Our weather has finally turned from cold and rainy to hot and sunny, and this weekend I have a three-day break from school. Memorial Day weekend is my traditional and favorite gardening time. Here in New Hampshire, it’s only now that we plant, confident that there will be no more nighttime frost. My rhododendrons have just formed noticeable buds, and my prized yellow azalea is starting to flower. (I was fortunate in April to have a preview of spring when I traveled to Virginia. Now I’m lucky again, and have a second springtime display!) This weekend, I’ll plant a few more perennials – we add some every year, and now that we’ve lived here for several years, the gardens are maturing, filling out and looking good. Mulching the daylilies will be a big job this weekend, too, but then the yard should be in good shape as summer arrives. I generally have lots of energy for yard work and gardening until about the middle or end of July, and then I’m worn out and done, and more willing to let nature do its thing. Maybe that has been because August brings thoughts of back to school, and maybe once that is off my plate, I’ll be able to budget my energy better. Time will tell how that will play out.
When I’m not in school, I like the heat (as long as the humidity is reasonable), but my classroom can be unbearable. It’s not that bad yet, but I know it’s coming, and it has motivated me to sort and pack faster – to pick up my pace and get ‘er done. Now that I’m pretty much finished moving books, I’ve turned my eyes to the art supplies. On Thursday I managed to nearly fill the back of our truck, and on Friday I packed several more boxes. It’s amazing to see how much stuff I have accumulated in nineteen years, although my family probably wouldn’t be surprised.
I thought it was miraculous that all the books I brought home actually fit on proper shelves; I’m not so sure about the art materials, now that I have a little more perspective on how much there is. Block printing, watercolor, collage, scrapbooking, and most recently, oils – so many forms of art media have seized my interest over the years with creative possibilities! There’s lots of storage space in my classroom, so it was an easy solution to stash things at school since we live in a very tiny home.
On Tuesday I’ll be back at school, for the last stretch before the year is done. I think I’m ready. I find it quite fascinating how the process of savoring time and putting closure on my career during this school year has played itself out. I was truly worried in the fall that in June I would not be ready to leave behind what I have loved for so long.
Declaring something – naming it “out loud” – has so much power to transform and move forward an idea being considered. Writing about it – declaring it out loud — even the writing of things not directly associated with retirement – has made the difference. I have learned much, and I am now looking forward to the freedom to do things that I have longed to do and to allow my thoughts to wander.
I have a mental list of things I’m looking forward to, and mostly it’s all about having more time. I’ve threatened to make a list of things I won’t miss – but I don’t really want to do that; I don’t need to complain because when it comes right down to it, it doesn’t matter. There are lots of things that I will miss: energizing conversations with adults and kids, for one. I love those conversations that include discovery and possibilities, and of course laughing. I think one of the hardest things about being retired will be not being with lots of people on a regular basis. I am still an introvert, there’s definitely no denying that, and that’s why I love gardening. In the garden I’m alone with my own thoughts while I play in the dirt and encourage beautiful flowers to bloom. But there’s always been a good balance in my life; being with people all day, and coming home, where it’s quiet, has always been a good thing. I’ll miss the other end of that teeter-totter.
I also know I’ll figure out how to feed that need, and I don’t have to know yet what that will be. Life is good.