Who can walk today
when leaves leapfrog across the boulevard
and swirl recklessly round each ... [+]
Not for me, that pallid substitute in January with its noisemakers and forgotten resolutions. My calendar resets annually with the opening of classroom doors, no matter that decades have passed since I last slammed shut a locker or handed in a textbook.
My pulse quickens at the sight of highlighters and lined paper newly piled on store shelves. Long before the first leaf falls, mannequins are draped in earth tones that conjure forest floors and lichen and wood smoke. Despite heat that melts my synapses, a voice within me exults: It begins.
For years, no matter how wrung dry I felt by June, come September I was ready for anything—my younger self renewed by meandering days and warm nights, burnished by the summer sun.
Each new school year shimmered with potential. Nothing was impossible. Classes would be different. I would be different. Tabula rasa, a clean slate upon which life could write anything, stretched ahead.
From age five until I graduated from college, the ebb and flow of the academic calendar patterned my life. Years later, a mantra still whispers in my ear when fall nears: It begins.
At some elemental level I am as imprinted to heed the call of school seasons as geese are to fly south through darkening skies. Fall presses my reset button and bids me to turn the page.
Time, of course, has altered me as it alters all. Now, summers are endured rather than welcomed. The sun of my childhood, which once fell so lightly, has turned fierce. But the Autumn Equinox still marks a new beginning. July has slid into August, and August has melted into September. A cessation of heat once again seems possible when school buses trundle past, painted the golden yellow of construction paper leaves or the yellow gold of No. 2 pencils. Holidays of light and magic glimmer on the horizon, their warm promise framed by cooler days and longer nights. Temperatures fall, and my spirit rises.
Happy New Year!