We are in road-trip mode.
Summer, at least for the last few years, seems to have a rhythm to it. At the beginning of the summer, I am exhausted from whatever things it is that I do throughout the September-to-June “school” year. Deadlines seem to march like large, intimidating tin soldiers toward me as I stand stunned in the middle of the road. The tanks are rolling forward. I sense a break and a green, untended field in the distance and I sprint…
Okay, it’s not that bad. No one is trying to mow me down. But sometimes it is difficult to step back and regard deadlines and piles as anything but a personal attack, even when they are brought on by promises that I myself have made. In any case, usually I have The Summer to look forward to. The Summer, time of no deadlines. The Summer, time of no preconceived ideas of what we should be doing. The Summer, time of breaks-from-classes. The Summer, emotionally equivalent to that luscious field of green dotted with meadow flowers.
Except that it never happens that way. We fill it up so very fast. Wonderful opportunities bang on the door. Short trips and longer ones can be planned and enjoyed. There is nothing not-good about any of what we plan, except perhaps that there isn’t enough time to enjoy everything without the feeling that I wish we could enjoy it longer and feel like we’re sleeping enough.
Oh, and I dislike hot weather.
So fall is coming and I am glad, because it is a much desired time of mellow reflection. The Fall, time of cooler weather and fewer activities, The Fall, time of resuming dance class and recorder and wondering if we’re doing all that we want to do. Er. Not so relaxing. But that’s okay. I’m laughing as I write this. My editorializing about how-it-will-be-different has never changed anything about our days. The Boy tends to learn what he needs to learn, and I tend to get to tell as many stories as my little old storytelling heart desires. Maybe I don’t do as much planning as I’d like to have done; and I think at least one of those deadlines won’t get met. Look at me, being human. I feel all humble and such.
Learning and stories: for me, that’s why we homeschool.
And in the summer, homeschooling means we get to take road-trips to see wonderful friends in interesting places, who let us crash in their guest rooms. We get to be inspired by an existence so different from our everyday, one of being awakened by chickens, and watching cartoons, and taking walks in late morning to surreptitiously pick wild plums that hang enticingly over the road and we aren’t sure if they belong to anyone but they hang, and shine, and glow at us so that I can’t help picking just one or two… every block or so… and tuck them, little globes of soft brightness, into the Boy’s sweatshirt pocket where he exclaims of their warmth. He eats a grape from a climbing vine in a lane we wander and it turns into a story about a grapeseed that sprouts into a vine, up, up the little boy’s throat and then one day, he opens his mouth and a caressing tendril uncurls, springs out of his mouth, and seeks upward, finally winding around his glasses. Grapes sprout from the boy’s ear. “Grapes covered in ear wax? Ewww!”
We’ve picked blackberries in a vineyard empty but for the bright green heart-shaped leaves and their waiting, waiting fruit. We’ve wandered other vineyards and watched a turkey vulture snacking on an illicit bovine forelimb. We’ve eaten at a French bistro, where the boy and his kindred spirit scuffle over tomato bisque and baguette slathered in butter. He’s thrown hay to sheep and gathered eggs and helped to plant a fall garden.
It feels like the deep breath, before diving into the water. It feels like watching the tin soldiers shrink, and clatter, and become dust in the road, the tanks shrivel to tumbleweeds and roll away, and all I see is the dusty lane before us, lined on either side with green grass and tiny meadow blossoms, and the occasional wild plum tree, hanging fruit over our path and tempting us on.
I want to fill his pockets. We’ll need provisions for Fall.