Sunday, September 6, 2009

Labor Day

My family and I try to live with an awareness of the cycles of the year, which isn't difficult to do in our cozy corner of the Pacific Northwest. We're grateful for those touchpoints throughout the year that help us to remember where we are and what the earth is doing. In the winter we celebrate Advent, in the spring Easter, and though those festivals are fun and meaningful for our family, I'm beginning to notice that it is sometimes easier to observe the earth's transitions in the smaller moments.

For our family Labor Day weekend has always been one of those transition times that brings heightened awareness -- and I've never noticed it quite as much as this year. It's been a blustery weekend here. There are maple leaves on the ground, dried pine needles cover the driveway, and the earth is cold and moist. Summer is definitely a memory. I can sense the transition just looking through my living room window, but it's just not good enough. I must get outside.

When I look back on my memories of meaningful experiences with the natural world, I am struck by how many of them happened during one of those transition times. One November we took a hike that started with a light mist and ended with snow flurries. I always remember the first sunny day in the Spring. Those moments of transition really stick with me.

Every year for the past four years I have spent Labor Day, appropriately enough, working. School has always started the Wednesday after Labor Day so that weekend before I have always put the finishing touches on the classroom, made copies for the first day, and prepared my lessons. This weekend I am truly feeling the impact of my decision to not teach full-time this year. I'm focusing on getting my children ready -- doing laundry, grocery shopping, tidying the house. I feel suddenly able to give attention where it is needed.

I am preparing a lesson, though. Wednesday is the first day of school for my daughter who will be homeschooling with me. I can't wait to explore subjects with her in a way that inspires her imagination and ignites her interest. I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to do this with her and to exercise my desire to explore how children learn by working with my own daughter.

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