Saturday, September 15, 2007

A perfect afternoon

After this morning's writing workshop for the Core I students, the afternoon was ours to spend any way we pleased. I did exactly what I had planned to do for months -- strolled to the little boathouse by the pond, sat under an umbrella, knitted, and watched students, alumni, and assorted hangers-on take the paddleboats out for a spin. Several impromptu discussion groups formed, disintegrated and reformed again during the three hours I spent in the perfect 72-degree cloudless weather, under the perfect slate-blue sky. My feet were up, the breeze was cool, and I didn't completely lose count of my stitches.

Of course, perfection is all in the juxtaposition. Even though it would nearly always be relaxing to sit and knit on a coolish late summer day, the hectic pace of my Toronto widowhood over the last ten days made me long for such a scene more than I usually would. In fact, although I crave do-nothing vacations in the abstract -- my perfect holiday is a cruise or a beach resort -- I usually feel some compunction to get stuff accomplished, to have Experiences, when I'm traveling. It's rare that I can turn all that off and really just sink into long stretches of unscheduled time without guilt or restlessness.

Thanks to the happy accident of juxtaposition, this is one of those days.

I miss my kids, certainly, but I'm too aware of my own weariness and need for rejuvenation to feel bad about spending a day away from them. I shed a little tear reading an e-mail this morning that Noel passed along from Archer's teacher. It seems that on Friday the class was doing an experiment about electricity -- rubbing a balloon to give it a static charge, then touching it to the fluorescent bulb in the bathroom to make it light up. The kids were going into the dark bathroom in small groups and closing the door, and Archer didn't want to go in. So the teacher let him stand by the door and be the "door man." After a few groups had gone in and come out, one of the entering students asked Archer if he wanted to do it, and said that he could hold her hand. He took her hand, went inside, and participated. He changed his mind, and he trusted his friend. Making that kind of connection with a child his age is another step forward. My boy can do all kinds of things, and there are people who will help him along, and he will let them lead him somewhere new.


the secret knitter said...

Next time can we get a handkerchief warning before sweet stories like that? :)

It's wonderful to read how school is helping him grow.

Eric said...

Your description of the retreat sounds like a little slice of perfection. I wish I could be there with the other alumni. I miss the camaraderie and Petit Jean State Park. It is also heartening to hear of Archer's social progress.

fjohn said...

So it does have an RSS feed now!

How did you not get sunburned at the big pond?

Doc Thelma said...

Ah, Honors retreats, I remember them well. I haven't had the pleasure in my current institution, though.

Glad to hear Archer's expanding his horizons.