Noel returned from Toronto last night and we enjoyed a typical evening of television and trivia. But the next day I was the one saying "so long," as I packed my bags for a weekend with our incoming Honors class, assorted upperclassmen in leadership positions, faculty, and a bunch of glutton-for-punishment alumni who gleefully pay good money to relive their undergraduate experience every fall.
Although we're going to catch some of Ike's wrath late tomorrow and Sunday, today was an unseasonably warm day that grew breezier up on the mountaintop. We come to the Winthrop Rockefeller conference center each September, and every year the place grows more luxurious and the staff more attentive. It's more like being pampered at some kind of Arkansas version of a resort hotel and spa than anything: copious delicious food (tonight's dessert table featured a smooth-as-silk chocolate cake with cream cheese icing decorated with "Welcome UCA!"), beautiful hotel and apartment-style lodging with wireless internet throughout, technologically-advanced meeting rooms, and 180 acres of recreation space including a fully-equipped fitness center, indoor tennis, volleyball, paddleboats, and easy access to hiking trails at the adjacent state park.
I've been looking forward to this weekend because it affords so much time for reading, knitting, socializing, and relaxing. We do some work, too -- a writing workshop tomorrow morning, a guest speaker tomorrow night. But there's something so freeing about not being in charge, being able to simply enjoy this pleasant place and these unscheduled hours. After a week of staying on point with the kids and at work, I'm ready to breathe deeply and enjoy simply ... being.