Thursday, June 3, 2010


There are exactly 3 days left of the school year--2 of which are filled with activities and yearbook signing. I love this time of year--the anticipation of a summer so close, the swimming pools opening their vibrant blue eyes, the book pile stacked beside my bed just waiting for me to dive in, emerging only for food and air. The instant knowledge that enters my mind as the alarm goes off: I only have X more times to consciously do this hour for a long while.

I also hate this time of year. It is all the bidding farewell business I loathe, the end of things. It is reading Oh, the Places You'll Go! with each class--telling them what a great year we've had together--even the nuisance-y kids will be missed. A little.

Even the books we finish in the final week feel Young Elie Wiesel losing his father in the last section of Night with my 10th graders. Finishing Cold Mountain, again. I "read" it each year with my AP students after their big exam. This year I read it again thoroughly. I've always felt slightly saddened after it is over. But long after I read the last chapters last night, it kept me awake, haunted me. I simply couldn't sleep. I don't know if it is Frazier's exquisite prose. That final scene (prior to the epilogue):

He drifted in and out and dreamed a bright dream of a home. It had a coldwater spring rising out of rock, black dirt fields, old trees. In his dream the year seemed to be happening all at one time, all the seasons blending together. Apple trees hanging heavy with fruit but yet unaccountably blossoming, ice rimming the spring, okra plants blooming yellow and maroon, maple leaves red as october, corn tops tasseling, a stuffed chair pulled up to the glowing parlor hearth, pumpkins shining in the fields, laurels blooming on the hillsides, ditch banks full of orange jewelweed, white blossoms on dogwood, purple on redbud. Everything coming around at once. And there were white oaks, and a great number of crows, or at least the spirits of crows, dancing and singing in the upper limbs. There was something he wanted to say.

An observer situated up on the brow of the ridge would have looked down on a still, distant tableau in the winter woods. A creek, remnant of snow. A wooded glade, secluded from the generality of mankind. A pair of lovers. The man reclined with his head in the woman's lap. She, looking down into his eyes, smoothing back the hair from his brow. He, reaching an arm awkwardly around to hold her at the soft part of her hip. Both touching each other with great intimacy. A scene of such quiet and peace that the observer on the ridge could avouch to it later in such a way as might lead those of glad temperaments to imagine some conceivable history where long decades of happy union stretched before the two on the ground.

It is perfect and amazing, isn't it?

But something about the end of the year gives me mixed feelings. Joy, celebration, and a slight bit of melancholia. Maybe it is the one time of year where I completely acknowledge to myself that yes, I do in fact like these kids, my job more than what I sometimes fear in the middle of the year.


Jen said...

Very nice post. Good luck in the next few days.

Lildonbro said...

Ah the end of the school year, I miss having those.

Very good post, I enjoyed it...and now I want to read Cold Mountain.

silvernic said...

I suck as a person and a teacher. I'm just excited to see them leave and am too busy counting days to worry about reading.

Rie Pie said...

I must read this!!!