Monday, May 27, 2013

Endings and Beginnings

This weekend marks the seventh anniversary of "The Porch Swing Chronicles,"  so today, I'm reposting my very first blog post. While the details have changed (this year's picnic was pre-empted by a basketball game), the balancing act remains the same, despite the fact that I'm looking at summer vacation through a very different lens this year.

However you celebrate your Memorial Day, I hope you find happy memories and make new ones that will form the fabric of the stories told in years to come.  

The end of the school year is a beautiful thing. But for educators, it's a mixed blessing. For the past two weeks, I've been counting the days with a mixture of pleasure and panic. Summer vacation stretches out before me  like a lush, green carpet, full of promise and endless possibility. Unfortunately, that carpet is currently buried beneath end-of-year tasks: to-do lists, meeting reminders, papers to file, organize and otherwise relocate.

Memorial Day weekend landed smack in the middle of all of this craziness, and, of course, there was a picnic to attend. My to-do list scrolled endlessly through my mind as I tried to convince myself that taking a huge chunk out of a Sunday was a good idea. Everything in me screamed, "Run! Claim this time! Stay home and check things off your list!" Oddly enough, it was the first clear voice I'd heard in the mental chaos of the past several weeks.

I silenced it, however, and went to the picnic. While there, I wandered onto my sister-in-law's front porch and sat in the porch swing, easing myself back and forth, taking in the rural front yard so different from my own suburban lawn, looking over the railing at the creek where my brother-in-law had discovered three snakes that day. Slowly, amazingly, peace came. For the first time in a long time, I simply sat, enjoying the quiet - a talent I've never been able to fully cultivate.

Then the words came. Words about summer vacation and kids, long days and (we hope) cool evenings that wrap around a season unlike any other. A season of sunscreen and porch swings, beaches and picnics on the grass. A chance to explore, express, experience, experiment and toss the to-do list on the picnic table. A time to play.

Before we left for home, I made sure to show my daughter the porch swing. She and I sat there alone for a few minutes, and she discovered the fish jumping out of the water, then right back into the creek. Instantly, she loved the swing as much as I did (though my husband remained puzzled by its allure). Then, my sister-in-law joined us, telling us the story of the porch swing that she'd taken from her grandfather's house when he passed away. It was certainly not the first time I'd sat on that swing, but it was the first time I'd heard its story.

In less than two weeks, summer vacation will be here, bringing its own stories. I will do my best to sit still and listen, drinking them all in, soaking in the peace that will sustain me through chaos.

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