontraditional student, this class is composed completely of under-25s save me. I am four years older than the instructor, who is only 34.
Dr. Cathy Pons was listed as the instructor for this class. The word from our new instructor is that Dr. Pons is “sick” and will not be teaching this semester. I met Cathy Pons once and remember her as a white-haired woman who was humble, helpful and very kind. Florin, the new guy, was hired only last week, so something drastic must have happened, and suddenly.
Dr. Pons, I truly hope you will be well and back at work soon.
After my two classes, Humanities and French, I cross the grassy quad
to the cafeteria.
Rush Sigma Nu.
It’s nearly 2PM and there’s hardly anyone else eating. Most of the tables are empty. Sometimes I try to corral Rosie and/or Heather to have lunch with me, but mostly I eat by myself.
I don’t mind a quiet lunch alone — it’s always a nice break.
Sometimes I overhear the kids talking and they make me laugh. I remember one plump and pretty young woman telling her friend that she lived her whole life on the edge, baby, and that she was going to move to New York City after graduation to become a sex therapist, and then have a baby by artificial insemination. Another young woman confessed to me, in August, that she had gotten drunk every night since New Year’s Eve.
I have the cashew chicken stir-fry over rice, with some acorn squash.
The caf food is really pretty good; outstanding even, if you consider that it’s an all-you-can eat buffet of reasonably healthy food for only six bucks, and you never need to leave a tip. Coffee, tea and dessert included.
Salad bar, too.
I didn’t get any pizza today.
I also avoided this temptation, which I find goes great with a cup of coffee.
Here is the actual view from the cafeteria balcony, a little outdoor dining area.
Yes, those are mountains in the background — the Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the Appalachians, a range of the Eastern U.S.
The first week of school is always a pain in the ass. As well as finding all your new classes, getting your books and syllabi and all the obvious things, you also have to do stuff like pick up your refund check and get new parking tags. The first day is always a long day, and the first week can really almost be worse than finals sometimes, if you have trouble with financial aid or getting into the classes you need.
On the way to the bookstore to get a French dictionary, I see that someone is selling posters in the breezeway that leads to the Highsmith Building.
John Belushi assumes the position.
I go to the computer lab to figure out what to do about a French workbook that I am afraid may not be compatible with my college’s online bulletin board service, but…
So I take the elevator up three floors to the good old math lab, which also has computers and internet. I am a little sad to see this wonderful place, for I know I do not belong here anymore.
I was happy when I belonged here, even though I was always lost.
I realize that I need to go back to the bookstore and see if it has a different book I might need. As I leave, I see this and stop dead in my tracks. It’s a sign in the hallway, advertising some alumni group.
U.S. WHAT Academy? I am appalled. I ask around for a post-it note.
I go on to the library to pick up two books I want to look over.
It’s 4PM. I head home, passing the gazebo. I have fantasies of sitting here and knitting something. The new building behind it kind of ruins its appeal, but in spring it is surrounded by hot pink rhododenrons, and is lovely.
This is the horizon view as you walk past Carmichael Hall
to the commuter parking lot.
Then I am off to the grocery store and the bank, and then home.
To start my day at work.